Book Review: The Help

Kathryn Stockett's novel The Help is full of glorious phrases and unforgettable characters. 

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

The Help
By Kathryn Stockett
Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam, 2009

“In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women, mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends, view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don’t.”

From the book jacket for The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Book Summary: The Help

Kathryn Stockett’s novel, The Help, tells the story of three women who join forces to change the way life works in one small town in 1962 Mississippi.

Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from college. It is a truth universally acknowledged in 1962 Mississippi that a white woman with a college degree must be in pursuit of a husband. Or at least, that’s what Skeeter’s mom thinks. Skeeter herself would rather make a living as a writer.

Aibileen is a black maid, who has made a career of raising other people’s children, while mourning the loss of her own child. Minny, Aibileen’s best friend, is an amazing cook, but is fired from one job after another because she can’t keep her mouth short.

None of the three women are content with the life society has laid out for them. Can they work together to forge a life that they themselves would want?

What I thought of The Help

“This woman talk like she from so deep in the country she got corn growing in her shoes.”

The Help by Kathryn Stockett, p. 25.

I’m a sucker for writing like that. This bit appeared on page 25, which means that Stockett had me hooked for the rest of the book hoping more gems would pop up (they did). They were almost all in the Aibileen section given the way the voices were written, but Minny’s character was so strong and so richly drawn and sometimes so very funny that I enjoyed reading her too.

Skeeter’s section irritated me the most. Not at first, but toward the end, when the magic happens and the first draft of her book is accepted for publication and (apparently) published pretty much as is with very little fuss. That’s just not how the process works, and it irritated me to see that stereotypical writer-achieves-dream-on-first-try sequence play out in yet another book. (Yes, yes I know that the timing of the story required that the book publishing part had to go smoothly to preserve the tension, but still. It bugged me.)

But not enough to keep me from seeing the movie.

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