The Help is an amazing story which gives a voice to black women working as hired help in Jackson, Mississippi in the 1960's. Although it is a work of fiction, it resonates with the reader, making us believe that this could very well be a true story. The cast of characters is extremely well drawn and believable and the fact that the author introduces so many different types of characters makes her novel come across as true to life.
There is the character of Aibileen, a woman of integrity whose actions live up to her values. Then there's Minny who is extremely outspoken and, in many ways, the opposite of Aibileen. Minny gets fired from one job after another because she is such a loudmouth but, like Aibileen, she is a good person at heart. And then, of course, there's Eugenia Phelan or "Skeeter", the ingénue who has just graduated from college and who tends to view the world through rose-tinted glasses. Despite her naïveté, Skeeter isn't afraid to speak the truth and this is exactly what she does when she returns home to find rampant racism in the way in which white people treat their black domestic help.
The villain of the story is Hilly, a blatantly racist, white woman who is very prominent in Jackson society. Hilly is trying to legally mandate separate bathrooms for black help because she believes that black and white people have different diseases. Skeeter gets Minny, Hilly's maid to tell her story and Aibileen also pitches in. We learn that Minny has been fired for using an indoor bathroom during a thunderstorm. Starting with these two maids, Skeeter's book grows to include the voices of many black maids in Jackson, Mississippi. The climax of the book is a startlingly funny moment that must be read to be appreciated. Eventually, Skeeter's book is published and she shares the royalties with the maids.
Kathryn Stockett is a native of Jackson, Mississippi. She studied English and Creative Writing and worked in magazine publishing for several years. She says that a black maid she was close to in childhood formed the inspiration for The Help which has sold over 10 million copies and was on the NYT bestseller list for 100 weeks. It has also been made into a movie by the same name with an all star cast, including Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Sissy Spacek, Jessica Chastain, Bryce Dallas Howard and Emma Stone.
Download The Help audiobook now from The Audio Bookstore for a beautiful story about black and white women coming together to fight racism.