Book Title: The Help
Author: Kathryn Stockett

Book Review:

First, let me get any seeming biases out of the way: I am in the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). I used to be in the Junior League. I was a sorority girl (actually the same one as the author but not at the same school). I am southern.

Ok, now that you know everything up front, I am going to review The Help by Kathryn Stockett. 🙂

The Help is a novel that explores being an African-American maid, working for a white family in a segregated South. Stockett’s main character, Skeeter, is an aspiring writer who decides to capture the stories and emotions of several black maids in a time when doing so was punishable by death at best, extreme suffering at worst. Aibileen and Minny head up the group of maids despite their fear of retribution, desiring to share the truth with others.

As the book cover says, this book challenges the lines of society and shines a light on the ones we abide by and the ones we challenge. Stockett  takes a risk writing through the eyes of African-American women living in the South in the 60s. Can she really convey how these maids felt?  Can she understand what they went through or the risks they took to share their stories? Here’s the confusing part: Is “she” Stockett? Or is “she” Skeeter? Or does it even matter? Could either of them write these stories in an unbiased way?

I do not know the answer to this debate. What I do know is that Stockett’s writing is that of a melody. She captures the audience and makes you believe you are part of the story. You grit your teeth at the harshness of the white women. You feel for the black women who have to live in fear for their jobs, for their lives. You relate to Skeeter as she is rejected by her friends yet not accepted by the maids. You bite your nails as you wait to hear if the book will be published. You laugh out loud as the women of Mississippi realize that it might just be about them. Then, suddenly, you see boundaries dissipate. You see white women appreciating their black maids. You see black maids holding their heads high. And you see Skeeter with a new beginning.

Of course, everything doesn’t happen that easily, and not everyone changes. Not every boundary magically disappears. And the change that occurs doesn’t happen without suffering. But for the short time you are reading the book, it’s as if you can hear a caged bird sing.

*This book was chosen as the March read for the Bloggy Book Club. I was not paid for this review.

**Find out more about the Bloggy Book Club here. The April read is The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

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March Book Discussion

April 2, 2011

Title: The Help
Author: Kathryn Stockett

What did you think of The Help?
Share your opinions in the comments section and answer any of the discussion questions that you want to answer. Check back for more comments, and join the conversation!

Book Club Discussion Questions:

1. Hilly and Mother are stuck in a pre-civil rights mindset, and others, though they don’t necessarily agree, follow their lead. This is one obvious barrier to equality. What other barriers do you see in the story? How did the characters push those barriers?

2. How do you think Skeeter grew throughout the book?  Think about her emotional, physical, and spiritual growth. 

3. Dialect can be a controversial topic in literature. Do you think the dialect used in this novel adds to or distracts from the story? Make a case for your opinion.

4.  Can a white author truly tell such personal stories for African American women? Or would the book be skewed?

5. Which character did you relate to the most and why?

Find  other book club posts here:
Bloggy Book Club
Bloggy Book Reviews

Happy reading!