- Paperback: 544 pages
- Publisher: Berkley; Reprint edition (April 5, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0425232204
- ISBN-13: 978-0425232200
- Product Dimensions: 5 x 1.2 x 8.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (9,770 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,840 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Help Paperback – April 5, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. What perfect timing for this optimistic, uplifting debut novel (and maiden publication of Amy Einhorn's new imprint) set during the nascent civil rights movement in Jackson, Miss., where black women were trusted to raise white children but not to polish the household silver. Eugenia Skeeter Phelan is just home from college in 1962, and, anxious to become a writer, is advised to hone her chops by writing about what disturbs you. The budding social activist begins to collect the stories of the black women on whom the country club sets relies and mistrusts enlisting the help of Aibileen, a maid who's raised 17 children, and Aibileen's best friend Minny, who's found herself unemployed more than a few times after mouthing off to her white employers. The book Skeeter puts together based on their stories is scathing and shocking, bringing pride and hope to the black community, while giving Skeeter the courage to break down her personal boundaries and pursue her dreams. Assured and layered, full of heart and history, this one has bestseller written all over it. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Bookmarks Magazine
In writing about such a troubled time in American history, Southern-born Stockett takes a big risk, one that paid off enormously. Critics praised Stockett's skillful depiction of the ironies and hypocrisies that defined an era, without resorting to depressing or controversial clich√©s. Rather, Stockett focuses on the fascinating and complex relationships between vastly different members of a household. Additionally, reviewers loved (and loathed) Stockett's three-dimensional characters—and cheered and hissed their favorites to the end. Several critics questioned Stockett's decision to use a heavy dialect solely for the black characters. Overall, however, The Help is a compassionate, original story, as well as an excellent choice for book groups. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The story takes place in Jackson, Mississippi, in the early 1960s. It is a story about the lives of black maids and the white women who employ them. It is also a story filled with hope, about (3) remarkable women set in difficult times. The voices are perfect pitch and even though the story deals with a serious topic, there is much humor for the reader to enjoy, and lessons to be learned by all.
We meet Eugenia Phelan (AKA ...Skeeter) who just graduated from Ole Miss College. Skeeter is back home living with her parents and she is bored with her friends. Her dream is to become a writer, and to move to New York City, but for now she is stuck in Jackson writing for the Junior League's Newsletter. Her mother, however, has other dreams for Skeeter: to find her a rich husband from a good Southern family. Skeeter is tall, a bit socially awkward, but she is very sensitive. Realizing how badly the black maids "The Help" are being treated by their white employers, she comes up with an idea to interview and write about the black maids in Jackson, and their relationships with their white employers. This is a dangerous project that must be kept secret, but one that has the potential of changing the lives of so many people. To Skeeter it is worth the risk, and it just may be her ticket out of Jackson and off to New York City if she succeeds. Abilene and Minny are the focus of the interviews although many more maids agree to participate.
Abilene is a 50 something black maid. She has endured many hardships including the death of her son in a tragic accident. Despite this she remains kind, sweet and dedicated to raising the children of her employers. Although she endures much discrimination, she tries not to judge people, and to remain loyal and kind to her employer, their family and their friends.
Minny is another black maid who has had many jobs. She is angry and bitter and she finds it hard to keep quiet about some of the discrimination she has seen. Minny cannot seem to follow her mother's advice: (7) rules which she preached to her, and that can pretty much can be summed up by saying "keep your mouth shut when it comes to white folks business".
I don't want to say too much more, but to say that this is one of those books that will make you sad when you have turned the final page. The characters and story will live on in your memory long after you've finished this book. I found myself putting sticky notes throughout so I could reread certain parts.
I found it interesting that this story in part was inspired by the author's own life growing up in Mississippi. Her family had a black maid named Demetrie. The maid died when the author was 16, and she never got to ask her how she felt about being black and working for a white family in Mississippi.
This book is highly recommended.
The subject matter is the book's friend and its enemy. It is topical and presented in an accessible way, and obviously helped move the book sales. But the author stays on the safe side of Political Correctness which takes away some of the bite this book might have had. The book's subject matter is about how a group of black housemaids in the 60's in Jackson, Mississippi get together to write an anonymous book that exposes the treatment they undergo at the hands of their white employers. This is all thought up and facilitated by a young, privileged white woman who goes by the nickname Skeeter. Almost without exception, the black maids are all clever and extremely saintly people. The white women characters are more shallow and stupid as a whole. Men, both black and white, are pretty marginalized and are definitely secondary characters in this book and their role in this part of history is not brought to the forefront. The racism described in the book is a lite version, which matches the tone of the book but can seem pandering to the book's audience and like it is avoiding more difficult aspects of the topic. Stockett herself is a white southern woman, who grew up in a house with black help, and it is understandable that she treats the subject with delicacy. However, in trying to portray sympathy to the maids' cause, she has unintentionally de-humanized her characters a bit by making them too good to be true.
Other nitpicks are that some of the aspects of the book are unevenly emphasized and the flow of the book is sometimes choppy. All in all, an enjoyable read but could use some more depth and development.