Thursday, August 13, 2009
TITLE: THE HELP
AUTHOR: KATHRYN STOCKETT
This was one very well written book, with a fascinating and thought-provoking story. For me it was also a very hard book to read.
The story is set in Jackson, Mississippi in the early 1960's. The lines of segregation are strictly drown through the community and equally strictly enforced. But with the civil rights moving gathering pace, tensions are rising.
In this climate we meet Aibileen, a black maid raising her 17th white child. Ever since her son died she has been finding it harder to just accept life the way it is.
Her best friend Minny has been in trouble with her employers all her working life because of her smart mouth, but has now managed to make an enemy out of the most influential woman in town.
Miss Skeeter is a young white woman. When she returns from college, she finds that Constantine, the maid who raised her and whom she loves, is gone. But no one will tell her where to or why.
Skeeter decides she wants to write about the lives of the black servants and their relationships with their white employers. Aibileen and Minny are her first volunteers, but more follow. With every single woman very aware of the fact that if they are found out the very least they will lose is their jobs.
I found it very hard to believe that this story was taking place during the year I was born. I had to keep on reminding myself that this was 45 years ago and not a century or more. The whole situation is so far removed from the world I grew up in, and the values I was taught that it might as well have been a different planet. Of course I was aware of the segregation issue in the US around this time. But somehow it was never real for me, until I read this book. And that in itself shows what a remarkable book this is.