A white woman writes the lives of the black women who work for her and her friends in early 1960s Jackson, Mississippi.
After having a half a dozen people recommend The Help, and then not being able to find it at the library, I decided to take the plunge and buy myself a shiny new hardcover copy. I went in with low expectations, because more often than not I’m disappointed by these kinds of books. Thank goodness I listened to my very smart friends because this was one of the best reads I’ve ever had. I was crying at the end–and I don’t think it was just postpartum hormones.
Aibileen and Minnie are black maids working in deeply segregated Jackson, Mississippi. Skeeter Phelan is a white spinster, member of the Junior League and bridge club regular, who is starting to wish things could be different. The Help is told from all of their points of view as Skeeter embarks on an interview project that will let the maids tell their stories in their own words.
Stockett brings this world to life brilliantly. The relationships between the characters are diamond-sharp, and each person is so unique and specific that every word was a joy to read. She also brings to life the tension of life in the segregated south and shows the struggles faced by Aibileen and Minnie and their friends and family, without being patronizing or handwringingly melodramatic.
I loved this book and I want everyone I know to read it!