The Help by Kathryn Stockett

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

The Help

I read this book for our real-life book group which came together last Friday. Most of the group thought the book was worth a 9 out of 10 while some voted for an 8 or 8.5. Not bad, as we often differ very much in our liking of the books that we discuss. For instance, Wuthering Heights was rated from absolutely awful to very wonderful.

We noticed that the story in the book didn’t take place all that long ago (1960s),  but we all felt the story seemed very old fashioned. I guess part of this is that since after World War II, not many people in the Netherlands have had servants, as in this book.

Here’s my review of the book:

Beautiful book! The story takes place in Mississippi, USA, in the 1960s and is told by three people: two are colored helps that work for white families and one a young white woman who wants to write about the life of domestics and tries to get the other two ladies to help her with this.

Segregation is the norm, so the women talking to each other about such a topic has to happen in secret. Skeeter, the white girl, refuses to publish an item about separate toilets for domestics in the Junior League newsletter that she edits, and is seen as suspect by her peers, and faces being ostracized by her white friends.

Aibileen, one of the domestics, has raised 17 white children in her career, but her own son and only child died at the age of 23 not so long ago. Still, she’s very good with the girl she has to look after, but has her own opinion about the issues she hears the white ladies talk about during their bridge games.

Minny is the other domestic that has a voice in the book, and she only has a job because her current employer comes from out of town and does not know no one is to hire her (Minny has been falsely accused of stealing the table silver of her previous employer).

The book is a brilliant account of how Skeeter gets several domestic helps to tell her their stories and how she tries to get the stories published as a book.

Discussion

In our discussion we used the questions from Readinggroupguides.com. We managed to identify at least one real-life Hilly (the woman all other women listen to, if they want to stay in their exclusive women’s club). We could not think of anything positive that Hilly did – she’s just not a nice woman.

We found the writing style a bit difficult to read sometimes (Aibileen writes an ungrammatical English that was (or is?) used by blacks a lot in talking). However, we could totally imagine Aibileen talking like that and it gave her a stronger voice.

With regard to the cake, some thought they would have done exactly the same as Minny. Personally, I don’t think I could ever have done that, though! What Minny did exactly, I cannot reveal, it’s a big secret in the book that is very helpful in eventually getting Hilly to sing a different tune.

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About Leeswammes
I'm owner and editor at bookhelpline.com. In my free time, I read and review books on my two blogs, Leeswammes' Blog and De Boekblogger.

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