The Help (Kathryn Stockett)

The Help is a novel by Kathryn Stockett. It was recently adapted into a film.

1960  in Jackson, Mississippi: Aibileen is a maid who is currently working for the Leefolt family, where she especially loves taking care of Mae Mobley, the Leefolts’ little girl. Her best friend is Minny who – quite contrary to Aibileen – usually gets in trouble because she won’t hold her peace. Which is not the best course of action for a maid. But when the white Skeeter looks for a maid to talk about her life, so she can write a book about it, it’s Aibilieen who jumps at the chance.

It took me a bit to get into the book but when I did it was a really nice, flowing read with some great characters.

When Stockett writes from Aibileen’s and Minny’s point of view, she writes in dialect, which was one of my main difficulties to get into the whole thing. It just felt a bit forced in the beginning. But then I got used to it and actually started to enjoy it.

The story touches all the right buttons, jerks a few tears and is pretty inspiring. But the best thing about it are the characters. A book populated by great women (and where men are only sidenotes) is rare enough. And when it’s enjoyable, it’s a real double win.

I was surprised by two things: a) the ending was much happier than I expected. I thought we’d get some major drama. It’s not there and I didn’t miss it, so that’s completely fine. But I did expect it. And b) I thought that I would have more issues with the white woman giving the black women their voice (as if they couldn’t manage on their own), but it actually didn’t bother me much. Maybe because I liked Skeeter. Maybe because the way Aibileen is written, it makes sense that she would need somebody like Skeeter to give her the boost she needs.

It’s a book practically begging for a movie adaptation, so I’m very interested to see how the film’s gonna go.

Summarising: Not a must-read, but quite enjoyable.

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