the helpTitle: The Help

Author: Kathryn Stockett

Date Finished: 31/07/13

Re-Read? : First time read

Challenges? : No

Overall: 5/5 – absolutely fantastic

I picked this book up in a charity shop last year just by chance, as the cover looked good and I thought I’d heard some good things about it!  I definitely had!  This novel is truly amazing and I am so glad I took it with me on holiday, as I couldn’t put it down and I actually had time to read as much as I wanted.

The setting is Jackson, Mississippi in the 60s and the three protagonists are Aibileen, Minny and Miss Skeeeter.  Aibileen and Minny and black and work as maids for white people, one of whom is Miss Skeeter.  Each chapter is told from the viewpoint of one of the maids and as the book progresses, the three form the unlikeliest alliance as each of their lives goes up and down.

The plot is truly fantastic and is 100% unpredictable – you have no idea what is going to happen next!  This is probably what kept me turning the pages the most.  Obviously books like this inevitably have sad parts that really affect you emotionally and also make you question: ‘since I’m white, would I have behaved like that if I lived there?’  I hope I could answer ‘no’!  Stockett has been very careful and thoughtful, as there are no loose ends – everything is resolved in one way or another and the plots and subplots all weave together completely coherently.

The characters are also a 5/5 in this novel – aside from Aibileen, Minny and Miss Skeeter, there is Hilly, Elizabeth, Constantine and so many others who all have big roles and big personalities to match!  The whole story of Miss Celia is so totally weird and unexpected, I don’t think I have ever been so surprised when we found out what was going on!

The setting obviously reminds me of To Kill a Mockingbird and some of the themes overlap slightly, but this is definitely not a spin off or copy!  It takes a completely different attitude and perspective on the racial inequality in 60s USA.  TKAMB focuses on the innocence of children and general prejudice to show how wrong the racism is whereas The Help is more like TKAMB from the viewpoint of Calpurnia and her colleages!  There is less imagery and hinting in The Help of what happens behind closed doors than in TKAMB: in The Help we actually are behind closed doors with the maids and their employers.

As you can no doubt tell, I adored this book and I am going to recommend it to everyone who comes my way!  It is perfect for you if you loved TKAMB like me, but also perfect if you didn’t as it deals with everything so differently!  So basically, it is perfect for everyone…go out and buy it now!