Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Help

I had to blog about this, because I loved it! The book was published in 2009, but is now gaining huge popularity. In fact, the movie is coming out in a few weeks. Kathryn Stockett wrote the book, and she based it off her childhood nurse and what she imagines her life was like. The author grew up in Jackson, Mississippi and she writes of the times. I want to briefly introduce the main characters, but I will leave their stories mostly out- you will have to read the book to find out the rest.

It is the 1960's, a time that is harsh on the black people, and the lines are drawn and the rules are written. The black people can't live on the same side of town as the white people, they can't shop at the same grocery store unless wearing their white uniform, they can't shop at the same bookstores or libraries...if any of these lines are crossed, violence breaks out. There was a black boy that was beaten badly for using a white bathroom, and he ended up blind. They white and black kids also went to different schools; because of Rosa Parks, they could both ride the same bus. The bus drives would take the white people closer to their destinations though. The book is full of harsh racism and prejudice, sad violence against the black people. One black boy is shot in the back by a white man, and the crime is just let go basically. During this time, Martin Luther gives his speech "I have a dream..." President Kennedy is also assassinated, and the people are more nervous.

Aibileen is a black maid, raising her seventeenth white child. She does her job well and quietly, and loves those children as if they are her own. She had a son that died while working at a factory, and didn't get the care he needed because the white hospital wouldn't treat him. She gets to know the white ladies of the town, when they come to play bridge or discuss their projects.

Minny is married with 5 children, and is also a black maid. She is feisty and can't hold her tongue, and has gone through many jobs. Her husband Leroy beats her often, but she stays with him. She gets a job with a newcomer to town, that leaves her speechless. She is unlike anyone she has worked for before.

Miss Skeeter is a white socialite who lives on a farm with her parents, having returned from college. She has not gotten married, and her mother constantly complains about her appearance. She is very tall, skinny, with big frizzy hair that won't be tamed. She has a big ambition to write or become a journalist, and comes in contact with a big editor in New York. She agrees to read some of her stuff; she also works part time at the Newspaper writing a column on housekeeping. Which is ironic, because she knows nothing about it. This is how she meets Aibileen and starts to ask her advice on her column.

Hilly is the head of The Starving Children in Africa program and her husband runs for office. They have 2 children, and she is very racist. Minny worked for her and her mother, but she blackmailed her and refused to pay her. Hilly is the big popular socialite, but one of the rudest to the black people. She starts asking everyone to build a separate bathroom for their maids, so their contagions won't be spread.

Miss Leefolt is another white socialite, and Aibileen works for her. She has 2 children, but pretty much ignores them and just worries about her gatherings and parties. They are not as well off as the others, but she pretends they are. She is not as racist, but turns her head the other way. She also has a bathroom built in the garage that her maid has to use, instead of the ones in the house.

Somehow Miss Skeeter, Aibileen and Minny get together and start working on a book together. They work on a tell-all book that describes each maid's experience, what it's like to be a black maid in the white homes of the South. The risks are big, especially as they hear about more violence spreading. They have to meet in secret and hide their work. Miss Skeeter had a nurse named Constantine, who suddenly disappeared while she was at college. As she strives to figure out what happened to her, she becomes so involved in writing the book that she loses all of her white friends. Read this book as you follow her passion of writing, of telling the truth, and whether or not it is successful. This book is wonderful as it breaks the barriers, and shows us what it was really like. I highly recommend this book if you haven't already read it. The black women are charming and entertaining to read, and Miss Skeeter is funny in all her awkwardness, but her ambition takes her far.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Heather,
    This is one of my favorite books ever! I didn't want it to end....I can hardly wait for the movie. My new bff (lol) friend's sister in law lives in Jackson and knows all the characters in the flesh. Isn't that cool? Not really, those white ladies weren't very nice. She said it is still like that there, in the well to do part of Jackson.