Review: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

The HelpThe Help by Kathryn Stockett
Read: May 12 – May 14, 2013
Personal read.

Goodreads Book Blurb: Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step.

Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.

Minny, Aibileen’s best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody’s business, but she can’t mind her tongue, so she’s lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.

Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.

My Opinion: I loved The Help. My book club had read it a while back, and I bought it then, but chose not to read it. Then the movie came out. And I did something I hate to do. I watched the movie before I read the book. And I loved the story so much that I decided I needed to read the book. (For the record I saw the movie pretty recently on the free movie channels.)

I think the biggest mark of The Help being a good book for me was how uncomfortable I was while reading it. I feel like Stockett did a fantastic job of building the world of 1960’s Mississippi and the racism that plagued the country. My discomfort comes from the fact that real people were (and unfortunately still can be) like this. She also really explored the relationships between white women, their children, and their black maids at the time. It was really interesting for me to see the different dynamics in those various relationships, and I felt they were well written.

While the book made me feel uncomfortable a lot of the time, it also made me feel warm, it made me laugh, it made me mad, it made me cheer. It took me through the entire range, leaving no stone unturned.

The other thing I liked about The Help was the characters. Because this isn’t really an action packed novel, the characters are really important. While some of the background characters lacked depth, I really felt like Aibileen, Minny and Skeeter were really well done. We got to explore their minds, their personal thoughts, and their thoughts as a group. It was fantastic.

Stockett did a great job of writing in dialect, as well. There is a right way and a wrong way to write dialect and accents, and I felt like Stockett did it the right way.

Bottom Line: A very readable book with great characters.


6 thoughts on “Review: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

  1. I loved this book, so much. Like you, I watched the movie first and then read the book, but because both were equally great, I didn’t mind. The movie was very true to the book, thankfully. It’s very hard to write accents and dialect, and I’m jealous of how Stockett pulled it off. I wish I had her talent! Great review! You can take a look at my own review of this book here:

    • Yeah, this is one rare case where the movie and the book are almost equal. In some cases I preferred the book and in others I preferred the movie, which is a testament to the strength of the story, I think. I remember reading a blurb on writing dialect not long before I read this book, and I was like… oh. This is perfection in practice.

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