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The Help by Kathryn Stockett - review

Kathryn Stockett

❶When her best friend makes a political issue of not allowing the "help" to use the toilets in their employers' houses, she decides to write a book in which the community's maids -- their names disguised -- talk about their experiences.

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At the end of the novel, what final words does Aibileen want Mae Mobley to remember?

There is no trickier subject for a writer from the South than that o Here is an illustrative tale of what it was like to be a black maid during the civil rights movement of the s in racially conflicted Mississippi.

There is no trickier subject for a writer from the South than that of affection between a black person and a white one in the unequal world of segregation. For the dishonesty upon which a society is founded makes every emotion suspect, makes it impossible to know whether what flowed between two people was honest feeling or pity or pragmatism. An eloquent way to describe Stockett's intentions for this novel. I know most reviews will probably focus on the racial relationships in the book, but to me the most haunting statement was that when you are paying someone to care for you and their livelihood depends on making you happy, you can't expect an honest relationship.

I did not expect this book to hit so close to home. After all, I did not grow up in the South and completely missed the racial mind shift in the country.

But the book isn't just about racism and civil rights. It's about the employer relationship too. And I did grow up in South America with a maid trying to keep herself out of poverty by making our crazy family happy. As much as we loved her, I can see so many of the pitfalls from these complex relationships in my own history. I know our maid was stuck between pleasing my mother and raising us the way she believed appropriate. I know it was physically hard to work from sunup to late everyday and emotionally hard to never relax because she wasn't the decision maker of our home and at any moment she could be reprimanded for making the wrong decision.

She had absolutely no power, and yet she was all powerful to shape and mold us. I needed her, felt bad for how much I imposed upon her, but I never voiced how much I appreciated or loved her. I took her for granted. Even though she was paid to love us, I know she did.

We were her children, especially my youngest brothers. And yet when she moved back home, we lost contact. Was it out of laziness of our own narcissistic lives or was the complexity of our relationship so draining she cut the tie? It is my fear that she thinks we did not return her affection and only thought of her as the maid. I often think about her, we all reminisce about her wondering where she is, and more than anything, I just want to know that she is happy and tell her thank you.

It is so strange that someone who is such a vital part of your childhood can just vanish out of your life. You only get one in a lifetime. Believe me, I know. The story is strong and real and touched something deep inside me. I could so relate to the motherly love from Constantine to Skeeter, see that pain in the triangle between Aibileen and Mae Mobley and Elizabeth, feel the exasperation of Minny toward Celia, and understand the complexity of the good and bad, the love and hate, the fear and security.

Stockett captured all these emotions. I also loved the writing style. When style compliments plot, I get giddy. I don't always love grammatically incorrect prose or books about an author trying to be published, but here it works because it's honest. The novel is about a white woman secretly compiling true accounts of black maids--and the novel is in essence a white author trying to understand black maids.

The styles parallel each other as do the messages. The point of Skeeter's novel is to make people see that people are just people no matter the color of their skin and Stockett's novel beautifully portrays that with both good and bad on both sides. The fictional novel cover is decorated with the white dove of love and understanding. To get us there, Stockett gives us three ordinary birds, a picture of ordinary life asking to be accepted for its honest simplicity.

This book is Stockett's masterpiece, that story in her that was just itching to get out. From the first page, the voice of the characters took vivid form and became real, breathing people. I loved Aibileen, but think I loved Minny's voice more because she is such a strong character. Besides the maids, I loved Hilly as a portrayal of the white Southern belle with the ingrained belief that black people are not as good as whites, verbalized as "separate but equal" so it doesn't sound racist.

My favorite scene was when Hilly says they have to be careful of racists because they are out there. She's a bit over the top, but if you've been to the South, not that far of a stretch. I just would have liked to find some redeeming qualities in her from Skeeter's perspective. While there are some instances where I felt Stockett was squeezing historical facts into the novel, forming the plot around these events instead of letting them play backdrop, and occasionally I could read the modern woman in this tale pushing her message too hard, Stockett's sincerity to understand and appreciate shines through.

She lived this book to some extent and the story is a part of her. Because it's important to her it becomes important to me. View all 40 comments. Mar 15, Ellen rated it it was ok Shelves: The Kindle DX I ordered is galloping to the rescue today AND, for all the book purists which would include me , this is a need , rather than a want.

Post-several eye surgeries, I'm just plain sick of struggling to read the words on a page. However, despite the visual challenges, I read all pages of The Help yesterday. Clearly, the book held my interest. However, I spent last night pondering why the book wasn't as good as my nonstop reading would indicate. Most of all, I think it was the book's ambivalent tone. In brief, a white woman, Miss Skeeter Phelan--one of Jackson, Mississippi's socially elite--convinces a number of the African-American maids to tell her their story.

What goes on in the homes of the upper crust? How do these women really treat their maids? Though the book would be published anonymously and no locations would be given, the stories provide enough detail so that the premise that the book could be received as being about Anywhere, USA defies belief. Further, while having the book's source known might subject Skeeter to social ostracism, this is the s in Missa-fuckin-sippi in the middle of the very tense civil rights' battles.

For the maids, discovery would mean loss of a job with no hope of getting another position and retribution that could include being falsely accused of a crime and jailed or even being injured or killed.

Despite the underlying tension and references to violent events that do occur, the book teeters. At times, I was furious and in tears over the effing racism and the tragedies described. But Kathryn Stockett keeps pulling back. It's as though she wants it both ways.

Let's divulge the incredible cruelty and violence that black people routinely endured, but let's also show the goodness of some white people and soft-pedal the whole thing into a broader theme, i. You can't have it both ways. Though some of the women are kinder to their maids, they did not fight against the "separate but equal" indignities that included building a "nigra" toilet in their home or garage so that the maids' "nasty" germs would not infect them, the separate entrances, the substandard schools, the "justice" system that made a white accusation the same as proof, and on and on and on.

I don't want a book to make me cry and then pull back and say, "It's all right. If you're going to write a book about this horrible time in our history - and in a country where racism is still alive and well - then do it all out.

What these women endured deserves more. Don't put it out there and then pull back and use a Doris Day lens. View all 53 comments.

While it was a well-written effort, I didn't find it as breathtaking as the rest of the world. It more or less rubbed me the wrong way. It reads like the musings of a white woman attempting to have an uncomfortable conversation, without really wanting to be uncomfortable. It's incredibly hard to write with integrity about race and be completely honest and vulnerable.

And if her intent isn't anything greater, th While it was a well-written effort, I didn't find it as breathtaking as the rest of the world. And if her intent isn't anything greater, then it makes this book all the more pandering to the white imagination of what it must have been like to be "the help" during that era. It's passive self-reflection at best and utterly useless.

The national fascination with this book makes me sick. It makes me think of my grandmother who was "the help" to many white families for well over 50 years. Her stories aren't too different from those told in this book, but they are hers to tell.

If she were alive today, I don't believe she would praise Stockett's book. In fact, I think she we would be horrified at the thought that her years of hard work in some cases, for some very horrible people would be reduced to some wannabe feel good story of the past. View all 55 comments. Nov 27, Lola rated it really liked it Shelves: You gone have to ask yourself, "Am I gone believe what them fools say about me today?

B-but… The Help is different. We all want to live our lives the best way possible and be treated with respect. Miss Skeeter is also an important part of this story. She faces obstacles, so many of them, but does she ever back down? No, because when she believes in something, no one can kill her spirit. He is the most frustrating part of the story, really. We hate him, we love him, we like him and then we hate him for the rest of the book.

Never fear, the underlying themes of the story are extraordinary and that alone should make everyone want to read this book.

I would also like to take advantage of this space offered to me and recommend the movie. Apr 08, karen rated it it was amazing Shelves: View all 84 comments. Apr 02, Kai rated it it was amazing Shelves: Not that much separates us. Not nearly as much as I'd thought. This novel did so many things to me.

There was lots of crying Find more of my books on Instagram. View all 14 comments. Jan 12, Majenta rated it it was amazing. But she's struggling mightily to deal with grief over the death of her something son, and she SURE doesn't think conditions will ever improve for African-American domestic-engineering servants in earlys Jackson, Mississippi or anywhere else in the South.

Aibileen's good friend Minny has been a "I know what a froat is and how to fix it. Aibileen's good friend Minny has been a maid since she was very young, and on the first day of her first job her mother admonished her that sass-mouth, especially her degree of it, is highly dangerous--but it's not long before she's just gotta mouth off As Minny's first "episode" of the book opens, she is yet again looking for a new job, and this time an opportunity pretty much falls into her lap.

Celia Foote needs a domestic engineer, but she also needs a friend, a real ally, even a confidante. Oh, one more thing: I think this plotline was my favorite part. Celia's husband had formerly gone with even been engaged to? But, really, which is the worse attack from Minny: View all 12 comments. Jan 07, James rated it really liked it Shelves: I read this book at least 4 years ago, before I began to more consistently use Goodreads I should share my views so others can decide if it's a good book for them.

I'll have to check out some other people's reviews And I wonder how many people just watched the I read this book at least 4 years ago, before I began to more consistently use Goodreads And I wonder how many people just watched the movie I'll keep this review short and not in my usual format, as probably everyone I'm friends with on here has already read it!

The only reason I'm not giving it a 5 is because I felt like some of the stories needed a better or stronger ending. I truly think it is a fantastic book, and it makes you really think about what happened in the not-so-distant past Scary thoughts, but in the end, at least the right people got something back they deserved, even if it wasn't as much as it should have been. The characters are very clear and strong. And when there are upwards of 10 to 12 supporting or lead female characters, an author has to spend a tremendous amount of time creating distinct pictures in a readers mind.

Stockett did a great job with this task. Each and every one shows you a different personality: When a writer can shuffle this many people throughout a story, they have invested themselves into the book, the characters, the setting, the theme, the future.

I haven't read anything else by this author, but just thinking about this book, and realizing I haven't looked at her other works makes me want to run to her profile now and pick one.

Perhaps that's what I'll go do! About Me For those new to me or my reviews I read A LOT. I write A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https: Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. View all 30 comments. Dec 01, Nancy rated it it was amazing Shelves: Audio books are good for me.

I was so engrossed in the story and characters that I drove the speed limit on the highway and took the scenic route while running errands. Sometimes I went out at lunch and needlessly drove in circles, or sat in the parking lot at work, waiting for a good place to stop. It is in Jackson, Mississippi. She is still grieving for her young son, who died in a workplace accident. The story jumps back and forth between the three characters, all of them providing their version of life in the South, the dinner parties, the fund-raising events, the social and racial boundaries, family relationships, friendships, working relationships, poverty, hardship, violence, and fear.

I loved this story! The characters really came alive for me, and the author did a good job acknowledging actual historical events which lent richness and authenticity to the story. I laughed and cried, felt despair and hope. This is an important story that is a painful reminder of past cruelty and injustice.

It shows how far we have progressed and how much more we still have to accomplish. View all 54 comments. Mar 02, Jason rated it really liked it Shelves: View all 11 comments. Jul 10, Salome G rated it did not like it. This could have really used a better editor. I didn't understand why the boyfriend character was even in there--he added nothing to the story.

In addition, Skeeter keeps telling us that Hilly and Elizabeth are her friends but that's just it--she tells us. We never see why she would want to be friends with either of them, Hilly especially.

Other characters were equally unbelievable. All the maids are good people and so gracious to Miss Skeeter, save one. Reading their interactio The story itself: Reading their interactions with Skeeter, I was reminded of Chris Rock's bit about old black men: I was going to say that it borders on portraying her as a Magical Black Person because I didn't think she had magical powers, but then I remembered the part about how her fellow church members think her prayers are more powerful than others'.

Before reading, my question was, can Kathryn Stockett write this story? I read the whole book. I read the self-conscious afterword. Can Stockett write this story? Well, of course she can. I lean toward no. This is not her story to tell. I was reminded of Lo's Diary and how Pia Pera said that she thought of a part in Lolita as an invitation to a a literary tennis match and so she had to write it and no, you didn't.

And neither did Kathryn Stockett. She said that she wrote this book because it'd never occurred to her what her maid Demetrie's life was like. So she made up the story. And it was still all about the white lady. View all 46 comments. Mei You could argue that the boyfriend was there to show development in Skeeter's character. Before she began writing her book, she put up with his secret You could argue that the boyfriend was there to show development in Skeeter's character.

Before she began writing her book, she put up with his secret-keeping and general unsatisfactory treatment of her. By the end, however, she cast him aside because she realized how much better she deserved. Leslie Your review is everything I've been trying to articulate. I enjoyed parts of this story but for the most part, eh. It's like so so sex with someone. Y Your review is everything I've been trying to articulate.

Yeah it's good at times, but at the end, you wouldn't repeat it and the ending is flat. The ending really bothered me. White lady goes off and gets a great job while the black folks the story was about gets fired which was actually a blessing but a tragedy for the kids and leaves her husband to raise 6 kids alone.

Don't get me wrong. Minny needed to leave Leroy. Elizabeth is still an idiot. There was nothing redeeming in this story. Jun 18, Dana Ilie rated it it was amazing. There is a lot to like about this book. And I was impressed by the fairly even-handedness of the t There is a lot to like about this book. And I was impressed by the fairly even-handedness of the topic that Stockett managed.

There are good and bad and goodish-baddish people on every side of the issue, and each has different motivations and reasons for being where they are on that side — hate, pride, naivete, personal experiences. Three reasons why I love The Help: It is not a comedy but some lines just had me wanting to read on and on! It is easy to read.

Even though The Help talks about a very serious time in American history, the author really thought about how to write the story in a way that it just flows. I really felt a connection with each of the characters. You get to know them from their point of view. View all 18 comments. Mar 22, Tatiana rated it did not like it Shelves: I don't think this could be any more obvious, trite and cliche-ridden.

The book's only aim is to make white people feel better about themselves you know, that same old a-brave-white-lady-savior story you've read and a few dozen times before.

View all 23 comments. Jul 03, Matt rated it it was amazing Recommended to Matt by: A mix of humour and social justice, the reader is faced with a powerful piece on which to ponder while remaining highly entertained.

In Jackson, Mississippi, the years leading up to the Civil Rights Movement presented a time where colour was a strong dividing line between classes. Skeeter was unwed and with few prospects, though her time away at college left her ready to tackle the workforce until an eligible man swept her off her feet. Skeeter sought a job as a writer, prepared to begin at the bottom rung, but not giving up on sleuthing around to determine what might have been going on in Jackson.

Skeeter scored a job writing an informative column in the local newspaper, giving cleaning tips to housewives in need of a little guidance. Who better to offer these tips that the hired help of Jackson?! With secret meetings taking place after working hours and Skeeter typing away, a mental shift took place and the idea of class became taboo, at least to some. However, sometimes a book has unforeseen consequences, turning the tables on everyone and forcing tough decisions to be made.

Stockett pulls no punches in the presentation, fanning the flames of racial and class divisions, as she depicts a way of thinking that was not only accepted, but completely sanctioned.

Race relations in the United States has long been an issue written about, both in literature and pieces of non-fiction. How a country as prosperous as America could still sanction the mistreatment of a large portion of its citizens a century after fighting a war on the issue remains completely baffling. While Stockett focusses her attention on Mississippi, the conscious reader will understand that this sort of treatment was far from isolated to the state.

One might venture to say that racism continued on a worldwide scale, creating a stir, while many played the role of ostriches and denied anything was going on. The characters within the book presented a wonderful mix of society dames and household help, each with their own issues that were extremely important. The characters bring stereotypes to life in an effort to fuel a raging fire while offering dichotomous perspectives. The interactions between the various characters worked perfectly, depicting each group as isolated and yet fully integrated.

The household help bring the struggle of the double work day triple, at times while the society dames grasp to keep Mississippi from turning too quickly towards integration and equality, which they feel will be the end of all normalcy. Using various narrative perspectives, the characters become multi-dimensional.

Additionally, peppering the dialogue with colloquial phraseology pulls the story to a new level of reality, one that is lost in strict textbook presentation.

Stockett pushes the narrative into those uncomfortable places the reader hopes to keep locked in the pages of history, pushing the story to the forefront and requiring a synthesising of ideas and emotions. While racism is not as sanctioned in as many laws, it remains a strong odour and one that cannot simply be washed away by speaking a few words. This book, as entertaining as it is in sections, is far from fictional in its depiction of the world. The sooner the reader comes to see that, the faster change can occur.

All lives matter, if we put in the effort and have the presence of mind to listen rather than rule from our own ivory towers. Kudos, Madam Stockett for this wonderful piece. I am happy to have completed a buddy read on this subject and return to read what was a wonderful cinematic presentation. An ever-growing collection of others appears at: View all 33 comments.

Apr 17, Thomas rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: Originally, I thought this book should have been retitled The Hype. At least that's what I told my friend. I remember thinking something along the lines of, blah, another story about racism in the old southern days?

Must be the chick-lit version of To Kill a Mockingbird. I was so wrong. There is Skeeter, a twenty-two-year-old aspiring writer who terribly misses her maid, Cons Originally, I thought this book should have been retitled The Hype. There is Skeeter, a twenty-two-year-old aspiring writer who terribly misses her maid, Constantine. Aibileen is an experienced and knowledgeable black maid who is currently taking care of her seventeenth child, Mae Mobley, even though she realizes what's at stake for both of them.

And Minny is a fierce, sassy cook who doesn't take nonsense from anyone, even when it risks her employment. This tumultuous trio takes the first step in sparking a movement that will ignite fire to the racism and hypocrisy of their small town. My synopsis of the story probably isn't even a tenth of the merit it deserves. I don't want to spoil too much about the book, but the most amazing thing about The Help is its characters. They are so real, so lifelike, I could feel their thoughts pulsing through my head and their emotions racing through my veins.

I was angry alongside them, cheered for them, and cried with them. I think everyone should read this book, especially people who are ignorant about the racism and hypocrisy that still manages to plight everyday society.

The Help wasn't just a darn good read, but something that has made me reevaluate and examine my own morals. I'll never forget it. Want to read more of my reviews? View all 25 comments. The Help is a touching novel that explores the lives of black maids living in the racially unjust, Mississippi in the s, by using the perspective of two black maids and a female, white writer.

Minny and Aibileen are the two maids who are close friends and like many other maids, have spent the majority of their life cleaning up after white families and raising their kids. Skeeter is the third character the novel centres around, she fondly remembers her own maid, Constantine but lacks informatio The Help is a touching novel that explores the lives of black maids living in the racially unjust, Mississippi in the s, by using the perspective of two black maids and a female, white writer.

Skeeter is the third character the novel centres around, she fondly remembers her own maid, Constantine but lacks information about her disappearance and current whereabouts.

Her ambition to write and love for her childhood carer lead her and the maids to eventually come together and become invoved in a dangerous project which puts all their lives at risk. This novel hooked me from the start as it deals with important issues and gives a unique perspective with interesting characters. It looks at the civil rights movement from a different angle as it uses maids who help in a very different way, as they simply describe their work so it can be printed into a book.

However, it is not as simple as just telling their story as their eventual willingness to outline their work, immediately puts everyone involved in a threatening position. This danger lurks over all the maids involved for the whole story, creating tension and atmosphere.

The novel switches between three characters,Aibileen,Minny and Skeeter. I loved all of the characters especially Minny as she'll talk back and can be quite funny.

Her interactions with her employers and others is a delight to read as she's written so well. All viewpoints are gripping but for me, Minny was definitely the best and I would have prefered if she had more chapters than Skeeter.

I enjoyed Kathryn Stockett's writing as I thought she did an excellent job at creating tension,painting an image and giving the characters complexities. The plot was engrossing as there was never a dull moment and no parts I felt needed to be cut out. For me, this was a fantastic book which I thought dealt with racial themes and inequality brilliantly. This is a book I would definitely pick up again. View all 26 comments. This is a powerful story about women's relationships with each other, and how they are affected by race and class , told from the viewpoints of three women two black maids and a young white woman.

It is set in segregated Jackson, Mississippi, in , at the dawn of the civil rights movement, but it's local and domestic, rather than looking at the big picture. The first third of the book establishes the main characters and their situation and relationships; the rest of it revolves around a This is a powerful story about women's relationships with each other, and how they are affected by race and class , told from the viewpoints of three women two black maids and a young white woman.

The first third of the book establishes the main characters and their situation and relationships; the rest of it revolves around a dangerous plan to write about their lives: It is a novel about individuals, and makes no pretence of being a history of the civil rights movement, but given the subject matter, it arouses strong feelings see below, including comments, for some of the reasons.

Passions run high in those with direct experience or detailed knowledge of racial issues in the US. My comments are the reaction of a fairly ignorant outsider. For a deeper, more complex, and educational for me way of looking at the legacy of slavery on race relations, see Octavia Butler's Kindred , review here. It's also about other relationships, especially between women: Husbands don't generally come out of it well.

There is an awkward pact involved for white mothers: As Skeeter says, "They raise a white child and then 20 years later the child becomes the employer. It's that irony that we love them and they love us, yet we don't even allow them to use the toilet in the house". There are opportunities to sway young minds and Aibileen tries especially hard , whilst thinking, "Baby Girl, who I know, deep down, I can't keep from turning out like her mama".

The maids' jobs and colour also have a negative effect on their own mothering. Not only do some of the white children feel the help loves them more than their own mothers; in some cases they are right, and that causes other tensions and problems. Yet firing the help is not always an option: The three main characters are very strong women, and each gradually finds the strength to follow her conscience, despite the personal risks, to the point where Skeeter realises "I no longer feel protected because I am white".

They learn, grow, awaken, and take some control over the future. However, if I were an African-American, or raised in the deep south, I'm sure these aspects would seem much less significant in comparison to the race theme. When I read this, I had no idea how accurate any of it is I have subsequently learned of many doubts , but in terms of individual relationships, it rings true to this Brit, especially the different voices through which the story is told.

It was also interesting that the maids were so used to "the lines", that they disliked it when they were crossed, e. Not between her and me, not between her and Hilly". Yet the maids train their own children into subjugation by teaching the rules "for working for a white lady". This has strange effects: Two events bring Skeeter and Aibileen even closer: Skeeter is haunted by a copy of Jim Crow laws she found in the library, and she receives a letter from a publisher in New York interested in Skeeter's idea of writing the true stories of domestic servants.

Skeeter approaches Aibileen with the idea to write narratives from the point of view of 12 black maids. Aibileen reluctantly agrees, but soon finds herself as engrossed in the project as Skeeter.

They meet clandestinely in the evenings at Aibileen's house to write the book together as the town's struggles with race heat up all around them. Aibileen brings in her best friend, Minny, a sassy maid who is repeatedly fired for speaking her mind, to tell her story, too. Hearing their stories changes Skeeter as her eyes open to the true prejudices of her upbringing. Aibileen and Minny also develop a friendship and understanding with Skeeter that neither believed possible.

Along the way, Skeeter learns the truth of what happened to her beloved maid, Constantine. Constantine had given birth, out of wedlock, to Lulabelle who turned out to look white even though both parents were black.

Neither the black nor the white community would accept Lulabelle, so Constantine gave her up for adoption when she was four years old. When the little girl grew up, she and Constantine were reunited. While Skeeter was away at college, Lulabelle came to visit her mother in Jackson and showed up at a party being held in Skeeter's mother's living room.

When Charlotte Phelan discovered who Lulabelle was, she kicked her out and fired Constantine. Constantine had nowhere else to go, so she moved with her daughter to Chicago and an even worse fate. Skeeter never saw Constantine again.

Skeeter's book is set in the fictional town of Niceville and published anonymously.

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Set in Jackson, Mississippi in the early s, 'The Help' by Kathryn Stockett shows the peak of racial segregation. The book is narrated by three very different women; Minny, a black maid unable.

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We have the Best book review sites and Book Review Blog - The best research papers help offers state of the art book review assistance. Summary and reviews of The Help by Kathryn Stockett, plus links to a book excerpt from The Help and author biography of Kathryn Stockett.