Probably one of the most popular books this year is Kathryn Stockett's novel The Help, where she explores the life of black women in Mississippi during the 1960s when the equality and integration movements started nation wide in the United States.
Skeeter is an aspiring writer who has grown up in Jackson Mississippi where segregation between blacks and whites is still the way of life, even to the fact where the black maids who work in the Jackson's white families home, are not able to use the bathroom within the house. Through her interaction with one of her friend's maid Aibileen and her love for her own maid growing up Constantine, Skeeter decides to write a novel from the Jackson's maids point of view, not realizing that by writing this novel could change everything in not only her life, but those who agree to be part of the novel.
I really enjoyed this book, the interaction between the three women and their different reasons for wanting to take part in writing the Help. I was not expecting it (because of what the movie trailer showed as Skeeter as the main character) but I really liked that Stockett had different chapters dedicated to each of the women. This allowed the reader to get to know each of the women individuals and really showed the disparity between Skeeter and Minny and Aibileen. It was very interesting to see the interaction between the women and how the each change throughout the book and how writing a novel changed them as well.
The characters within this book have been masterly crafted and you get to know each woman individually as there are chapters within the story that are dedicated to each characters. This helps give each women's perspective on what life is like and what is going on in Jackson Mississippi.
Skeeter, is a strong character who is attempting to understand the changes that are occurring across the United States as well as her own perspective on life as it has changed and does not fit any more with the girls that she grew up with. Raised by the family maid Constantine, Skeeter loved her like any girl would love the woman that raised her and this has shaped her view on the white and black situation that is happening around her and gives her the strength to want to write about it.
Minnie is the out spoken one of the three, who is not afraid to tell her mind to anyone, but knows that it will be this is also her downfall both within the work force but also at home. I really liked when Minnie went to work for Celia Foote, it showed a different side of Minnie that she really does have a caring side for white people even though she tries hard to hide it.
I think that Aibileen is my favorite character in this book, I cannot say how much I enjoyed her parts. Her strength and love for the children that she raises as her own is inspiring. She is a very soft spoken character, but who is probably the strongest of them all. Aibileen is trying hard to make sure that the children she raises feel important especially Mae Mobley who does not feel loved by her mother. Aibileen even begins to change how she raises the children through her process of telling her stories to Skeeter. As I said Aibileen is my favorite character within the book and I think the one who is explored the most.
I have seen the movie for The Help as well, and while it is a good movie, it does not hold a candle to the book. I found that there was lack of character development in the movie when compared the book. I also think that the movie did the book a disfavour by changing Constantine's story as to why she "left" and I think if they would have used the one from the book it would have showed more of the disparity between whites and black within the Jackson community.
I think that Stockett's novel is well written, has great story as well as fantastic character development. I think that is has a great message and could see parents reading this book with older children. If you were thinking of picking this book up, I would, you will not be disappointed.