Reader reviews and comments on The Help, plus links to write your own review.

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The Help

by Kathryn Stockett

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2009, 464 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2011, 528 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Sarah Sacha Dollacker

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There are currently 53 reader reviews for The Help
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Lee

Interesting book
I think this book is very interesting because we can compare the book with today's time.
Power Reviewer Cloggie Downunder

a wonderful moving tale
The Help is the first novel by Kathryn Stockett. Set in the early sixties in Jackson, Mississippi, the story is narrated in three voices: two black maids (“help”) and a young white woman. Aibileen Clark is a wise Negro woman who has raised 17 white children, and lost a son of her own. She works for Elizabeth and Raleigh Leefolt and derives great joy from their Baby Girl, Mae Mobley, although she is under no illusion that this will last. Minny Jackson is a sassy young Negro with a talent for cooking who has trouble keeping her opinions to herself, a trait that has seen her fired from a great many positions. Her latest job is for newcomers, Celia and Johnny Foote, whom she hopes won’t hear of her reputation; Celia, though, is too busy keeping her own secrets. Eugenia (Skeeter) Phelan has just graduated from college, where her Mama hoped she would find a husband, but Skeeter wants to be a writer much more than a wife. She misses her beloved Negro maid, Constantine, who has disappeared and no one will tell her where. When Skeeter’s writing ambition crystallises into a book about the experiences of black maids in white households, Aibileen and Minny decide to become involved despite the enormous risk.
This novel touches on many topics, including racial segregation and civil rights and the relationship between Negro employees and their white employers. The feel of the sixties is beautifully evoked with the inclusion of many icons like the Pill, Valium, space exploration, ring pull cans, the Vietnam war, the introduction of Zip codes and sex before marriage. The characters are multifaceted and the dialogue is pitch-perfect. There is humour and heartache, cruelty and kindness, romance and suspense. We learn that revenge is sweet, especially in the form of Minny’s Chocolate Pie. The prose is, on occasions, luminous: “If chocolate was a sound, it would’ve been Constantine’s voice singing.” The ultimate lesson is that the lines between black and white, between quality and trash, between employer and employee are not as definite as they might at first seem. And, as Aibileen says” Kindness don’t have no boundaries”. One of the dangers of reading a novel with so much hype is the very real possibility that the reader’s expectations will be too high, and disappointment follows; the exception is, of course, when the novel lives up to the hype, as this one assuredly does. I loved this wonderful, moving story.
Kate

Awesome! Wonderful!
A wonderful great book! So enjoying and learning!
Tiffany

A Moving First Novel
This book is one that will not disappoint. Although it may seem like it is "cliche" or "dull", it is not. The wonderful first novel is truly moving. Not only did it open they eyes of a book hater (as in someone who has not read a book for personal pleasure in nearly 4 years), it encourages people of all ages, color, sex, etc. to appreciate who they are and what makes them unique as an individual. There is no shame in being proud of who one is. The adaptation of the book to movie is done rather well, but for the audience who has only watched the movie, I strongly suggest reading this book. While the movie offers wonderful imagery and stunning actresses, it is just not as satisfying as reading the well written book. The novel offers much more commentary, allowing the reader to truly understand each character, where the movie only allows the viewer to see the character's actions. While reading the book, read it slowly and take the time to really think and understand what is being said and written. Every word counts.
-Tiffany, 14
Artz

the help-a work of art
I am enjoying it. This is not a history book. (If I recall correctly, my history text books were loaded with errors.) This is a novel. It is done by an artist who is painting a picture. A picture of an American landscape - the south. Something is missing from the landscape of the South. Some of it was hidden, some lost, some buried or forgotten. She has uncovered a small portion of the missing landscape and it catches our eye. Some of us stare at this abstract painting for hours. Others can only look for a few seconds (because we cannot understand why her sky is red instead of blue). Her style reminds me of the painter Norman Rockwell...I shall take this one home... and hang it on my wall... to stare at.
Rachelle

deeper meaning
I think this is an important book because of the bigger picture it provides. Some have criticized it for dialect, inconsistency, and inaccuracy. The author addresses these issues in her note, and does not claim the book to be perfect. It is my opinion that she exposes the overt racism well, but she exposes the subtle racism in a masterful way. Subtle racism is still a large problem today, and this book brings attention to a still relevant issue by giving us a background of the attitudes our parents and grandparents had. Literary perfection is not the point of this book, although it is well written. I will read this book again in the future and watch the movie when it comes out. Reading this book gave me a glimpse into the lives of these black women (and their oppression) that I will never forget. I am sad that this is a part of our history as Americans, and I think it is important to talk about it, bring attention to it, and never forget how they were treated, and to recognize how wrong it was.
Terry Smith, M. A.

An exceptional and enthralling account of the old South
I could not help but cry as I read Stockett's novel of interest. I could not put the book down, for I am a product of both a mother and a grandmother who served as the "HELP." The stories they related to me in my adult years were unbelievable and heart-wrenching. The things they tolerated, yet they remained quiet and cooperative, knowing that all they endured was for their babies to have a roof over their head and food in their little stomachs. Stockett has done a superb job in capturing the real flavor of that era about which America does not wish to verbalize. I can hardly wait for the movie adaptation to appear. Indeed, I am a fan of this great writer.
Mel

Children of the help
My grandmother was "the help". I grew up knowing that she'd spent her life loving children like MaeMo. She told me stories about the children who needed her to love them. I have a picture of my grandmother right out of Miss Leefolt's bridge club, where she's holding a silver tea service; wearing a freshly washed white uniform just like Aibileen. Thankfully, unlike Minny, my Grandmother didn't groom my mother to grow up and get her own white family. While The Help captured the complexity between the Black domestics and the white families they proudly served, the children of the help have a side that's yet to be told.

Beyond the Book:
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