Sunday, January 8, 2012
The Help is set in Jackson, Mississippi in the early 1960's. Aibileen Clark is a black maid there. Her speciality is taking care of white children, and she is taking care of her 17th child, a child ignored by her mother. Aibileen is dutiful in reminding the little girl everyday how special she is, but she knows that she can't stop the girl from turning out just like her mother and believing that black people are beneath her. Aibileen also can't shake the feeling that something needs to be done about the racial injustices in Jackson.
Minny Jackson is the best cook around. However she is very mouthy and has trouble keeping a job as a maid. She is fired from the job she has been working at for five years because she has done something awful to her employers daughter, Hilly Holbrook, top lady in Jackson. Soon Minny is working for a mysterious newcomer who doesn't know the rules of Jackson. While juggling her job, Minny is also finding out that you don't mess with Hilly.
Skeeter Phelan has just graduated from college. She's smart and ambitious, but all her mother cares about is a wedding ring. Skeeter is best friends with Aibileen's employer and Hilly. After sending a letter to a New York City publishing company, Skeeter gets an idea. This idea is incredibly dangerous, but she is determined to follow through on it. Soon Minny and Aibileen are part of it too. The three of them, plus a handful of other maids, are writing a book. This book is going to be about what it's like to work as a black maid in Jackson. But when the white women in Jackson find out-especially Hilly-the three of them may have bit off more then they can chew.
This book was a great experience for me. It combined a great story with an engaging plot with a lot of learning. I liked it a lot--it was the kind of the book I could re-read--and I think that a lot of people would agree with me.
The Help was truly a melting pot of genres. It has historical fiction, realistic fiction, information about civil rights and mystery(though perhaps not fantasy). If you like those things, go for it! Even if you don't like them, I recommend reading this book. I know that I am better off having read it. I hope that you will be too.