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Showing 1-10 of 6,460 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 9,903 reviews
on September 2, 2017
Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan is a white socialite in the early 60s struggling to find a career in journalism while living in the deep South. All of her friends are married and having children. And, they all have black maids. Even Skeeter’s family has a black maid. Some folks treat their maids like family. Others treat them worse than the hired help that they are.

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.
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on September 15, 2017
I adored this book! All the characters were very realistic and I even liked the not-so-nice ones, at least in terms of making for a great story.
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!
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on June 28, 2017
I originally read the audio book edition of "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett and later read it on my Kindle for book club. The Help is most definitely on my short list for all time favorite books. I am not sure which was better the audio book or the Kindle read. This is the first novel by this author and I do not know how she will ever top herself. The book is about the relationship between White women living in the deep South in the early 1960's and their Negro domestic help. It shows a time, not all that long ago, when there was no such thing as political correctness, when Whites, especially in the South, had no problems showing their Negro help who was boss. At that time in Jackson, Mississippi, a Black woman was allowed in a White grocery store only if she was wearing her white maid's uniform. The grocery stores in the Negro section of town were not well lit, not too clean and not very well stocked. For a maid to speak out of turn was reason enough for immediate firing, if not putting herself and her family in physical danger. To characterize the racial condition of the American South in 1963 as American Apartheid, would not be an exaggeration. But, this is only the backdrop of the story. The real story is about the relationship that develops between one White woman, Skeeter and the Black maids, Abilene and Minny, she eventually writes a book about. Skeeter recently graduated from college with a degree in Journalism, which was all well and good, except all anyone, especially, in this case, Skeeter's mother, really expected from women who attended college in that time was to get their MRS.degree; anything less was all but useless. Skeeter, was an exception to the rule. She was determined to be a writer and unlike her close friends, with whom she played bridge on a weekly basis and was a member of the local women's organizations, Skeeter had a sense that all was not well regarding race relations in the South. In her attempts to find something worthwhile to write about, she decides on exploring what it is like for the "colored maids" to work for the white women of Jackson, Mississippi, from the maid's point of view. And so begins the relationship that develops between Skeeter and Abilene and Minny, who work for her friends. The author, who is White, takes on the task of giving voices to the Negro maids who are interviewed for her book and those voices are believable and pitch perfect. This was the first book I have read in many years, perhaps decades, in which I felt a kinship with these main characters to the extent that I already miss them, as if they had been guests staying at my home and have now left, leaving me with a sad void. I hope that Kathryn Stockett sees fit to write a sequel to"The Help", so that her readers can know what happens to her characters in the years to come. If you are an avid reader or if you only read a few books a year, you will want to read "The Help".
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on September 18, 2017
OK, so I know I am just about the last person on the planet to read this book, but I picked it up at my mom-in-law's house and got completely hooked.
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.
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on September 15, 2017
I made the mistake of watching the movie first. This book is far better than the movie. It's true that you can say that of any book/movie combo. But when it comes to internal narration and the unseen a book will always have the superior place. Yes a movie gives great visuals but your mind is far better at imagining space ships or dinosaurs. When it comes to a non-action based, non-graphics based book, you might as well pretend the movie doesn't exist, as just as it is in this case, the movie doesn't hold a candle to the book.
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on September 9, 2017
I just finished doing something I rarely ever do...re reading a book. The Help was the first book I read on my new Kindle years ago. I was as moved and entertained by it this time as I was on the first encounter. It does a remarkable job of affirming the goodness that lives in so many human hearts. The cast of characters that inhabit its pages evoke a range of emotions that enlarged the scope of my world. I cared about what was happening to Skeeter, Abilene, Minny, and even a few others who did not deserve my concern. Thanks for the pleasure of a return visit that left me feeling enriched!
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on August 31, 2012
Summer reading has always been my least favorite part of summer vacation. Ever since I can remember, we have been assigned books to read over the summer. This year, we had a choice between four books for English and I chose The Help by: Kathryn Stockett. Stockett really brought the stories to life by her use of multiple perspectives and vivid vocabulary. I enjoyed this book because of the way it taught about racism and Skeeter's strong personality.

Reading the fictitious, yet very real stories of the Southern help creates an illustration of how prevalent racism really was. The white ladies of Jackson were convinced to pass "a bill that requires every white home to have a separate bathroom for the colored help." We always hear about the classic stories of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr., but these stories are more real and personal. Along with racism, The Help displays how segregated the South was in the 1960s. It was a true risk for Skeeter to work on a book with the African American help; risking her career and reputation, as well as their careers and very possibly, their lives.

One of the main characters and narrators of the book, Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan has a very strong-willed, independent personality. She chose to write about what she was interested in, not necessarily what was socially acceptable. "I get to work writing down every goddamn thing that bothers me in life." Skeeter may face some obstacles along the way, but you will have to read on to find out if she prevails or not.
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on October 27, 2011
Aibileen is a black maid in 1962 Jackson, Mississippi, who's always taken orders quietly, but lately she's unable to hold her bitterness back. Her friend Minny has never held her tongue but now must somehow keep secrets about her employer that leave her speechless. White socialite Skeeter just graduated college. She's full of ambition, but without a husband, she's considered a failure. Together, these seemingly different women join together to write a tell-all book about work as a black maid in the South, that could forever alter their destinies and the life of a small town...

The Help written by Kathryn Stockett is wonderfully and refreshingly told through the eyes of the three main characters: Abileen, Minny, and Miss Skeeter. Each character reveals her thoughts, feelings, and her work in her own dialect and gives the reader a authentic feel for life in the south during the 1960's when high society ladies still had black maids. These ladies, whether the "miss..." or the maid, spring to life scene after scene drawing out my laughter, my empathy or a new awareness of life in the south. The racism between blacks and whites, rich and poor vividly and candidly shows the destruction that even subtle racism brings. Abileen was my favorite character with her tenderness toward the children she attended, the way she wrote her prayers in her notebook, and how through her quiet kindness, wisdom, and sense of fairness she rallied the other maids to make a difference. Minny, outspoken and feisty, and the one who received the brunt of her husband's brutality gives hope to anyone in such a situation. At times I winced at her brashness and at other times I felt deep empathy for her. Miss Skeeter had a sense of fairness which motivated her to try to right the many wrongs in her community held in the bondage of racism and injustice. This is one of the best books I have read and highly recommend it.

Review by: Rita Kroon, author of "Letters from the Past" and "Praying the Scriptures."Letters from the Past Praying the Scriptures
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VINE VOICEon March 31, 2011
"The Help" author Kathryn Stockett employs clean lines in rendering the jagged ones impacting the lives of her characters.

This book is a mainstay on the bestseller lists and blessed with a nutshell profile that boils down to "black maids in old Mississippi and the women who employ them."

And the line between these two classes of women is established primarily by the colors of their skin, although in the end, it turns out be more jagged and broken than initially proposed.

Dominant employers on the surface, beneath it the southern belles typify a disappearing breed invariably affected by their reliance on the ladies from across the tracks to raise their children and smooth over their glaring imperfections.

And though at times the good girls in this story can seem too good and the bad ones excessively evil, Stockett treats us to shades of gray and cracks in the facades that allow lovely ambiguities to blossom.

The color line is not the only one rendered here. Class rises its ugly head in the form of a lesser-pedigreed country girl from Sugar Ditch who the powerful Miss Hilly and her minions reject for lack of polish and poise.

The grayest of the gray is embodied by Ms. Skeeter, whose failure to snare a man during her undergraduate turn at Ole Miss thrusts her into the netherworld of the working woman in a time and place where women didn't work much.

The slowly growing distance between she and her Ladies League friends provides space for a relationship between she and one of her friend's maids, Aibeleen, to develop.

The lines between these two women of markedly different experiences are the lines they scribble on the page. They are lines of truth in a story very much about the written word and its potential to propel social change.

Ms. Stockett's story is tightly wound with a strong narrative spine hardly interrupted by extended introspection or flights of poetic fancy - the aforementioned clean lines - so we must be wary of telling too much and spoiling the whole.

It's okay to say Aibeleen is only the first of the maids who decide to tell fledgling scribe Skeeter her story. And it's okay to reveal that this odd and dangerous literary adventure is launched in the searing crucible of the early '60s civil rights movement.

Banking on the slimmest of promises from a New York publishing editor, the white girl must mix with the black girls. Some of the more important ones have secrets we are informed of, but lack specific details about until the book's final stanzas.

Whether Skeeter's book gets published, whether the white ladies are abused or elevated by their maids, and if or how they respond will not be revealed here.

It is worth most readers' time to take the plunge and find the answers themselves.
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on October 28, 2011
This book crossed so many barriers, it made you laugh and cry and think and go back and look up some history. I don't usually like first Peron narritives, as I was thinking that I was reading sentence number and never thought it again.
I was so deep into this book my coworkers teased my about my southern way of speaking. Ms. Sockett crafted a time and place so vivid you turely felt you were back in Jackson, Mississippi in the 1960's wanting things to change but being so used to the status quo that you truly couldn't see any change possible. Then she placed a cast characters so strongly detailed that you thought you would meet them on the street. You wither hated or loved them, there was no way to feel just indifference toward them, and there were no excess pop in characters that did not push the story along in the correct direction.
Ms. Sockett used words as they would speak them in that area of the country. Many writers break up word, or drop off letters to try get the southern speech patterns. Ms. Socket wrote the words a the ladies would have used, and it took me back to my grandma's kitchen when I was younger. I could hear the rhythm and tone of the voices, the saddness or anger or pain, even the tiredness of the characters. For me that was the greatest accomplishment of this book.
I truly will be looking forward to more books from this break out author, I think she just went on my comfort author's list. Vivid, emotion, well researched and a delightful read
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