Set in Jackson, Mississippi in the early 1960s, The Help tells the story of three women, Aibileen, Minny, and Skeeter, who try to make Jackson a better place for African American maids. Aibileen and Minny are both African American maids that have worked for white families their whole lives, while Skeeter is a young woman who just returned to Jackson after attending college, with big dreams of becoming a writer. When Hilly Holbrook, the woman everyone in Jackson looks up to and the nemesis of the three main characters, starts the "Home Help Sanitation Initiative," a law requiring white families to have different bathrooms for their colored maids, Skeeter becomes angry. So, with Aibileen's help, she begins writing a book from the perspective of the colored maids in Jackson. The Help follows their journey in creating this book, showing all the challenges and road blocks they meet along the way.
The thing that I really liked about this book was how you could tell when the character telling the story shifted in the novel because each of their voices were so unique. Each character, Aibileen, Minny, and Skeeter, had a distinct style that I came to appreciate by the end of the novel. It was almost like I could hear them talking, like they were there telling me the story instead of me reading it from the book. It takes a really skilled writer to do that, and I think Kathryn Stockett really pulled it off well. She also did a good job depicting life in the South in the early 1960s. You could almost feel the tension between blacks and whites radiating from the novel, and you got a good sense of how people really thought back then, especially with the "Home Help Sanitation Initiative." Something like this may seem completely ridiculous to us today, but in the 1960s, when race was such a huge issue, it didn't seem as ridiculous, at least to the white people. I think Kathryn Stockett does a really good job show casing the fact that people did really think this way at some point, and some may even still think this way today. Maybe not with race so much any more, but I think it can be seen in how LGBTQ individuals are treated, especially in schools. People are uncomfortable around things that are different from their own lifestyle. And that can be seen well in the South in the 1960s. The white people were so afraid of the blacks that they wanted them to have their own bathrooms. The fact that people actually thought like this blows my mind.
Overall, The Help was definitely worth reading. It makes you think, it makes you laugh, it makes you cry, all great qualities for a book. And I've heard the movie is just as good. Let's hope so. I'm not sure what I'll be reading next, but Thanksgiving break is coming up soon, so hopefully I'll have some time to do some reading then. If not, I probably won't be writing again until winter break. So until then, happy reading!