Thursday, 30 June 2011

Book Review: The Help

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 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.

I can't believe how many times I went into Chapters or the library and passed this book by! It's not that I wasn't aware of how many good reviews The Help has recieved in the press, but I was wary that it would not live up to the hype. After seeing the trailer for the movie adaptation, however, I finally motivated myself to pick up a copy and give it a try. I am so glad I did! The Help was a rollercoaster ride of emotion and I loved every minute of it! From moments that warmed my heart to those that had me clenching my fists in anger, The Help made me feel like I was participating with the characters in their journey through the story.

There has been some criticism online and in the media that Kathryn Stockett's characters were artificial and failed to portray the African American voice in the South. I am neither African American or from the south, but I couldn't help but fall in love with each of the three narrators present in The Help. Out of Skeeter, Aibileen and Minny, however, I couldn't help but love Minny's narration the most! In my personal opinion, Kathryn Stockett really brought to life not only the main characters but the supporting ones as well. For example, Hilly was the perfect villian. Each time her name showed up on the page I had to fight the urge not to strangle her myself! And Miss Celia's naive yet loving character made me want to slap her into reality and then give her a big hug!

Overall, with the release of The Help to the big screen this August I would highly recommend reading this book whether you plan to see the movie adaptation or not! I really hope that the movie lives up to how truly wonderful Kathryn Stockett's novel is, and I'm curious to see how the director will interpret the main plot. The Help has made it on my list of all time favourite books and I look forward to reading it many more times in the future to come!


Steph said...

Nice review, just checked out the trailer and I am more motivated to look at the book now! I already know about how the black maids were treated back then so it'd be cool to read another story about it :)

Jenny said...

Minny was my favorite voice too. But the ending in this one had me a little depressed. Don't ask. I will see the movie, though, just to see how well they adapt it...or not.

Richard said...

i saw the trailer for the first time a couple days ago...totally want to read this now :)

thanks for the review!

Shoshanah said...

I really enjoyed it too. I'm definitely glad I saw this before the movie came, and know I'm just waiting to see how that version will compare to the book.

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