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The Help by Kathryn Stockett
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The Help (original 2009; edition 2009)

by Kathryn Stockett

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
23,651138286 (4.38)1 / 1138
Member:devi
Title:The Help
Authors:Kathryn Stockett
Info:Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam (2009), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 464 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:2010, big read, fiction

Work details

The Help by Kathryn Stockett (2009)

  1. 684
    The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd (Alliebadger, Alie, Neale, readysetgo)
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    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)
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    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)
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  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
  17. 21
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    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)
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(see all 33 recommendations)

1960s (124)
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English (1,318)  Dutch (25)  Spanish (12)  French (7)  Catalan (4)  Finnish (3)  German (3)  Portuguese (Portugal) (2)  Swedish (2)  Estonian (1)  Danish (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (1,379)
Showing 1-5 of 1318 (next | show all)
Almost anyone could tell you what this book is about, probably without having read it or seen the movie. In a sentence: in 1962, a white writer (Skeeter) decides to record the true experience of being a black maid in Mississippi, and two black maids (Aibileen and Minny) reluctantly share their stories.

Before composing this review, I checked out reader responses from both white and black women who lived in the American South in the 1960's. Most of them testify to the accuracy of this novel's time/place aura (if not always specific details). In fact, among the reviews and comments I browsed, those who most strongly react against this book are those who didn't live through the time period. Since I was not alive at the time, either, I won't comment further on the book's historicity; my review is based on story and style.

The distinct point-of-view voices of Aibileen, Minny, and Skeeter usually ring true and never become excessive or fall on gimmicks. The slow-growing trust between Minny and her new employers Celia and Johnny is the highlight of the book. And the examination of the more subtle ways one person can devalue another is given multiple, human dimensions.

Though Minny was easily my favorite point-of-view character, I also grew to care about Aibileen, once her layers opened past stereotype to individual. Skeeter, however, stayed in type territory: the awkward, naive writer who wishes she was pretty, wishes her mother would accept her, and is progressively non-racist (for reasons unknown). Her mother reminded me of [b:Pride and Prejudice|1885|Pride and Prejudice|Jane Austen|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320399351s/1885.jpg|3060926]'s Mrs. Bennett with the constant nagging (Tame your hair! Find a husband! Stop being so tall!), but Ms. Stockett doesn't seem to intend comic satire.

Comparing this book to [b:To Kill A Mockingbird|2657|To Kill a Mockingbird|Harper Lee|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1361975680s/2657.jpg|3275794] is a literary stretch. The Help is an unusual mix of genres (serious lit vs. chick lit). I took Minny's plight seriously. Skeeter's, not so much. I rolled my eyes occasionally at the plot, but I also enjoyed the writing style and found myself emotionally invested in Celia's contradictions and insecurity and Minny's hopelessness and bitterness. 3.5 stars. ( )
  AmandaGStevens | Mar 2, 2019 |
I loved listening to this book! The voices were spot-on and mesmerizing. Each of the characters was engaging and their narratives gave a glimpse into the culture of the Southern states during the 60's. I assume I'd like the book as well if I'd read it, but this is one that is terrific as an audio book. Thanks, Jodi! ( )
  tkcs | Feb 23, 2019 |
I genuinely love this book. There's layers and layers to this story that touch upon so many different aspects of life, but it also attempts to have a difficult discussion about racism. The characters themselves are so varied - there are all sorts of different backgrounds, classes, education levels, marital status... these ladies are all over the place. So if you're looking at this book purely as sociology and fiction intertwined, I feel it has a lot of content.

But that's not what I love about it. I love how much I HATE Hilly Holbrook. I love how much I am rooting for Aibileen to get through to little Mae Mobly and that her lessons are remembered. I love the way Skeeter finds the confidence to ignore family and peer pressure and to choose her values over a man who likes her, but could never support her ideals. I love the bits and pieces of bravery woven into this story that make it beautiful. And, so sue me, I freaking LOVE Minny's pie. Also her relationship with Celia Foote and how between Minny and Footes, there are no lines. It's the sort of relationship that sort of gives you hope for the rest of the book characters - these are not all bigots and racists. There are some people who see everyone as just that: people.

There are conversations around Stockett's choice to write two black characters when she is white, and arguments accusing her of making Skeeter a white savior character. I actually think that Stockett was pretty tasteful, but I'm not here to have an argument about racism in books - I do touch a little bit about my thoughts regarding the white savior aspect in my full review on my blog, but if you are looking for commentary about Minny and Aibileen's voices and other racial discussion - I highly recommend seeking out #OwnVoices reviewers who can offer more fair judgment on these aspects. I personally wasn't uncomfortable with these voices (and I've called out books for being racist before) but there are defintely some folks who are and I think their voices matter.

At the end of the day, I feel 100% confident in recommending this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, stories about strong women, and honestly just a good fiction novel. ( )
  Morteana | Feb 7, 2019 |
This book was a compelling story thus forcing five stars. At my advanced age I am beginning to see how distorted thinking when indoctrinated early is so difficult to overcome. The author's few pages at the end drew everything together. Her defense of Mississippi shocked and baffled me but added so much depth to the story. Racism is so pervasive fifty years later! So many prevailing "mores" plague our society. We never seem to translate our ignorance and evil in one realm to others. Our egos make us hold learned beliefs, leaving untold horrors with which our successors must toil. The golden rule is destined to be a goal, perhaps shamelessly unattainable. The writing was pure. There was humor, passion and loving scenes (believable) evoking tears. The voicing was grating in spots but I understand why Ms. Stockett chose it. I barely remember the movie (as good) yet this book will rattle in me for the duration. ( )
  DonaldPowell | Feb 5, 2019 |
Absolutely loved this book! Poignant, heartfelt, amazing. ( )
  rmarcin | Jan 22, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 1318 (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 (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kathryn Stockettprimary authorall editionscalculated
Campbell, CassandraNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Carlsen, MonicaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Colombo, AdrianaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Frezza Pavese, PaolaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gram, CathrinIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ingrid VollanIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lamia, JennaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Spencer, OctaviaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Svendsen, Birgitte VictoriaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Turpin, BahniNarratorsecondary 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."
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
Passionnant drôle et émouvant , La couleur des sentiments a conquis l'Amériques avec ses personnages inoubliables .Une jeune bourgeoise blanche et deux bonnes noires . Personne ne croiraient à leur amitié; moins encore la toléraient . Pourtant , poussées par une sourde envie de changer les choses , malgré la peur , elles vont unir leurs destins , et en grand secret écrire une histoire bouleversante . 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)

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0399155341, Hardcover)

Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step.

Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter 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, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. 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.

In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women—mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends—view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don’t.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:05:15 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

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.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 13 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0241950805, 0241956536

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