Book Review: The Help

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

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

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. 🙂


About Shala Howell

I spent two decades helping companies like Bell Labs, Juniper Networks, and a genetic testing company that was later acquired by CVS translate some of the world’s most complicated concepts into actionable, understandable English. Now I'm working on a much harder problem -- fostering children’s curiosity and engagement in the scientific, artistic, and linguistic world that surrounds them. The first book in my Caterpickles Parenting Series, What’s That, Mom?, focuses on how to use public art to nurture children’s curiosity in the world around them. My next book will focus on science, and how parents without a science degree can answer their curious child's questions without enrolling in a college level refresher course. In the meantime, you can find me blogging about life with a very curious Eleven-Year-Old at, chatting about books and the writing life at, and tweeting about books, writing, science, & things that make me smile at @shalahowell.
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