#229 ~ The Help (mini review)

Cover of The Help

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

The Help tells the story of the social situation in Jackson, Mississippi* just to the Civil Rights Movement getting started and gaining traction.  If a white woman was able to afford it, she had a black maid to help her run her house.  On the other hand, by hiring maids, the white women of Jackson provided income for the black families of Jackson, meager though it might be.  It was this need for income that compelled the maids to continue working for white families, raising their babies, and putting up with indignities such as having to use “black bathrooms” out in the carport.  Not all white women felt that treating the help like second class citizens was right.  Although the idea was at first prompted by her desire to get a job in the industry, Skeeter Phelan decides to shine a light on the reality of keeping or being the help by interviewing black maids and publishing them in a book.  Even as a fellow Junior Leaguer, this put Skeeter in danger, but that was nothing compared to the risks taken by the help who agree to speak with her.

This was the last audio book I listened to last year and I really enjoyed it.  There were times where I was exasperated by Skeeter, where I want to point out that she’s not that much different from her friends in the Junior League.  She’s using Aibileen, Minnie, and the others for her own gain.  Pushing them outside of their comfort zones and subtly manipulating Aibileen with guilt.  Still, Skeeter has a good heart and is not any more self-centered than any other recent college graduate.  For me, I will forever keep the character of Aibileen in my heart.  She is who made The Help for me.

* A special thanks to A Bookshelf Monstrosity for pointing out a major geographical error. Sometimes I think I need an assistant. LOL!

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I bought this audio book with one of my credits from Audible.com.

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  • At 2010.01.15 09:22, Sandy said:

    I so loved this book. Minnie and Aibileen were precious; I could literally hear their voices in my head as I read the text. I got frustrated with Skeeter, and wanted to smash Hilly’s face. Even though I read and reviewed the book last May, I had recommended my book club read this, and we just discussed it last night. I have yet to hear one person say they don’t like it.

    • At 2010.01.15 11:04, Molly said:

      I reviewed this book last year and in fact rated it as my top read of 2009. I absolutely LOVED Aibileen and feel as though she was so fully developed that I would recognize her immediately if I ever had the opportunity to meet her.

      • At 2010.01.15 12:19, trish said:

        I agree that Skeeter wasn’t really philanthropic. I think the audio was probably great, since I met the lady who did Aibileen. I’m definitely looking forward to the next book by Kathryn Stockett, though!

        • At 2010.01.15 14:20, Sheri said:

          I agree with the thoughts on Skeeter. I totally loved reading this book.

          • At 2010.01.15 14:35, Kathy R (Bermudaonion) said:

            I’m really looking forward to reading this book. I lived in Mississippi during the time it’s set, but my family was not one that could afford “help”, and I really didn’t know anyone who could.

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            • At 2010.01.15 14:57, Lenpre said:

              So true what you say about Skeeter. My favorite character was Minnie, hands down!

              • At 2010.01.15 15:20, Kathleen said:

                This books has been universally adored by the blogs that I follow (if I am not mistaken). Everytime I read another review I move it up my TBR list. There are so many books and not enough time!

                • At 2010.01.15 17:14, carol said:

                  I’m hoping to read this within the next month or so. Everyone seems to love it.

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                  • At 2010.01.15 17:49, Beth Nolan Conners said:

                    I loved this book. While it wasn’t my absolute, very favorite, can’t-live-without-it book for 2009, it was definitely in my top 10. Glad you liked it! :)-beth

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                    • At 2010.01.15 18:16, A Bookshelf Monstrosity said:

                      Hey, I just wanted to drop a quick note to point out that the book is set in Mississippi, not Alabama 🙂 Thanks for the review!

                      • At 2010.01.15 19:10, Amy Reads Good Books said:

                        Great little review! I definitely want to read this one.

                        • At 2010.01.15 19:53, Lisa said:

                          Now that you mention it, I do remember feeling a bit like that about Skeeter but I liked her so much overall that I kind of forgave her for pushing the ladies, I guess.

                          • At 2010.01.15 20:50, Alyce said:

                            You’re right, Aibileen definitely makes this book!

                            • At 2010.01.15 21:23, Jennifer said:

                              Thanks for pointing out my error, Bookshelf! I updated my review and credited you. I really appreciate it!

                              I’ve been thinking about motives and what they matter and I’m just not sure about it. Skeeter wanted to begin her career in writing. That was her primary focus, but what she started did a lot of good for the women she interviewed – it provided them income and, perhaps more importantly, increased pride in themselves and what they do. Does it really matter what Skeeter thought or felt in the beginning? Is some self-interest bad? After all, it does keep us alive. Hopefully I wasn’t too hard on Skeeter.

                              • At 2010.01.15 22:48, Marg said:

                                I think I need to get this one! It does seem to get consistently good reviews around the place!

                                • At 2010.01.16 01:02, Lisa said:

                                  I’ve been hearing a lot of good buzz about this one! Thanks for the great review.

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                                  • At 2010.01.16 10:12, Rebecca Reid said:

                                    I’ve heard great things about this book. Sounds like one to find!

                                    • At 2010.01.17 10:57, Kay said:

                                      Great review! I absolutely have to read this book in 2010, I’ve heard so much about it.

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                                      • At 2010.01.17 15:19, Anna said:

                                        Glad to see you enjoyed it. I just won this in a giveaway, and I can’t wait to read it. It made a lot of “best of 2009” lists!

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                                        • At 2010.01.17 17:38, Bonnie said:

                                          I loved this book. I adored Abileen as well. I didn’t feel that Skeeter was using the women, she put herself in many dangerous situations as well. The women seemed to drive the project even beyond Skeeter’s comfort zone. This must have been a great book to listen to. I may re-read it by listening to it one day. It’s that kind of book that I could re-read and I don’t do that often. Thanks for linking to my review!

                                          • At 2010.01.17 23:16, Melody said:

                                            I’ve read nothing but good reviews about this book so it will be high up on to my to-be-read list!!

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                                            • At 2010.01.18 09:52, Stephanie said:

                                              This book made my top books of 2009 list. I adored it and have heard many times over that the audio version is fantastic!

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                                              • At 2010.01.25 02:34, Michele said:

                                                I really need to get off my butt and go get a copy of this!

                                                • At 2010.01.25 16:06, Jen - Devourer of Books said:

                                                  I agree with what you said about Skeeter, but I still loved her because of her good heart and the conviction she gained. Aibileen was definitely my favorite, though.

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                                                  • At 2010.01.28 10:57, Serena (Savvy Verse & Wit) said:

                                                    I have not read this book yet. thanks for the review.

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