Book Review - The Help, Katheryn Stockett

Updated: Nov 9, 2021

The front cover of The Help with characters from the film adaptation

The Help, starting to look a bit worn. Photo Credit – Ashleigh Nicole

Warning : May contain spoilers!

Set in Jackson, Mississippi during the 1960s, this book tells the tale of a world where “black maids raise white children but aren’t trusted to steal the silver”. For the characters of the book, it is a scary world but an unlikely bond is formed between white college graduate Skeeter and black maid Abilene, as they join forces to write a book telling the truth about what it's like to work for a white woman in Jackson.

This is a book written with a considerable amount of grace, and it didn't just paint the white families with hate and cruelty - although how close to the truth this is, I couldn't say. Some of the stories told by the maids showed love and kindness.

The characters are brilliantly written. Skeeter, Minny, and Abilene are so bold and see something that many of the other characters don’t see – that it doesn’t matter who you are, kindness has no boundaries.

The cruel bitterness of Hilly is at times cringe-worthy but she is the fuel for the book that they are writing – it is her treatment of the maids that opens Skeeters eyes, and although she is the popular girl that everyone follows, you quickly learn that she is actually very naive, as are many of the girls that blindly follow her.

When reading this book though, what you must remind yourself of is that this isn’t the story of racial segregation in America. This is the fiction story of racial segregation in Jackson, Mississippi. This book does not contain every single issue of racial segregation, nor does it pretend to have changed the world.

This is a book that has the ability to make me laugh and to make me cry. It is one that I've read about 4/5 times, and so I would recommend it to anyone.

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