‘The Help’ by Kathryn Stockett

Extract

Aibileen

That was the day my whole world went black. Air look black, sun look back. I laid up in bed up in bed and stared at the black walls a my house. Minny came ever day to make sure I was still breathing, feed me food to keep me living. Took three months fore I even look out the window, see if the world still there. I was surprise to see the world didn’t stop just cause my boy did. 

Five months after the funeral, I lifted myself myself up out a bed. I put on my white uniform and put my little gold cross back around my neck and I went to wait on Miss Leefolt cause she just have her baby girl. But it weren’t too long before I seen something in me had changed. A bitter seed was planted inside a me. And I just didn’t feel so accepting anymore. 

Review

I heard all of the hype surrounding this novel when it was published and then saw the film posters, trailers and heard the buzz when it was released. This was a big book. However, I never read it. It somehow passed me by but yet it was always on my ‘to read’ pile. Finally, I got round to it and well, I was speechless.

The novel follows three women: Aibleen and Minny who are ‘the help’ and Skeeter, a white woman who wants to tell their story. Set in Mississippi, 1962, this novel reveals the rising tensions between the races and the length that people will go to to either change society or keep it the same. This novel does not just tell us about Mississippi and race relations, it gives an individual voice to each of these women that draws the reader into their world.

What I enjoyed was the different narrative voices employed in the novel, with each chapter you are transported into a character’s life as she re-tells her aspects of story. With some novels, jumping from different narratives can be confusing or worst of all, inter-changeable because the author has failed to make their characters individuals. This is not the case for Stockett, each maid’s experience is both different and unique, both positive and negative. I felt reading this book that Stockett was able to present a balanced view of the employers and employees, the experiences of both, in an authentic way.  Interestingly, Stockett’s ability to create such a realistic novel may have been because she based Aibileen on Ablene, a maid who works for Stockett’s brother, who later sued Stockett. I don’t about whether this is true or not, what I do know is that ‘The Help’ is a brilliant, insightful, funny and enjoyable novel to read.

You do not need to enjoy reading ‘historical fiction’ to love this book, in actual fact I don’t think I’ve ever read ‘historical fiction’ on purpose. However, if you enjoy reading about strong women who endeavor to overcome obstacles in their lives, whose friendship gets them through difficult times, you are trying to find a voice for themselves when they are forced to be silenced or just a novel that will make you laugh… this is the book for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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