The Help
Tuesday, October 5, 2010 at 4:18PM
[beastmomma] in 2010

From goodreads:

Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step. Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger.

Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.

Minny, Aibileen’s best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody’s business, but she can’t mind her tongue, so she’s lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.

Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.

Pages: 464 (Hardcover)

Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Source: I purchased because the wait list at the library was over 300

When my book club selected The Help by Kathryn Stockett, I was excited because I wanted to read the book and thought it would be out in paperback in time for our discussion.  Turns out that since it is doing so well, the paperback publication date got pushed back.  I put myself on the list at the library, but knew I was in trouble because the wait list for the book was over 300 people.  Fortunately, I was able to find the book for a reasonable price and got swept up in the story so quickly that I did not feel too bothered with having to purchase a hard back.

I started reading the book a week before our meeting because I wanted to say that I had begun, but I knew I would not be able to finish since I was in the midst of bar exam prep.  I got so engrossed in the lives of the characters that I had to hide the book because it was interfering with my studying.  When I was finally finished with the bar exam, I needed to spend time packing and preparing to move to DC for my new job.  As a result, I could not spend a lot of quality time with the book.  I finally finished the book during my first week in DC and even though I was sorry it had taken me so long to finish, I was glad for the chance to stretch out and savor the story.

My favorite part of the book was the secret friendship that formed between Skeeter and Aibileen.  I especially loved how they came to decide to write the book and the process of discovering the best way in which to tell the story.  I also enjoyed getting to know Minny.  Underneath her tough exterior and rough edges, I loved the tenderness with which she interacted with Aibileen.  One of my favorite scenes in the book is when Minny realizes the secret that her boss is keeping.  I also loved the scene when Minny encourages Skeeter to make a life change.  In addition to being in my favorite scenes in the book, Minny was my favorite character.  I loved how she seemed to get stronger and more powerful as she told her story. 

In my copy of the book, there was an afterward written by the author about the inspiration and experience of writing the book. Even though it was not part of the story, I enjoyed that section as well. It gave context to how the story came about and made me feel more appreciative of her journey into speaking in the voice of women whose life experience is so different from her own.

I am counting the book for the following challenges:

Chunkster Challenge: The book is 464 pages

Women Unbound: The book is about a bond between three women who come together through the power of story telling.

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