Read The World -The Help — Kathryn Stockett (USA)
Blurb from goodreads.com, please scroll down for my review. Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step. Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone. Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken. Minny, Aibileen’s best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody’s business, but she can’t mind her tongue, so she’s lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own. Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.
In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women, mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends, view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don’t.
“You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”
Welcome to my journey around the world through books. Today we are visiting country number 67, the United States of America, with the book The Help by the author Kathryn Stockett.
After reading a sad and depressing book: Seven Stones by Vénus Khoury-Ghata I wanted to read a book that is a little more uplifting, even though at the same time this novel is sad, eye opening and hopeful, written from the points of view of 3 women, two african american and one white, with different backgrounds. Each chapter has a different main character, Aibileen, Minny and Skeeter.
Each of these characters and all the others in this novel are well developed and detailed, you learn about their pasts, their families, what they do in their spare time, etc.
The white women in this book, the wives, who are often mothers are shaped by the world they live in and are raised in.
The language is rich and varied and when the african american ladies are talking they have their own dialect, which for the first chapter was difficult to follow, but I quickly adapted.
Out of the three main characters my favourite was Aibileen, but it was a difficult choice as they are all excellent.
Aibileen, Minnie and Skeeter are trying to write a book, but the contents of this book could get Aibellen, Minnie and all the other ´help´ into some serious trouble which could affect their lives for good. The idea of this book, the one they are writing, is to open the eyes of many white families and hopefully improve the maids’ lives.
I enjoyed the historical mentions about Martin Luther King and other key moments in history.
Hopefully this book opened the eyes of many people about how white people treated their black maids in and around the 1960’s in the Southern states of the USA.
Who would you rather be, the stuck up white comfortable woman who often mistreats the help or the african american person who works really hard and is often mistreated.
With this novel you can laugh and cry at the same time, this is a debut novel and so far to date the author’s only novel.
This is a very believable book, so well written and highly recommended.
I am giving this book 5 stars. The next country we are visiting in the Read The World challenge is Estonia
About the author
Kathryn Stockett is a writer and editor of American origin. Born in 1969 in Jackson, Mississippi, she is best known for her critically acclaimed novel The Help.
Stockett studied creative writing and English for her undergraduate course from University of Alabama. Then she moved to New York in order to pursue work in the publishing business. For about nine years she offered her services in marketing and publishing of magazines there and later relocated to Atlanta, Georgia. She shifted her interest to literary writing as she moved back to the South.
After five years of hard work on her personal writing project she finally had The Help published in 2009. It was not easy for Stockett to find a willing literary agent to represent her work. After rejection from 60 literary agents consecutively, eventually agent Susan Ramer took upon the task. The novel became a milestone in Stockett’s writing career earning a tremendous praise for writing on a unique subject matter. The inspiration for the novel is Stockett’s own childhood.
The Help highlights the relationship dynamics between whites and their African-American domestic help in the South. At first Stockett was reluctant to write about the dynamics of this relationship as she knew it would be heavily criticized. In her interviews she recounted her experience as a child in the South where Jackson had an equal population of white and back, though she never saw any black receiving education. Her childhood memories are only of blacks as domestic help for white people which she assumed was a customary affair. It was not until she moved to North she was able to see the bigger picture. She realized that she was living in an isolated place where blacks were not considered equal race.
As she shared her childhood experiences of black domestic help in her family with other Southerners, she mulled the idea of writing down a story on it. The model for her novel was her close relationship with a black housekeeper, Demetrie. In an interview, Stockett sketched Demterie’s life who was underprivileged and was treated somewhat like a slave despite the change in segregation laws in 70’s. Every family in Stockett’s town had a black woman as a domestic help and they were expected to wear a white uniform which granted them access to white people’s markets. They were not allowed privacy or offered any sort of comforts.
During the initial process of writing Stockett employed the first-person narrative of a black housekeeper, thinking her work would never have any readership. It was not until she let her friends read the book in order to get their valuable feedback, she felt concerned about her narrative technique and depiction of characters. Despite her apprehension, the novel won rave reviews from readers and critics alike. Over ten million copies of the book have been sold in over 42 different languages. In 2011, the novel was adapted into film by Walt Disney Studios.
After publication of the novel, Kathryn Stockett professed that she felt mortified that it took her 20 years to see the unjust treatment of blacks. And the sole reason for her writing The Help was to understand why she couldn’t see through the duplicity of things in the South. The memories of Demterie still haunt her and make her wonder what her childhood companion would think of present America, electing a black president twice.
Originally published at http://readinginecuador.wordpress.com on March 14, 2022.