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The Help (2009)

by Kathryn Stockett

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
25,215140385 (4.37)1 / 1160
In Jackson, Mississippi, in 1962, there are lines that are not crossed. With the civil rights movement exploding all around them, three women start a movement of their own, forever changing a town and the way women--black and white, mothers and daughters--view one another.
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    The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd (Alliebadger, Alie, Neale, readysetgo)
    Neale: Both deal with racial issues and are slow moving but enjoyable
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    The Color Purple by Alice Walker (Anonymous user)
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    Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg (laytonwoman3rd)
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    paulkid: Race relations on different continents, told from multiple female perspectives.
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  9. 62
    The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (krazy4katz)
    krazy4katz: Both works are written from the perspective of a white female who has to gain the trust of her subjects -- African Americans who have suffered before and during the civil rights era -- to tell their story. In the end, they become friends and everyone contributes to the small amount of progress being made.… (more)
  10. 41
    Mudbound by Hillary Jordan (teelgee, BookshelfMonstrosity, momofthreewi)
  11. 30
    Substitute Me by Lori Tharps (DDay)
    DDay: This recommendation might be a little out there, but this book is about a white couple in NYC who hire a young black woman to be their nanny. It's modern look at the issue of race and the role of domestic workers in a family. Sort of a chance to see how things have changed since the 60s and what issues are still present.… (more)
  12. 30
    Jubilee by Margaret Walker (MrsPeachum)
  13. 30
    Velva Jean Learns to Drive by Jennifer Niven (conceptDawg)
  14. 20
    Cold Rock River by J.L. Miles (bookwormteri)
    bookwormteri: Both deal with the disparity between the races in the 60s. The Help focuses more on the present (the 60's) while Cold Rock River is set in a more rural, less gentrified area with excerpts from a journal of a slave.
  15. 10
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    dawnlovesbooks: same themes of southern racism
  18. 21
    The Dry Grass of August by Anna Jean Mayhew (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: The Help is a moving novel about a young white woman who discovers the effects of racism on black women and their families in mid-1960s Mississippi; The Dry Grass of August portrays similar discoveries for a white teenage girl in the mid-1950s.… (more)
  19. 54
    The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (krizia_lazaro)
  20. 10
    Jenniemae & James: A Memoir in Black and White by Brooke Newman (DetailMuse)
    DetailMuse: Black domestics in white households in civil rights-era USA.

(see all 34 recommendations)

1960s (66)
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English (1,339)  Dutch (26)  Spanish (12)  French (6)  Catalan (4)  Finnish (3)  German (3)  Swedish (2)  Portuguese (Portugal) (2)  Estonian (1)  Danish (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (1,400)
Showing 1-5 of 1339 (next | show all)
The Help tells the tale of a time years ago of the separation between the color of people’s skins through the eyes of maids and a brave wanna be writer. The book shows how hard of times that era was and how powerful an alpha female (whom is present in every part of society) is even after being brought done. Full of emotions and laughs, The Help presents a way to fully treat people as you never know how it may come back to you and sometimes courage is all that you need. ( )
  Preston.Kringle | Jul 4, 2020 |
Told from three POV's, this book focuses on two black maids living in Mississippi during the 1960s and a young white woman.

The first POV is an older black woman named Aibileen who is still mourning the son she lost a few years back. Aibileen is excellent with young children, but finds herself moving on quicker after she finds herself getting attached to her young charges.

The second POV is by a younger black maid named Minnie. Minnie is a great cook, but finds it hard to hold onto a job because she always "backtalks" her bosses.

The third and final POV is by a young white woman named Skeeter. Skeeter is home from college and due to not being pretty enough or short enough can't seem to catch a beau to satisfy her family. After watching what is being done in her small town with regards to how white women treat "The Help" she decides she is going to write a book about these women and approaches Aibileen.

So this book would have been a five star read for me if only we had actually focused on The Help in this book and the fact that I am a little bit tired of the sassy fat black woman trope that was pushed on me as a reader while reading. It's super exhausting when this character always seems to show up in books like this, it drives me nuts. And honestly I am wondering if I am being a bit too generous with the stars or what. Because though I did enjoy it while reading it, I am realizing after the fact why I had problems with certain parts of the book as written.

I thought the character of Aibileen was perfect. Maybe because I saw the movie and I love all things Viola Davis, but as soon as Aibileen "spoke" she was in my head the whole way.

You understand Aibileen's reluctance to even become involved with Skeeter's crusade at first. During that time in the U.S. you could be killed by the KKK for even running around talking about how blacks and whites should be equal. So it made sense to me why she and the other 'help' were scared to even get involved with it at all. I definitely liked Aibileen's turning point after dealing with Miss Hilly Holbrook (the most cartoon villain character ever) and having Aibileen's boss push for a separate toilet that Aibileen had to use.

Minnie's character I loved a lot. I honestly did not need to have chapter headers with her or Aibileen's name up front because these two women sound nothing a lot. While Aibileen is cautious and smart enough to not do anything to draw attention to herself. Minnie cannot help being who she is and talking back to people even though she knows that can get her fired or killed.

And that is the one part that did not ring true for Minnie's character. She has several kids in the book and a husband that abuses her. I did not see how this woman who definitely needed a job would ever as she said in her own words "backtalk" someone she worked for. When she's pushed to the breaking point by Miss Hilly she does something that she regrets, but we as readers don't find out about it til almost the very end of the book.

The character of Skeeter I am going to say again was super unnecessary. I wish she had been a secondary character that characters like Aibileen and Minnie met and yes she could have been the person to pull all of the stories together. I just wish we had focused more on 'The Help' and think that if Kathryn Stockett had focused on the character of Yule Mae (she worked for Miss Hilly) then that would have given us an interesting perspective of that character (Hilly). I say that because at the end Miss Hilly was like a cartoon villain and was just a joke. She got her just desserts in the book, but I definitely like how the movie version had her getting sent off by Skeeter's mother.

And that is why I had some trouble with the points of views. We get to see how Aibileen feels about her employer Elizabeth Leefolt, how Minnie liked and respected Mrs. Walters and how she came to care (in her way) for her new boss, Celia Foote.

We don't get a chance to see how Skeeter comes to view anyone really. I mean she realizes that her love interest in the book was not worth her time, and she finds out about what occurred with her family's former maid. However, none of these things really seemed to change Skeeter. I felt she was the same person throughout the book.

I am going to say that Kathryn Stockett's dialect for Aibileen and Minnie did not take me out of the book at all. That is because I just got done reading Gone With the Wind and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. If you want to pull your hair out about writing in the vernacular and stereotypes for black speakers look no further after you read those two little gems. I will say though even without those books to compare to I still would not have had a problem with that though. I think because Aibileen and Minnie talk how my grandparents generations "speaks'. So for me it was not jarring to read them speaking like this at all. I would have had more of a problem if everyone was speaking picture perfect English. Not every black person spoke like Dr. Martin Luther King back then, and even today you do not have every person who is black that sounds like each other.

I think the flow was great though I will say that I did find myself less interested in all of Skeeter's passages. I wanted to focus on Aibileen and Minnie.

The setting of Jackson makes sense for this book since there was a lot going on historically at that point in time. You had the murder of Medgar Evers that happened in Jackson, you had Dr. King's march on Washington, D.C. and his "I Have A Dream" speech. Kathryn Stockett includes this in this book, however I don't think she manages to show the weight these and other events had on the black community as a whole.

And sometimes she says things and I don't think she gets how she comes across such as when she mentions though all of the maids can now sit wherever, they all sit on the back of the bus because they like the companionship of talking. I cringed. It was a totally tone deaf moment. I won't bore you all with this (well too much) but bus segregation was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1956. And that boycott caused a lot of arrests, beatings, and international media attention. So no, I don't see how only a couple of years after all of that you would have blacks saying well hey let's sit in the back, you know, for companionship.

The ending fell a bit flat for me too (wow I am realizing this is really a 3.5 star book) and I felt that there was no real ending. I think we are supposed to be cheered by one character breaking free from Jackson. I myself just kind of rolled my eyes.

So that said I found this to honestly be a three and a half star book. I really did enjoy it, but I am realizing that there are a lot more issues that I initially noticed. I blame it on The Readathon (not in a bad way) it just happens when you start one book after another. You don't give yourself time to digest the book. ( )
  ObsidianBlue | Jul 1, 2020 |
Better than the movie. ( )
  Tip44 | Jun 30, 2020 |
Before I dive into all the problematic aspects of this novel, I just want to point out I've come to love Aibileen and Minny and if it weren't for them and their hilarious comments, I'd have never finished this book. The only reason I gave this two stars instead of one is because of them.

I'm sure all of these points have been mentioned before, but here's what I find problematic and quite frankly, disturbing, about this novel:
1. A white woman writing from the perspective of a black woman. That in itself disturbs me, but considering the setting, it's even more problematic. As Stockett acknowledges herself, a white woman will never know what it's like to be a black woman. It makes it even worse that she decided to go through with this idea despite knowing it's not her place to write from a black person's perspective.
2. A white woman writing in AAVE/early Southern U.S. dialect. Kind of goes with the first one, but it felt like AAVE wasn't respected as a dialect by Stockett by writing in a dialect she doesn't personally speak. I don't speak AAVE myself, as I'm not American nor Black, and I have no idea if she used it correctly. Again, I don't think it was her place to write in a dialect that black people get a lot of backlash for from white people- especially in professional settings. Also, was using the n-word that often really necessary?
3. This may be the one that bothers me the most: Miss Skeeter being the white saviour. Sure, her naivety gets pointed out, but she ends up being applauded by the black community for essentially profiting off the stories they provided her, while the maids continue to live in fear. True, the book probably wouldn't have been published if it weren't for Miss Skeeter, but it still bothered me.

I don't think the writing was all that bad, nor do I think everything about this book was terrible, but the positive aspects don't make up for the inherent problems I personally have with The Help . ( )
  frtyfour | Jun 16, 2020 |
25
  kristi_test_02 | Jun 16, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 1339 (next | show all)
This is fun stuff, well-written and often applause-worthy. My only problem with The Help is that, in the end, it’s not really about the help.
 
I finished The Help in one sitting and enjoyed it very, very much. It’s wise, literate, and ultimately deeply moving, a careful, heartbreaking novel of race and family that digs a lot deeper than most novels on such subjects do.
 
As black-white race relations go, this could be one of the most important pieces of fiction since To Kill a Mockingbird... If you read only one book this summer, let this be it.
 
“Mississippi is like my mother,” [Stockett] writes in an afterword to “The Help.” And you will see, after your wrestling match with this problematic but ultimately winning novel, that when it comes to the love-hate familial bond between Ms. Stockett and her subject matter, she’s telling the truth.
 
Her pitch-perfect depiction of a country's gradual path toward integration will pull readers into a compelling story that doubles as a portrait of a country struggling with racial issues.
 

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kathryn Stockettprimary authorall editionscalculated
Campbell, CassandraNarratormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lamia, JennaNarratormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Spencer, OctaviaNarratormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Turpin, BahniNarratormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Beck, LauraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Carlsen, MonicaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Colombo, AdrianaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Frezza Pavese, PaolaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Girard, PierreTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gram, CathrinIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ingrid VollanIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Svendsen, Birgitte VictoriaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Van Bronswijk, InekeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
To Grandaddy Stockett, the best storyteller of all
First words
Mae Mobley was born on a early Sunday morning in August, 1960.
Quotations
De bus jakkert door State Street. We steken de Woodrow Wilson Bridge over en ik klem m'n kaken zo stijf op mekaar dat m'n tanden zowat breken. Ik voel dat bittere zaadje groeien in m'n binnenste, 't zaadje dat is geplant toen Treelore dood ging. Ik wil 't liefst zo hard gillen dat Baby Girl me kan horen dat smerig geen kleur is, dat ziekte niet de zwarte kant van de stad is. Ik wil voorkomen dat 't moment komt- en 't komt in 't leven van elk blank kind- dat ze begint te denken dat zwarten slechter zijn als blanken.
I always thought insanity would be a dark, bitter feeling, but it is drenching and delicious if you really roll around in it.
My face goes hot, my tongue twitchy.  I don't know what to say to her.  All I know is, I ain't saying it.  And I know she ain't saying what she want a say either and it's a strange thing happening here cause nobody saying nothing and we still managing to have us a conversation.
"Can't afford no air-conditioning. Them things eat currant like a boll weevil on cotton."
Constantine wrote to me on parchment paper that folded into an envelope.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
THE LIFE STORIES OF AFRICAN AMERICAN MAIDS LIVING IN ALABAMA BEFORE AND DURING THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT.
Haiku summary
Black women raise kids/of white women who make them/use separate toilets (LC Brooks)

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0241950805, 0241956536

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