2. “The help” by Kathryn Stockett

Publisher: Penguin Books, 2009
Page count: 451 pages

“The help” is a book about 3 women in Jackson, Mississippi during the civil rights movement in the early 1960s. The protagonists are Minny, a black maid who is a wonderful cook but can’t help talking back at her white employers; Aibileen, a black maid who has looked after a series of white children but always leaves them when they reach the age of 7 or 8 because she can’t bear to see them adopt their parents’ racist attitudes; and Miss Skeeter, a young, white woman who comes home from college only to find that her beloved maid Constantine has disappeared without a trace.

Skeeter is still living at home at a cotton plantation with her domineering mother but dreams of becoming a writer. Unlike her friends and family, she disagrees with the segregationist policies prevalent in the South and secretly wishes to defy them. Under the guise of needing housekeeping advice from Aibileen for a column in the local newspaper, Skeeter therefore enlists the help of Aibileen and Minny to write an anonymous book of the cruelty, mistrust but also occasional acts of kindness that the white employers in Jackson show their black help.

This is a wonderful, wonderful book, and I cannot recommend it too highly. In turns leaving me teary-eyed, outraged or laughing out loud, the story and characters in “The help” felt so true to life that it is almost hard to believe the book is a work of fiction and not a documentary of the South during the civil rights movement. What makes the book even better than a documentary, however, is the way you feel that you are part of these women’s thoughts, feelings, and experiences as if you were right there with them. Therefore, you can’t help but feel nervous and jittery as the book is published or delight as one of the characters finally leaves her no-good wife-beater of a husband. To conclude, I envy you if you have not yet read this book, what a treat you have ahead of you!


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