Book Review: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Attention: I just found my new favorite book.

Today, I finished reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett, and I am currently suffering from those post-book blues during which one feels an irrational sense of melancholy longing for a fictional world. I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of this book and, despite its considerable length and my busy schedule, sped through it in about a week.

Length: 444 pages

Genre: I would categorize this as historical fiction. It takes place only about 55 years ago, but the society in The Help was so foreign to me that I would definitely place this book separate from literature that takes place in present day. The Help is realistic, which is the fiction I tend to gravitate towards. There are no radical, exciting events in the story; rather, the distinction of the story lies in its poignant lessons and character relations.

Summary: The Help follows three women in 1960’s Jackson, Mississippi as they embark on a dangerous mission to write and publish a book that tells stories from the point of view of black maids working for white families. Such a book, crossing serious societal lines, and for the first time bringing the stories and opinions of black women to light, poses serious consequences for the women involved. Skeeter, the white woman who started the project as a way to launch her career as a writer, faces the loss of everyone she loves for her involvement in the radical civil rights movement. Aibileen and Minny, the black maids who assist her, risk losing their jobs and being hunted down by white supremacists.

Why I loved it: Not only was it truly astonishing and enlightening to learn about such a tumultuous time period, but this seemingly simple story reveals the discrepancy between social boundaries and the beauty of human connection. I cherish a good book that dares to cross over into the territory of real issues affecting humans, whether it be past or present. Stockett gives her characters such relatable obstacles that I practically forgot it was all fiction. Also, she somehow pulls off writing from the point of view of both white and black women, and does so with grace and authenticity.

My rating: 10 out of 10

Even if you’ve already seen the movie, do yourself a favor and get your hands on the book.

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