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The Help Paperback – June 28, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Four peerless actors render an array of sharply defined black and white characters in the nascent years of the civil rights movement. They each handle a variety of Southern accents with aplomb and draw out the daily humiliation and pain the maids are subject to, as well as their abiding affection for their white charges. The actors handle the narration and dialogue so well that no character is ever stereotyped, the humor is always delightful, and the listener is led through the multilayered stories of maids and mistresses. The novel is a superb intertwining of personal and political history in Jackson, Miss., in the early 1960s, but this reading gives it a deeper and fuller power. A Putnam hardcover (Reviews, Dec. 1). (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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 alternate Paperback edition.
Top customer reviews
Aibileen Clark is a black maid. She’s a God loving, church going woman. Most of the time she keeps to herself and stays out of the limelight. She is currently working for Mrs. Elizabeth Leefolt, one of Skeeter’s best friends. Mrs. Leefolt isn’t the type of person that should be having children. They are more of a nuisance than a joy to her. And, Aibileen is doing her best to raise Elizabeth’s children to love themselves and be kind to others.
Minny Jackson is a black maid in the household of another of Skeeter’s friends, Mrs. Hilly Holbrook. Minny has a sassy mouth and has a hard time keeping a job. She needs the money with five children and a husband working two jobs. Hilly is a mean, spiteful woman who is the head of the Junior League of Jackson, Mississippi. She treats Minny as though she is a disease.
Skeeter finds herself at odds with Hilly and the idea of outdoor bathrooms for the colored help. The inhumane treatment that she witnesses sparks an idea to write the stories of the maids as told by the maids. Aibileen is the only one to agree at first. As things deteriorate in the South with the federal government pushing for desegregation, her editor urges her to get the book to her as soon as possible with at least a dozen stories.
Stockett’s first novel, The Help, is about the book itself being written. It is both funny and sad. The stories are about true love and friendship as well as hate and racism. There is a lot we all can learn from these stories. Social injustice to any group is unacceptable. These ladies worked long hours under almost slave-like conditions just to feed themselves and their families.
5 out of 5 stars.
I know there has been controversy over this book's subject matter, especially because it was written by a white woman. But only a white woman could have gotten access to the many homes to see what was happening. I think the protagonist saw the maids as individuals with hearts and souls. Women who loved their family, but often loved the family they worked for too.
This is a story that needed to be told. A story of struggle in a time in our history that we like to think is completely in the past. Sadly, we seem to learn daily that the past comes back to haunt us, often with a vengeance.
Stockett did an excellent job telling a story that is sympathetic to the maids. If the maids were alive today, I think they'd be proud of their depiction here!