H: The Help

By Sarah Beningfield

The Help by Kathryn Stockett is a novel full of beauty and poignant truth. Set in 1962, it focuses on three women in the town of Jackson, Mississippi and the way that their lives intertwine during a series of events.

The first of the three women is Skeeter, a 22-year-old who has recently returned to Jackson after graduating from Ole Miss. She is an open-minded and kind soul who soon becomes curious over the strange disappearance of her family maid, Constantine.

Aibileen is the second woman; she is the domestic worker of a local family and helps to raise their neglected young daughter. She is probably the only person to show the toddler any love, as the child’s parents are cold and disinterested. Aibileen is still heart-broken over the death of her 24-year-old son, who died in a work-related accident, and is upset that no one showed any interest after his death.

The third woman is a character who is impossible not to love. Minny is full of sass and is not afraid to say what is on her mind, which is not always a good idea when you are a black domestic worker in the South in the 1960’s.

Skeeter wants to be a writer, and, soon after returning home, comes up with the idea of compiling the stories of domestic workers around Jackson and writing a book about their lives. When her book, called Help is published, there is an uproar around the town. The names of the maids were kept anonymous, but every household tries to figure out if any of the stories of bad treatment are about them.

Skeeter’s relationship with Aibileen grows as Aibileen also helps her with a cleaning column that she offered to write for a local paper, despite knowing nothing about cleaning. Minny and Aibileen are best friends and Aibileen is constantly advising Minny to keep her mouth shut, as her recklessness gets her fired on a regular basis.

The Help follows each of their lives and details the difficulties that they are faced with in the process of creating the book and dealing with its aftermath. It is full of other strong characters, drama, romance and sadness. There are countless situations that will cause outbursts of laughter, and some that could cause a teary eye. The emotional rollercoaster is worth it. This book is an absolute must-read.

A memorable quote from this novel:

“You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”

Readers who would enjoy this:

Those who enjoy a mix between history and fiction. The story is beautifully written and captivating. The audience for this book could be absolutely everyone!

Other books beginning with ‘H’:

Harry Potter – J.K. Rowling

The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins

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