on November 3, 2011
This book is funny and gripping, unique in its colloquial expressions, one should buy it, read it, highlight it, and then keep it handy and refer to it just for a giggle if not for precious sound advice.
I have not seen the movie yet but I doubt it does it justice, so I am still hesitant if to see it or not, as I would not want to erase the bubbling joy I felt when listening to this book, a crescendo of laughter, the audio book being very beautifully read by different women (each with their own perspective - following the book trail) and that makes such a difference, for the originality of the language is preserved and thoroughly enjoyed.
The main story in itself is not too complicated and almost entirely revealed by the movie trailer. There is a Southern young girl freshly returned from college who realises more and more she does not fit in with her young friends, whose ideas of life involve getting a husband (primary reason for a girl to go to college in those days), making some babies, mostly a sense of duty and not necessarily desire of motherhood, and then shopping, hair parlour, having nails done, make-up carefully applied, and more frequent than not, torturing the help. The girl wants to write more than anything and gets the idea of writing about the help, controversial and dangerous subject but the only one approved by a publishing house. The time of the narration makes all things extremely inciting as it takes place during the civil rights movement in the United States, when and where racism is as hard as it gets.
The other stories are related and referring to the main story, they complete it via different perspectives, those of black women servants stripped of so much and having to stoop to the lowest of lows although inexplicably - even to themselves- they are also the nannies for the white babies, from conception to almost maturity. Life is hard but they keep on living, there is poverty, marital abuse, futile death and malicious unpunished injury, so much injustice that it makes you cringe. (...) See the entire review at allwords.ca
This is the story of three unforgettable women who strive for change in America. It takes place in 1962, Jackson, Mississippi during the Civil Rights Movement.
Aibileen is a black maid, raising her seventeenth white child. She also does the cooking, cleaning, and ironing for a mere $43 a week from 8-4, six days a week. She is a lovable character, devoted to the child she is raising, and an honest and proud lady. Looking after baby Mae Mobley is a distraction and a help in overcoming the sadness she feels after losing her son Treelore.
What boggles her mind is that she can raise white children but she cannot use her employer's bathroom.
Minnie, Aibileen's best friend, also a black maid is a sassy one. She is short and stocky, but the one problem she has is that she can't hold her tongue. She is known throughout for being a great cook, but because of her loose tongue, she loses one job after another. However, her best friend Aibileen gets her a job with a newcomer, Celia Foote,a poor country girl who has married a wealthy man and has never had a maid. Minnie goes for the job interview and gets the job providing she keeps the job a secret. Mrs. Celia Foote doesn't want her husband to know and wants her husband to think that she is doing all the work by herself. Minnie doesn't like the idea but goes along with it until........
Miss Skeeter, a 22 year old white socialite, has just returned home from College, Ole Miss,with her degree and a need to write. Her mother makes nothing of her degree and is only interested in seeing Skeeter married. Miss Skeeter has plans of her own and has applied for an editing position at Harper and Row Publishers. She receives a letter from Elaine Stein, Senior Editor, with a couple of suggestions. Firstly, to be in the business of writing she would need a minimum of five years experience. Secondly, she tells Skeeter to write about what disturbs her, particularly if it bothers no one else. Skeeter gets a job with the Jackson Journal and her writing begins.
Miss Skeeter decides that she is going to write about what it's like to be a black maid in a white home. To do so, she goes directly to the black maids themselves and promises them she won't reveal their names, because they are fearful of losing their jobs and under those conditions they agree. Word gets around and very soon other black maids come forth to tell their stories and a story is in the making.
Kathryn Stockett's writing is so refreshing and humourous, but at the same time she gets her point across on the evil of Racism. She has a talent for capturing the way Aibileen and Minnie would speak in comparison with the well educated Miss Skeeter.
This book will fill you with sadness, anger, frustration as well as Hope for a better life.
Kathryn Stockett's debut book is a WINNER.
I loved one of the comments on the back cover of this book (British print): "A laugh-out-loud, vociferously angry must-read". I would only add "Unequivocally poignant and touching".
I would give it 10 stars if I could. Love, hate, integration, familial relationships, tolerance, hope... this is what the book is about. A delightful, funny, moving read. Upsetting and uplifting at the same time.
Jackson, Mississippi, 1960s. When racial integration was still hardly tolerated, the respective paths of two black maids and a white lady belonging to the upper class circle cross. Their personal tales interweave and blend, with a project in mind which will ultimately rock the proverbial boat.
Each main character writes in first person: Aibileen, who is raising her umpteenth white child with love and dedication while constantly thinking of her own son, now dead.
Minny, Aibileen's close friend, married with several children of her own, a maid with a soft heart but a sharp tongue which gets her into trouble more often than not.
Miss Skeeter, a white lady with her own dreams, whose unconventional ideas contrast mildly, and later on, sharply with the society and family she was born into. She also wants to find out why the adored black maid who raised her, Constantine, has inexplicably disappeared. No one is willing to tell her.
Each lady is surrounded by her own sets of characters in the background, characters that however are primary pawns to what will eventually happen.
The author gives voice to Aibileen's and Minny's language superbly. You will find a language contrast between the well-schooled Miss Skeeter and both maids, which renders a vivid and true portrait of their lives and views.
This is, in my opinion, a rare timeless piece of narrative, which will make you think as well as entertain you like very few books can. Wonderful, really wonderful. Well done to the author Ms. Kathryn Stockett!
Kathryn Stockett's debut novel is like a steam engine that starts nice and slow, then picks up momentum and speeds along. It had me wishing there were more than 450 pages because I did not want it to end! Stockett created such memorable characters that I could almost believe that if I went to Jackson Mississippi I'd meet them.
The Help gives us a glimpse of what it was like to be a black maid during the 1960's in Mississippi'from the point of view of the black maids. Not the stereotypical version of the mammy black maid portrayed by Hollywood, but the version taken from Stockett's own experience of having been raised by a black maid. She captured their voices so well, I could clearly picture those Southern black women, I could feel their despair, their acceptance, their anger, their joy.
Reading this novel filled me with a myriad of emotions. I laughed at some of the humorous situations that came up, felt anger because of the prejudice, sadness at the lack of love not only among the races but also between parent and child, glee at how some were outsmarted, and I had tears of joy for the small victories that became stepping stones to better times. I also cringed because of the profanity, particularly the word g*dd*mn which was used more times than I cared for, although like some of my book club members, you might be so absorbed in the story you might not notice as much. And it ended a little abruptly. I would have liked for the story to continue a little more. When a steam engine train gets rolling it takes time to bring it to a full stop. However, this does not affect the storyline much. It was understood where the characters would go from there.
The book's message is a lofty but fundamental one. At the end of the novel, in her own words, Stockett writes, 'I don't presume to think that I know what it really felt like to be a black woman in Mississippi, especially in the 1960s. But trying to understand is vital to our humanity. In The Help there is one line that I truly prize: 'For women to realize, We are just two people. Not that much separates us. Not nearly as much as I'd thought.''
Well said. Well written. Stockett took on a difficult subject and it seems, effortlessly churned out an unforgettable story with unforgettable characters.
on December 29, 2011
Yes definitely a good read- My question is why is the Kindle version $12.40 But the Paperback version is $9.20.
I thought going with an e-reader was supposed to be economical and customers should be made aware in order to get free books on Kindle you have to subscribe to a yearly fee of approx. $80.00 plus it's linked to Amazon.com not .ca (Canadian) version. Just F.Y.I. to all
on October 1, 2010
Kathryn Stockett has created a masterpiece here. She wraps us up in the lives of her beautifully portrayed characters letting us feel and hear the world they inhabited in Mississippi, of the Sixties. Her use of idiom and wonderfully spelt local dialect inspire the imagination and make her subjects live and breathe on the page. The subject is a universal one, the black verses white war. We are treated to wonderful experiences on both sides of the fence and witness the growth of mutual respect and understanding. I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone from young to old.
The Help is brilliant. I hope K. S. is working on her next novel. I'll be looking out for it.
on September 27, 2011
I kept hearing all the excitement this book and its movie are generating, so I bought a copy and read it cover-to-cover. The author certainly has talent as a writer but I am disappointed at yet another *Great White Hope* story where groups or generations of disenfranchised minorities are powerless until the white hero or heroine swoops in and liberates these poor folk - giving them an avenue to finally express themselves, get an education, get justice... Dangerous Minds, Cry Freedom, The Blind Side, Hardball, Wildcats, Radio, the Love Guru, Cool Runnings, Bagger Vance, Dances With Wolves, Amistad, Ghosts of the Mississippi, Mississippi Burning, Freedom Writers...
And now The Help.
All these told primarily from the white Hero(ine)'s viewpoint where the minority characters are in supporting roles and waiting for the guidance of the messianic white character. I'm tired of these books and films generating all the positive press and revenue when the stories of people who actually had something to lose (besides their country-club membership) play bit parts in their own histories!
on December 25, 2010
This book is so absorbing, so interesting, so well-written and masterfully spun, that I cannot but urge you to run, not walk, to the nearest book store to get your own copy (or, better yet given your current position in front of your computer, to click the buy option and get a copy of this book for yourself and one each for your three favourite people). I was given this book for Christmas - I opened it on Christmas Eve and please note the date that I am writing this review! - I could not stop reading it but I also did not want to race through it, I wanted to savour it and yet stay immersed in it. Truly wonderful.
on February 18, 2011
Loved this book.
Loved the writing. Kathryn Stockett developes wonderful characters that i became very attached to.
She includes wonderful snippets of humour throughout, which i felt helped me to understand the women during this tough period in history.
The book gave me insight to the very difficult times in the Southern United States in the early 1960's.
i was sad when i finished the book, i wanted it to keep going and going.
i would highly recommend it.
on December 29, 2010
I only read this book because it was the assigned reading for my book club. I'm so glad I did because it brought such insight into how white people treated the blacks back in the 60's in Jackson, Mississippi. The mentality of some of the white women was just outrageous. It made me think of what my actions and mentality would've been like in such a time. Anyway, this is definitely a book to read, you won't be disappointed!