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The Help

Title: The Help
Author: Kathryn Stockett
Year First Published: 2009
Page Count: 464
Synopsis: Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step.

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.

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.

Profanity Violence Sexual Content
I initailly gave this book a1/2 rating for profanity. After recently rereading this book, I was surprised to realize that there was more profanity that I realized. I think it's just such a powerful story, it was easy for me to overlook it the first time. But it's there. No "F" words, none of the biggies, but lots of mild profanities and, unfortunately the Lord's name is taken in vain . There are also several storylines that involve toilets and bathrooms, those are not offensive, they are handled very well. There is no description of any violence, but there are mentions of historical events, such as the killing of Medgar Evers. Also, one of the main characters lives in a physically abusive household, and while we never are given any descriptions of the abuse, we do read about the result. The only mentions of nudity and sexuality in the book are used to show that the white employer of an African-American maid will cross all the 1960's social lines to protect her maid from a threat, unlike most of the white women of the time. It is essential to the plot and charactization in the book.
Characterization Plot Overall Rating
This is a book about the characters. As the story develops, you know who these women are. Some you would love to be friends with, some you could never, be friends with, and some you realize you have met before, just their names are different. Some change and grow over the course of the story, some you are afraid will never change, and some you hope will not change. They are characters that you care about. This is an intimate look at a great big historical movement. It personalizes the struggle of a small group of women to come to grips with the events and attitudes that an entire nation struggled with in the 1960's. The details and stories show the attitudes, changes and growth of the characters without ever once being preachy or even presenting a soliloquy on what so-and-so is thinking. We find out through thier actions, which keeps the book moving along at an excellent pace, and allows the author to pack plenty of story into the 400+ pages. This is the best book I have read this year! You will come to love and empathize with the main characters and their struggles, and cheer or jeer the other women in their lives. Don't get this book at the library, buy it, because you will want to lend it to someone else when you are done; but be sure to put your name in it, as you will want it back, so you can read it over and over!
If you really want to enhance the experience, try it in the audio version. The chapters are divided by main characters, Minnie, Miss Skeeter, and Aibilene, and each of these characters is read by a different voice on the audio version. The actors do an excellent job, and give an extra bit of life and enjoyment to presentation of the book. However, the characters and dialogue are so well-written that you certainly don't need to hear the voice out loud to "hear" their voices as they tell their stories.


Focus Friends Setting North America
Focus Coming of Age Setting Earth Based
Main Character Female Time Period Past
Main Character Group Time Period Contemporary
Main Character Adult Type Self Discovery
Number of pages 300-400 Type Historic Event
Readability Moderate Type Historical Fiction Elements

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