Mamanista! » Books, Books (Fiction) » “The Help” Book Review

“The Help” Book Review

Some books are so good that I’ll stay awake all night to finish reading them. The Help is one of those books. It also happens to be one of the best fiction books I’ve read about race relations and the birth of the civil rights movement.

Set in rural Mississippi during the 1960s, the book mentions Martin Luther King Jr.’s march, the death of Medgar Evers, the Freedom Riders, the integration of the University of Mississippi by James Meredith, the sit-ins at lunch counters, Rosa Parks and other major events only in passing.

Instead, The Help focuses on the daily lives of three women- Aibileen (an African American maid raising her seventeenth white child), Minny (Aibileen’s best friend who has lost many jobs for “sassing” her white employers) and Skeeter (a recent college graduate torn between her old friends in the Junior League and her desire to be a journalist). 

I’ve read numerous books on the Civil Rights Movement, but The Help is to be praised for the way it personalizes the Jim Crow Laws and the culture of the time. African American nannies/maids – most notably Mammy in Gone With the Wind – have played a major role in Southern Literature. But The Help tells how those maids might have felt about their situation.

The hypocrisy of white women who trust maids to take care of their children- arguably the most precious thing in their lives- while insisting that the maids use a separate toilet in the garage or backyard because they fear catching “colored diseases” is exposed.  For their part, the maids are torn between their love for the children they care for and their recognition that the children they love will turn out just like their parents. Aibileen has raised seventeen white children since she switches jobs when the children get older and lose their color blindness. 

Despite the injustice it exposes, The Help is a hopeful rather than an angry novel. As aspiring-journalist Skeeter searches for Constantine, the maid who raised her, she forms a friendship with Aibileen and Minny that could change their town forever.  As a novel and as a work of social history, The Help deserves praise.

Hat tip: MomCentral for sending an advance copy of The Help.  

Written by

Debbie Bookstaber started Mamanista in 2007 with her friend Candace Lindemann. Debbie and Candace also are the co-founders of Bloganthropy.org, which empowers bloggers to become philanthropic leaders in their communities. Through their annual awards, Bloganthropy.org recognizes bloggers who effectively use social media for social good. Debbie lives in the Philadelphia suburbs with her husband and two young sons. She's an active volunteer in her community and a working mom. Debbie is a partner at Element Associates and the Social Media Director at Child's Play Communications. You can follow Debbie on Twitter @buzzmommy or meet her at a future blogging or tech conference, where she frequently speaks about social good efforts, SEO or affiliate marketing.

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15 Responses to "“The Help” Book Review"

  1. Alexia says:

    Sounds like a good book! I just put it on hold at my library – thanks!

  2. katia says:

    This book is spot on. I work as an housekeeper and had a house where the white female was as depicted in the book. Yesterday she came out of her bedroom in tears no make up visibly shaken, and very angry with the people in the books actions toward their ” Help.” And it hi her she was one of those people too.

    She really was having an ah ha moment of guilt about herself.She was forced to look at her behavior and didn’t like what she has seen, a bigot!

    For this I thank You, I’m in college at night and can’t wait to graduate and leave this field of work.

  3. I cannot wait to read simple things more of this wonderful topic. So much than it Ive never even acknowledged. You sure did put a fresh twist on something that Ive heard a lot of about. I dont believe Ive actually read most things does this subject of the same quality justice as you simply did.

  4. […] “Some books are so good that I’ll stay awake all night to finish reading them. The Help is one of those books. It also happens to be one of the best fiction books I’ve read about race relations and the birth of the civil rights movement” – Mamanista! Blog […]

  5. […] In February of 2009, I wrote a praise-filled book review on Kathryn Stockett’s The Help. You can read it here. […]

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