The Help

October 14, 2012

By Kathryn Stockett
Reviewed by Morgan Sherwood
Rated 4 out of 5 stars

Aibileen Clark, a black woman from Jackson Mississippi, is a maid that raises children. She raised 17 children only one her own. In 1962, blacks used different bathrooms, busses, libraries, grocery stores, and even lived on different sides of town. Miss Skeeter Phelan, a white upcoming writer, and Aibileen have never spoken outside of a polite greeting until she needs help writing a newspaper column on how to clean. Yes, a woman who has grown up with a maid all of her life is getting paid to tell other people how to clean. Aibileen accidently says too much and tells Miss Skeeter that her son Treelore wanted to write what it was like to be black. In this time period, these thoughts could get one nearly killed if heard by a white man. Miss Skeeter, on the other hand, wants to publish these thoughts. Aibileen will go along with it if they are extremely careful, for if anyone finds out, “First thing a white lady gone do is fire you. You upset, but you figure you’ll find another job. But then a week after you lost your job, you get this yellow envelope stuck in your screen door. Paper inside says NOTICE OF EVICTION. Ever landlord in Jackson be white and ever one got a wife that’s friends with somebody. Then it starts to come a little faster. If you got a note on your car, they gone repossess it. If you got a parking ticket you ain’t paid, you going to jail. If you got a daughter, you go live with her. But a few days later, she say “Mama, I just got fired.” You got a tell her it’s cause a you. Then they fire her husband. Just another little sharp tool, shiny and fine. It’ll be a knock at the door. You realize something you known all your life: the white lady don’t ever forget.” Miss Skeeter needs at least a dozen more maids to interview for the book other than Aibileen. No one will do it. No one is brave enough, until…

The Help is a captivating book showing what it was like to be a black maid in 1962. I loved this book because of the unique look on segregation in the south. In 2011, I had the opportunity to walk Beal Street in Memphis, Tennessee. I was one of the few white people in a mostly black community. The South has definitely transformed from blacks being separate from whites to them working together to create communities. If you enjoy American history and can grasp the concept you will love the story. Kathryn Stockett has an interesting writing style. Every few chapters, the point-of-view changes. It goes from Aibileen, to Miss Skeeter, to Minny (Aibileen’s friend). The book is written with purposeful bad grammar and words such as ain’t and sho (sure), so the reader is transported to the old south. Although the story is mainly about being a black maid, it also demonstrates passion, love, dedication, and making a difference. I loved the amount of details put into this book. They help the reader understand the struggles of segregation. This book is a must-read for anyone who has an interest in American history.

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