The winner of The Help was Lindymc! Congratulations!
I’ve had my eye on The Help by Kathryn Stockett for a couple of months now. I don’t remember where I first saw it, only that when I read the premise (two black maids and one white young woman in 1962 Mississippi “…come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk.”), I knew I’d love it. Do you ever get that feeling when you read about a book that you’ll just love it? There’s not really any doubt in your mind, and it’s almost like a premonition (even though I don’t believe in those things)? That’s what I felt when I read about The Help.
I know, I know: enough introduction, right? Okay, whatever! I’m getting on with it. Sheesh.
The Help is about three women: Skeeter, who’s 22 and a college graduate; Aibileen, who is middle aged, is a black maid and nannying her 17th white child; and Minny, who is in her late 30s, is Aibileen’s best friend, can’t help but tell people what she really thinks, so even though she’s the best cook in her whole area, she’s just about run out of people who will hire a sassy cook.
This book takes place in 1962 in Jackson, Mississippi, which is right around the time that Martin Luther King, Jr. was giving speeches and the civil rights movement was gaining momentum with desegregation.
Skeeter wants to be a writer, and somehow she gets it into her brain that there should be a book about what it’s like for black women who work for white families: how they’re treated, the bonds that form, and the truth of these relationships. Some stories are heart warming, and some are heart breaking.
But the best characters? Well, that would be Aibileen and Minny. They’re night and day of each other, but oh, the personalities those ladies have! I thought I might be able to turn to one while I was reading and just starting talking to her, they were so real.
Here’s Minny. She’s just gotten another job, and she’s very relieved:
I sit in the sagging seat of the Ford Leroy’s still paying his boss twelve dollars every week for. Relief hits me. I have finally gotten myself a job. I don’t have to move to the North Pole. Won’t Santy Claus be disappointed.
HAHAHAHA!! That passage made me guffaw out loud. Santy Claus? I’m still giggling over that.
The authors descriptions are vivid and often comical. Here, Skeeter is describing her room at her parents’ house:
My childhood bedroom is the top floor of my parents’ house. It has white-frosting chair rails and pink cherubs in the molding. It’s papered in mint green rosebuds. It is actually the attic with long, sloping walls, and I cannot stand straight in many places. The box bay window makes the room look round. After Mother berates me about finding a husband every other day, I have to sleep in a wedding cake.
“I have to sleep in a wedding cake.” Brilliant.
This book is about the book that Skeeter, Aibileen, and Minny write, each of them contributing to it in some way. It is about Skeeter growing and changing as a person at a time and in a place where civil rights were not what the white people wanted. It is about Aibileen and Minny having a method of telling their story and facing down their own demons.
As I was reading this book, I couldn’t stop talking about it. I was telling everyone about it. The bus driver. Co-workers. My husband. People on the street. Book club members. I was giddy with the knowledge that I was reading something wonderful. I loved the friendships, the characters, and the situations. I loved the dialogue. I loved the writing. I loved that each character had a unique narrating voice. I loved that I had the feeling over and over that the author “gets” people, human nature. I loved the various friendships and relationships; some of them good and healthy, some bad and destructive.
I loved it, and I know you will, too.
Rating: 98 out of 100
Check out Kathryn Stockett’s website here.
For the giveaway! I loved this book so much, that in an effort to support bookstores, I will buy a copy of this book for you. Even better, Kathryn Stockett is coming to Book Passage on March 25th, and I can get your book autographed for you. If you don’t want to wait that long, that’s fine. I’ll send you the book autograph-less.
To enter the contest, answer this question: Have you ever had “help” in your house? Whether it be a maid, housekeeper, nanny, cook, etc. If you do not answer this question, you will not be entered in the contest.
To gain four extra entries, you can either Twitter about this contest, stumble this post, or send an email to five friends, cc’ing me on the email. Make sure you leave a link to anything extra that you do. Good luck!
Contest will be open until February 28th.