Jan. 30th, 2012

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Title: The Help
Author: Kathryn Stockett
Genre: Historical fiction
Rating: 5/5
# pages: 443
Date read: January, 2012

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 short, fat, and 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've wanted to read this ever since I saw the movie last year. I loved the movie, and was eager to see how the book compared. Thankfully the movie was very close to the book, so I ended up loving the book just as much as the movie.

I've heard many critics complain that it paints too rosy a picture of the reality, but I don't agree at all. It's very obviously just a selection of experiences and makes it clear that there were many, many others to be found - both some better and some worse. It's a tricky book to write - especially for a white person - but I think Kathryn Stockett handled it well and approached it with humility and poise.

I wouldn't be surprised if this ends up being the best book I read all year.

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