Monday, December 12, 2011

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

5 Star

Be prepared to meet three unforgettable women: 

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.

Lydia - 5 Star

I finally got around to reading the The Help. I thought I would be disappointed after all the hype which is usually what happens when I don’t jump on a ‘great’ book I keep hearing about, but that was far from the case with this one.

I dragged this novel along to a temp job where I was reception relief and my only responsibility was transferring incoming calls. ‘The computer is solely for your enjoyement’ I quote my trainer as she waved to the solitaire game she was playing when I arrived.  So, after I got bored of solitaire and Facebook, I presumed reading would be OK and dug The Help out of my bag, worrying about how I would become immersed in a book amidst multiple interruptions. I worried needlessly.  The fact that I had to tear my eyes away from the pages numerous times and it still didn’t prevent me from becoming immediately absorbed in this story is evidence of what an easy read The Help is as well as how captivating and entertaining it is right from the first page. I enjoyed it so much I grew aggravated when the phone rang and my dialing skills improved with each call so I could get back to reading. I read over 150 pages that afternoon.   

The Help is all plot and character. There is little description besides character’s observations which is my perfect read. The potential of danger lurking made this a tense read at times and yet I laughed frequently, which surprised me the most about this immensely enjoyable tale. 

The characters, oh, the characters.  Such incredibly vivid, amazing, colourful women graced these pages.  They felt so real that I thought they would jump off the page at me.  Written from three women’s perspectives, I wasn’t at all discouraged as the story flipped around to each narrator. We see the world from Minnie’s feisty point of view and Skeeter’s humanitarian and questioning eyes as well as my favourite, Aibileen, whose love for little Mae Mobbley knows no bounds even though she knows she’s going to have to leave her eventually. My heart ached with their every scene. 

This story was so thought provoking and contained such a wonderful commentary on women and friendship and trust and love. Although Stockett could have taken this novel in terrifying directions, she didn’t. Instead, while maintaining a strong undercurrent of danger, she kept the story uplifting and upbeat. She focused on the strength of these women, their tenacity, hope and courage and I adored the focus on the good lurking behind closed doors. My favourite line was also Stockett’s favourite which addresses female relationships. No spoilers here as it’s towards the end of the novel.  You’ll just have to find it yourself…or if you need a little help it’s addressed in the afterward.

So, if you’ve been holding off on reading The Help because you don’t think it will live up to the hype, don’t.  This is the kind of novel that hits with a solid punch and won’t be forgotten easily. I will definitely remember this novel forever.

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1 comment:

  1. That is exactly how I felt about this one too! Definitely one of my favourites.



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