Recommended reading: ‘The Help’ by Kathryn Stockett

By Sister Mary Clare Yates
“The Help” by Kathryn Stockett, 444 pages, Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam, 2009

New York Times best seller “The Help,” deserves its recognition. A first novel by Kathryn Stockett, this book pulls the reader into the world of class and racism experienced in Mississippi during the civil rights era of the 1960s. Narrating this novel are three remarkable women. Two are the African-American maids, Minnie and Aibileen, who work at different households.

The third narrator is young Miss Skeeter from a prominent Mississippi family. She has just returned home from her university studies with the dream of being a writer of significance. Her heightened awareness of racism and class leads her to accede to a seemingly impossible endeavor. She accepts the challenge from Harper/Row to edit a book based on the personal stories of Mississippi maids. Their memories would reveal lives of faith, tenderness, and caring that coexist with tales of suffering, sorrow, and injustice. But could she achieve their confidence?

Secrecy, friendship, and trust are keys to the help’s acceptance of Miss Skeeter and of one another as they recount life stories (good and bad) to her. For the help, the possibile consequences of their identification as an author of such writing are terrifying. If discovered, their memoirs could mean loss of job or death – for Miss Skeeter – total alienation from her Mississippi community.

Don’t miss “The Help.”¬† It is a wonderfully written book of struggle, love, and tenderness about three very different women who desire a better future. It is a book to be shared, discussed, and internalized. A marvelous read!

Available also on CD, the entire book is marvelously read with different narrators for the sections spoken by Abileen, Minnie, and Miss Skeeter. A great listen!

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