Thursday, August 04, 2011

[Book Review] THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett

Have you made plans to see the film adaptation of THE HELP? Have you read the novel? Refresh your memory with details from the following review submitted by Alberta Bell.

Kathryn Stockett, author of The Help, grew up in Jackson, Mississippi and used various sources (stories from her family and her family’s beloved black maid, her friends, other authors, and news media) to shape her fictional characters and their secretive part in stopping an unthinkable and unjust initiative on the black maids in Jackson, Mississippi during the turbulent Civil Rights Movement. Kathryn Stockett magnificently brings the reader into the lives of all the characters, why they are the way they are, and the racial lines that have existed between blacks and whites for generations.

Miss Hilly, the President of the Jackson Women’s League, has drafted the “Home Help Sanitation Initiative“ and plans to take it to the local government for possible action for white families to build a separate bathroom in their backyards for use by their black maids. It is Miss Hilly’s belief that black people carry germs that could be harmful to white people and black maids should not be allowed to use the home’s guest bathroom facilities. Ms. Elizabeth Leefolt (being new to Jackson and the Jackson Women’s League and wishing to win favor with Miss Hilly) persuades her husband to call in a contractor to build a separate bathroom in the backyard just for their maid, Aibileen.

Miss Skeeter, a recent college graduate and editor of a weekly column in the local Jackson newspaper, contacts a New York publishing company about an idea she has to stop Miss Hilly. She wants to write a book of interviews from black maids of “what it feels like being Negro and working for white women.” No maids want to do any interviews because they fear retaliation by their white women employers. However, when Miss Hilly does a mean, hateful act to her maid Yule Mae, then Aibileen, Minnie, and 11 other maids agree to risk their lives and their families’ lives by granting Miss Skeeter the interviews for a tell-all book that will stop Miss Hilly and her Home Help Sanitation Initiative!

Alberta Bell, Library Volunteer

The film version of The Help arrives in theaters Wednesday, August 10. The full cast can be found here at The Internet Movie Database.

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