It seems that everyone I know is just finishing, just starting, or has already read The Help. After reading it myself, it’s clear to see why this soon-to-be-a-movie novel is such a hit!
Set in Jackson, Mississippi in the early 1960’s, when Martin Luther King delivered his famous, world-changing speech and the civil rights movement was in full force, this story is told from the point of view of three different women:
Skeeter – the wealthy, white girl from a traditional cotton-growing southern family whose spent her entire life being raised and cared for by her black maid.
Abileen – the hard-praying, hard-working maid who raises each of the seventeen white babies she’s cared for in her lifetime as her own children.
Minny – the firecracker whose been fired more than fifteen times from sassin’ off to her white bosses but is hired again and again thanks to her delectable cooking.
Uncomfortable in her own skin, Skeeter starts to see the cruelty and unfairness in the segregated lines between white and black – specifically between white women and the black women who work for them. Motivated to open the eyes of the rest of her close-minded world, she embarks on a journey to write a controversial book detailing what it’s like to be a black maid in the south – from the perspective of the maids.
Skeeter teams up with Abileen and Minny to start this secret, dangerous project and as their lives intertwine, the reader learns about Abileen’s deep heartbreak over her lost son and Minny’s difficult home life. We watch as Skeeter’s friends show their true colors and cry for Abileen and Minny’s community which is suffering seemingly insurmountable pain and hardship.
The story leads us through the changes that each of these women must endure for the sake of their project; the friendships lost and gained, the rewards, and the punishments. The lives of the three women and the world they live in becomes so real, you can almost feel the Mississippi summer heat on your own skin.
Overall, I loved this book. It was one of those stories that I just couldn’t put down and at the end of the novel, I wanted so much more. I kept asking the question out loud to myself and my spouse, “But…what happens now!?”
From the author’s perspective, one passage in the novel can really sum up the whole point of the book. For women to realize:
We are just two people. Not that much separates us. Not nearly as much as I thought.
I couldn’t agree more with her. Get out and get a copy today! And then let’s plan a girls night to go and see the movie!