The Help by Kathryn Stockett

This is one of those super popular, book clubs love it, type of books that I might normally avoid, however I have a friend who feels the same way and recommended it to me. I’m so glad she did because I loved this.  I thought it was a great story with vivid characters, not to mention a historically/sociologically interesting premise.

Set in Mississippi in 1963 it focuses on four young white women and the black housekeepers who care for their families.  Skeeter is an old maid, though, so she doesn’t have children (she’s 22 or 23.) Skeeter is really the main character.  Since she is single and her friends are married with children and homes of their own she is a bit of an outcast.  She still plays bridge with them and is part of the Junior League (and thus part of the society scene), but she is different.  And different is not welcome.  One thing different about her is her attitude towards the black housekeepers who are simply a part of the culture.  This whole central concept that these young white women (who didn’t work mind you, just played bridge, shopped, etc.) gave the raising of their babies over to black women whom they didn’t trust not to steal or use the same bathroom was just so beyond shocking to me.  I mean sincerely mind boggling, especially since it was true. I spent a lot of the book focused on that and how the families and raising of kids was so different.  But the real story of the book is Skeeter’s idea to write a book that tells the first person experiences of black housekeepers in Jackson, Mississippi.  This proposal is legitimately frightening to the housekeepers who, if they were found out, would ruin their entire families. (The power and vindictiveness of many of the white women was horrifying.)

At times moving, other times laugh out loud funny, there is a good reason this book has been so popular.  I cant’ think what’s not to like about it.


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