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The Help Kindle Edition
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|Length: 476 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Customers who bought this item also bought
“The two principal maid characters...leap off the page in all their warm, three dimensional glory...[A] winning novel.”—The New York Times
“This could be one of the most important pieces of fiction since To Kill a Mockingbird…If you read only one book...let this be it.”—NPR.org
“Wise, poignant...You’ll catch yourself cheering out loud.”—People
“Graceful and real, a compulsively readable story.”—Entertainment Weekly
“A beautiful portrait of a fragmenting world.”—The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“The must-read choice of every book club in the country.”—The Huffington Post
“At turns hilarious and heart-warming.”—Associated Press
“In a page-turner that brings new resonance to the moral issues involved, Stockett spins a story of a social awakening as seen from both sides of the American racial divide.”—The Washington Post
About the Author
- File size : 1140 KB
- Publication date : February 10, 2009
- Print length : 476 pages
- Publisher : Berkley (February 10, 2009)
- ASIN : B002YKOXB6
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- Language: : English
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #51,226 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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I had avoided it in the past because there was a certain level of hysteria about it, and when people go around quoting books, I kind of get turned off them ("You is kind..."). Also, I had some unease about the idea that the white author was using black stories to sell a book - it felt a little like literary blackface.
ANYWAY, reservations aside, I just completely and absolutely loved this. Lovely characters, nailbiting story (as much as I loved the book, I was terrified the whole time that The Thing was going to happen), beautiful message. It was just great. And it dealt with its subject matter with appropriate sympathy and sensitivity.
For anyone not living on Earth, the story revolves around three characters, Skeeter (yup), a white girl who wants to be a writer and is told by a New York publisher to write about what she cares about, Aibeleen, a domestic helper (they are called "maids" in the book) who has lost her son but nonetheless loves the white people's children she cares for, and Minny, also a maid who has a bit of a problem with talking back to her unreasonable white employers.
Well, it turns out that the thing that Skeeter cares about is civil rights (although she doesn't quite realise it yet). She sets about writing a book about the relationship between white Southern women and their help, and asks Aibeleen, who works for a friend of hers, to get other maids to talk to her. Only problem is that they are actually risking their lives - and certainly their livelihoods - to do so.
The Help is an emotional rollercoaster with a touching message and a strong undercurrent of hope. If you, like me, weren't sure about reading it, I can't recommend it strongly enough.
in two hours. That said, while I liked the movie, the book was far more enjoyable. The author made clever use of the three narrators. At first,
I thought I might be put off by that choice, but once you adjust to the different voices, the rhythm adds an element to the book that a single point-
of-view wouldn't have provided. The three principal characters speak for themselves.
There are profoundly moving moments in the book and the movie. There are some surprising passages. Kathryn Stockett's humor is a riot. I was
reminded of some of the funniest lines in Steel Magnolias, but I think that the humor is much more deftly handled in this book.
I wish that I had written The Help. I'm glad that I read it. What a great book!
Top reviews from other countries
Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.
Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.
Minny, Aibileen's best friend. She can cook like nobody's business, but she can't mind her tongue, so she's lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.
Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.
I cannot describe how amazing this book was to read. I think I read it in a night? Or something crazy like that? I know that I practically devoured it. I didn't know how to feel about Skeeter being one of the people who's points of views we read from. It's a book about racism in the 60s, how would a white person - and especially a white, rich person contribute to that story? Turns out quite a lot, actually...
Skeeter offers another side of things. She offers the ray of hope that black people saw during those times - the start of acceptance. And as much as I loved reading from Skeeter's point of view, it was Aibileen's and Minny's points of views that really hurt my heart. Their voices made me cry because of how unfair they were treated, how they were taken for granted, and how they were treated like they were invisible; a piece of trash. It sickened me.
I also loved the character of Minny. She kept things sassy, but was also there to keep Aibileen grounded and careful. I was relieved when Minny starting working for Ceila because Celia was like Skeeter in a way. She didn't care if Minny and herself sat at the same table, or they used the same bathroom, or ate from the same pots, Ceila didn't see the boundaries, which actually made Minny uncomfortable at first. It was nice to see the boundaries that society had built up break down very slowly. Also... That Terrible Awful Thing that Minny did... Oh. My. God... I was laughing so hard!
The film because the film was just as amazing as the book. It stayed true to the book apart from a couple of things, but even the couple of things that had been changed, they worked really really well and made sense. The film was just as emotional and I thought the casting for Aibileen and Minny was just fantastic. Viola Davis is an amazing actress in general - she can deliver any role perfectly, and then Octavia Spencer is exactly how I imagined Minny would look and act.
What Skeeter, Aibileen and Minny do for the community is enough to give yourself a heart attack. I was so so scared for them, but I wanted them to succeed, I needed them to succeed. This book is just pure perfection and I'm not quite sure which one I liked better; this or The Color Purple. I think each book offers quote different reading experiences and explores different themes, even though both books are about racism in America.
Overall, The Help (book) is amazing and I do recommend that as soon as you finish the book, you watch the film straight after (which is what I did) and it was an incredible experience. Remember: you is kind, you is smart, you is important.
At times the plot is ironic: How bizarre that you would allow a woman to care for your young children and cook your food but not want them to use your toilet because they have "different diseases". At times it's funny. At times it's angry. At times it's full of tension, fear and suspense.
Some people have taken exception to the way the black women's speech is rendered but I found it quite helpful. To those who were bored, God help you.
The best thing about this book for me was the warmth and camaraderie of the black maids amongst themselves, their unswerving loyalty and genuine love and affection. I loved how Aibileen and Minny (and their community) looked out for each other both in the past and as the story progressed and disasters loomed.
Maybe it’s just me, but there’s something about reading stories (or watching programmes/films) about people who are merely friends sharing the kind of love, loyalty and bond we normally consider is reserved for blood family only. I love that the human heart can be so big and it challenges me to consider my own relationships and whether I’ve been all that a friend can be to others in the past.
The contrast between the relationships between these black female maids and the relationship they have with the white families they work for could not be more stark. The black maids do pretty much all the domestic work in the house, including cooking, cleaning, ironing, shopping, child-rearing and serving their white counterparts and their guests when occasion demands.
They essentially play the most intimate role possible in running the household, being responsible for such personal chores as washing marital bedsheets to the crucial pivotal role of raising their children.
I liked the way Kathryn Stockett champions these maids and gives us gentle insight into what their jobs were really like. How they run their own schedule as far as possible despite often unfair demands and how they take great pride in working hard and carrying out their work to a high standard. It occurred to me that the black maids actually did all the work that in our time for most of us, only our own mothers would normally do for us as we were growing up.
Yet despite this, the black women in this book are viewed as inferior lower class human beings, and treated with gross and insulting insensitivity as a daily occurrence.
And much worse, we are introduced to the very real danger to their own and their families livelihoods and lives, purely by virtue of their colour. Theirs is a fearful existence from where there is no real escape and the future of their children is as dangerous and as doomed as their own. I can only imagine what it must have been like to be a black person at that time. In my own mind I can’t help but feel that they were paid but they were still slaves in the system to a great extent.
One of the novel and cleverest features of this book for me was the way Katheryn Stockett tells the story through the voices of three main characters, Aibileen, Minny and Miss Skeeter. They are essentially our heroines and they lead us through a series of events that build on each other towards a new phase in history.
In particular, I loved how Katheryn Stockett illustrated the very real experiences of black females through two very different black women working as maids in different households within the same town community. Both handle themselves completely differently to one another, yet both find it nearly impossible to escape the indignities of the time that are forced upon them.
My favourite of the two maids was easily Aibileen, her kindness, wisdom, silent feistiness and ability to keep her own counsel even when pushed to her limits were worthy of great admiration. Her inner strength, insight and secret intelligence warmed me to her and I especially loved reading how she wrote her magical prayers for the benefit of others every night. (And also to retain her writing skill!) I really loved that the most - her deep compassion for others.
Minny was a fascinating character, described as being mouthy initially and then when we are given access to her own mind and thoughts, I loved reading about the internal conflicts she faced daily between speaking her mind and retaining some decorum, and even on occasion extending kindness and compassion. The sarcastic and dry humoured nature of her thoughts really made me laugh out loud at times. It was impossible not to warm towards her too in the end. As well as be shocked by the revelations of her own personal battles.
The third protagonist, Miss Skeeter was a more challenging character for me. Her naivety, self-absorption and oblivion of what she was asking of the black maids frustrated me. As did the limited extent of her kindness towards them. Although unlike her peers, she recognised them as fellow human beings worthy of basic courtesies and respect, it frustrated me that she stopped wildly short of extending any real or solid and meaningful and transformative acts of kindness.
And I think that’s part of what makes this such a great book to read, the character development.
Miss Skeeter starts off as the best of a bad lot (ie her neighbouring white counterparts who all have black maids too in their homes) but she is still fairly selfish and shallow and self-absorbed in the beginning nevertheless.
As the story progresses however, we see her character gradually develop and mature and gain more insight and perspective into the plight of those more unfortunate around her. We see her take more risks, for the right reasons instead of just self-serving needs and ultimately we see her champion the right cause for the right reasons. She finally truly sees, understands and appreciates the black maids she writes of and begins to genuinely care for them as a true friend would. Irrespective of colour or social boundaries. I love that. Redemption!
Aibileen and Minny also grow meaningfully as their characters develop and there is much to celebrate as they defeat their own inner and real demons as the novel progresses to a close.
Katheryn Stockett does not offer the same grace to the villains in the book, Miss Hilly and Miss Elizabeth. They remain firmly entrenched in their own views and are unsaveable it seems. I guess this reflects real life. Even when racial segregation was outlawed, and even today, there are still some of us unable to break free of the shackles of such shameful prejudice. I imagine it will be a few generations more before colour stops being such a prevalent reasoning for the mistreatment of others who are in some way different to us.
I really enjoyed the way we are told the story through the eyes of three different women, each relaying a chapter of their own in first person before handing the baton over to the next protagonist. I loved the cliff-hangers at the end of almost every chapter and I enjoyed the initial overlap in story telling between our three different heroines in the first half of the book.
I think Katheryn Stocket is such a brilliant storyteller. The voices of Aibileen and Minny seemed authentic to me and I was shocked when I discovered the author was white! I fully slid into each character as we progressed from chapter to chapter. And I couldn’t help feeling (happily) frustrated when the chapter ended and I had to wait and read about another character and her dilemmas before I could return to resolve the mystery of the prior character! I can see in retrospect just how cleverly the book has been written!
In fact this was one of those book where I barely noticed myself admiring the writing at the time of reading, because I was so fully engaged and absorbed in the story. Katheryn Stockett is such a master story-teller, she pulled me right in and kept me there, flowing from one character to the next, scared at some moments, exhilarated at others, hurt and frustrated in turn and increasingly nervous and anxious and excited as the plot advanced and we began to draw to a close.
I would say the suspense was excellent and she took me through the full range of emotions with each character in turn for very different reasons in each case. I think there were very few plotholes if any, (I have to confess Skeeters bag drove me nuts! And the preceeding toilets-on-the-front-lawn scene was a little too much for me!). I enjoyed every part of the story, except perhaps The Benefit. (I just kept wishing someone would give Miss Celia a coat or a shawl or something to afford the poor foolish soul some modesty. And I didn't love the Terrible Awful Thing....!!!!)
The relationship between Minny and Miss Celia was a particular favourite of mine too. I loved being in that kitchen with them for some reason! Those scenes had everything, a burgeoning friendship between two unlikely individuals, distrust, miscommunication, switched roles to teacher-student, lessons gone wrong, work interruptions, vulnerabilities, a growing loyalty and affection between the two, mutual life-saving incidents and eventual genuine mutual trust, love, respect and appreciation.
Overall I’ll give this book a happy 4 out of 5. If I could, I’d give it 4.5!
Although there’s so much I have omitted and so much more I could say about it, I’ll surmise by saying it made me feel good because of the warmth of the relationships and the incredible inner strength and resilience the female characters possessed and developed. I loved the multi-faceted plot and that things turned out mostly good in the end. And I valued being given plenty of opportunities to laugh (courtesy of Minny) amidst actually a very serious topic.
Perhaps most importantly, it gave me a chance to see what it must be like to live in another person’s skin. Thrice over.
I think Katheryn Stockett did a marvellous job of helping me remember that not only is mine not the only perspective, but that I know far less about other people and cultures and history than I realise.
There are things I will never understand or know and I’ll be the poorer for it unless I have the wisdom and compassion to leave my own views and prejudices behind and step into another person’s world – particularly one which is nothing like my own.