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Review: The Help

July 5, 2011

Three women from totally different backgrounds come together to work on a secret project to try to create social change in Jackson, Mississippi in 1962.  They are:

  • Skeeter, a recent graduate of Ole Miss who has returned home, wanting a career instead of a husband.  Her family’s maid, Constantine, raised her and when Skeeter comes home, she’s no longer there.  No one will tell her where or why she’s gone.  She asks some of the maids about her and starts to see Jackson’s social system in a different light.
  • Aibileen is the maid of one of Skeeter’s closest friends, Elizabeth.  Aibileen has loved and raised many white children, even as she suffers a personal tragedy.
  • Minny is one of Aibileen’s closest friends and she’s full of sass and spunk.  She says what she thinks and it’s cost her more than one job through the years.  After losing her latest job, Aibileen helps her find one with a woman who grew up poor but has married into money.

I’m sure everyone has heard of The Help, by Kathryn Stockett, especially since the movie version is coming out next month.  This book has spent months on bestseller lists and for good reason – it’s fabulous!  It’s told from the points of view of Skeeter, Minny and Aibileen – each character has a unique voice and style and I loved all three of them.  The secondary characters in this book are fantastic, too – even the ones I didn’t like – because they’re so realistic and true to life.  I think the characters are what makes this book so special.  They’re portrayed so well, readers feel like they know them when they finish the book and everyone will recognize people they know.

The story of The Help is wonderful too.  Set in the midst of the civil rights movement, it includes historical detail along with a wonderful story that highlights the way individuals can create social change.  I found this book to be well written and I was hooked right from the beginning.  My only qualm with it is that it gives readers the impression that everyone in the South had help at that time.  I actually lived in Mississippi in 1962 and no one we knew had help – that was something for people with more money than we had.  That little qualm didn’t hamper my enjoyment of the book at all, though.   If you haven’t read The Help yet, do yourself a favor and grab a copy now!

Challenge: Amy Einhorn Challenge

Review copy provided by Penguin Books.  I am an Indiebound Affiliate.
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60 Comments leave one →
  1. July 5, 2011 5:17 am

    I LOVE The Help! What a wonderful novel. I love how the author depicted the friendship between women. I am really excited about the movie too.

  2. July 5, 2011 5:26 am

    I didn’t realise it was about to be made into a film. I would love to see it but think I should read the book first.

  3. July 5, 2011 5:34 am

    The movie is coming next month?! Oh..that does it, I will just end up watching the movie instead since I am swamped

  4. July 5, 2011 5:47 am

    Have been meaning to read this one for so long. Something always gets in the way. Do want to read it before the movie comes out.

  5. July 5, 2011 6:02 am

    I adored this book and am eager to see how the film director/producers present it. Our club read this and I hope I can get everyone to see it with me.

  6. July 5, 2011 7:05 am

    I so loved this book, and look forward to the movie as well. Glad you enjoyed this Kathy.

  7. July 5, 2011 7:10 am

    Didn’t know the movie was out next month. I really enjoyed the book.

  8. July 5, 2011 7:14 am

    I’m so glad that you liked this! It’s one of my favorites!

  9. July 5, 2011 8:37 am

    I really enjoyed this book as well, Kathy. I’m hoping they don’t ruin it in the movie…. .I can see it being well-done, but they could also really mess it up! Too many movies about the South get it completely wrong! Stockett drew these characters so well in the book that I’m fearful about the actors they have chosen to portray them. Maybe it will work…. I hope so!

  10. July 5, 2011 8:42 am

    This was the first book that I checked out of the library based on a blogger’s review. It was a terrific read.

  11. July 5, 2011 9:39 am

    I thought this book was fantastic and it’s one of the book movies I actually plan on seeing. I hope it doesn’t let us down! I thought the characters, the settings, the events were all spot on

  12. Veens permalink
    July 5, 2011 9:57 am

    I have this book! I really want to get to it :) Thank you for the glowing review, I am going to read this next.

  13. July 5, 2011 10:05 am

    Glad to hear you enjoyed The Help. It’s one of my favorite audios.

  14. July 5, 2011 10:12 am

    Must read this, before the movie,looks really good.

  15. July 5, 2011 10:24 am

    The movie trailer is on youtube, and it looks like the movie is going to be great also!

  16. July 5, 2011 10:34 am

    I need to hurry up and read this one before the movie comes out! I know I am probably the last to pick it up by now! Great review, Kathy!

  17. July 5, 2011 10:43 am

    Lovely review! I remember being slightly underwhelemd by this but I think it was, over all, fairly enjoyable. I think it was getting some serious hype around the time I read it and thought it was maybe just “ok”.

  18. July 5, 2011 11:13 am

    This is the first e-book I downloaded over a year ago and I still haven’t read it! I am feeling some positive pressure to read it with the movie coming out, though. Thanks for a great review! I hope I’ll enjoy it as much as you did. :)

  19. July 5, 2011 12:24 pm

    I loved the book and am looking forward to the movie!

  20. July 5, 2011 12:59 pm

    This was one of the best books I read last year. I think the best thing about it, but unfortunately also the worst, is that it’s so true in its depiction of treatment of black servants and the attitudes of white women. It wasn’t just true of Miss., it was also true of Illinois where I grew up and, I suspect, much of the country at that time. The bravery of those who fought for civil rights for all simply astounds me.

  21. July 5, 2011 2:01 pm

    Oh I can’t wait to read this one as it is my summer book club pick. My daughter decided to start reading this one right away as I started something else. Thanks for the review!

  22. July 5, 2011 2:06 pm

    I just read this book over the weekend and really enjoyed it. I agree — all the characters were fantastic, even the awful ones.

  23. July 5, 2011 2:12 pm

    I just started reading this one, and I can already tell i’m going to love it.

  24. July 5, 2011 3:19 pm

    I LOVED this book and gave it for xmas gifts back in 2009; can’t wait for the movie! I just finished two southern fiction books, Tomorrow River by Lesley Kagen and The Dry Grass of August by Anna Jean Mayhew and BOTH those books featured “help” by African-American women as well!

  25. July 5, 2011 3:34 pm

    this seems like a book that should be read by book clubs.

  26. July 5, 2011 4:00 pm

    I adored The Help and I am pleased to see you did as well. I had no idea it was being made into a movie. I think I will stick with re-reading the book.

  27. July 5, 2011 4:01 pm

    I saw a movie trailer a couple of weeks ago and thought it looked really good. Enjoyed the book.

  28. July 5, 2011 4:03 pm

    gosh, I loved,loved,loved this book. You are right. All the characters,even the ones I disliked were wonderful.

  29. July 5, 2011 4:04 pm

    I agree – fabulous book, fantastic characters!

  30. July 5, 2011 4:05 pm

    My whole book club, myself included, loved this book and we can’t wait to see the movie when it comes out!

  31. July 5, 2011 4:41 pm

    I too loved the book and I can’t wait to see the movie! It’s coming out soon and I hope to go see it with my book club.

  32. July 5, 2011 5:06 pm

    Everyone in my book club LOVED this book.

    Fabulous review. Looking forward to the movie.

    Elizabeth

  33. July 5, 2011 6:10 pm

    I’m looking forward to seeing how the book translates to the big screen.

  34. July 5, 2011 6:41 pm

    I definitely agree with you on this one. I don’t normally gravitate toward southern fiction, so this book was a welcome surprise.

  35. July 5, 2011 6:48 pm

    I’ve had this book for a long time and just haven’t gotten to it yet. I’ve only heard good things and now you’re review has me motivated to move it to the top of the pile. So glad you liked it!

  36. July 5, 2011 7:06 pm

    When I finished reading this book I just sat in my chair for quite some time. I just didn’t want to leave the characters. They were so real. I thought I would reread the book but then I heard it was going to be made into a movie. They better get this book right in the movies or a lot of people are going to be awfully mad.

    • July 5, 2011 7:11 pm

      Sorry, that’s me disguised as the Foodies Reading Challenge.

  37. kaye permalink
    July 5, 2011 7:10 pm

    This was such a wonderful book! I don’t think I’ve heard of anyone who disliked it. Stockett did a fantastic job with her characters. I hope we get to see more from her in the not too distant future.

  38. July 5, 2011 7:21 pm

    I am really looking forward to the movie version!

  39. July 5, 2011 9:51 pm

    I listened to this on audio and the cast is fantastic. I wondered if I would like it as much if I had read it on paper, but it continues to get rave reviews, so I guess it is a distinct possibility.

  40. stacybuckeye permalink
    July 5, 2011 10:59 pm

    I know I should read this, but haven’t yet. Maybe I’ll see the movie first (I must really be behind in my reading if I’m saying that !)

  41. July 5, 2011 11:18 pm

    I’ve seen nothing but glowing reviews of this one, but for some reason I can’t get myself to read it. Maybe one of these days I will, but I’m just not sure it’s for me. Thanks for your review!

  42. July 5, 2011 11:26 pm

    I’m totally amazed that you just now read this one!! I thought I was the last person on earth to read it :D

    Now I must get my copy out and try to get it done this month!!

  43. July 6, 2011 12:23 am

    I must read this. Great review.

  44. July 6, 2011 2:25 am

    The Help> sounds fabulous, Kathy! Terrific, concise review. I’d like to read the book, and/or see the movie.

  45. July 6, 2011 8:18 am

    Minnie and her pies are my favorite!!!

  46. July 6, 2011 1:11 pm

    I loved The Help. I kept trying to convince my mom to read it to no avail. I’m definitely going to make her see the movie, though. I just hope it lives up to my expectations.

  47. July 6, 2011 2:26 pm

    I really enjoyed this one too.

  48. July 6, 2011 10:51 pm

    lovely book! i hope to re-read sometime in the near future… and see the movie of course.

  49. July 6, 2011 11:03 pm

    i’m eager to see the movie version to see how the book translates. i find this era in america’s history (civil rights) to be so interesting and teach my students about it (and the years leading up to it) when we read ‘a raisin in the sun’. glad you enjoyed this one. also, i wanted to let you know how much i enjoyed reading ‘between shades of gray’, a book i read about here on your blog. your author interview was also terrific. i recently reviewed the book and plan to use it in my class next year. thanks for the recommendation! :)

  50. July 7, 2011 7:01 am

    I read the book way, way back before it hit the shelves (ARC) and then listened to the audio (which is just as entertaining as the written version). I can still envision the scenes and hear the voices of Skeeter, Abilene and Minny after all this time. What a truly remarkable novel. I hope the movie lives up to my expectations!

  51. July 7, 2011 10:13 am

    I really need to read this one — even though you did burst my bubble about all Southerners having hired household labor (LOL)!

  52. July 7, 2011 8:45 pm

    I almost didn’t read this because I was so sick of hearing about it … but I’m glad I got over that and read it. It really was good. I’m curious to see the movie.

  53. July 7, 2011 10:00 pm

    I must read this before the movie comes out – it has been on my shelf for TOO long! I am impressed by its seeming universal appeal – I don’t think I have seen a bad review!

  54. July 9, 2011 9:37 pm

    Interesting to hear that the book was enjoyed by someone who could compare it to the scene it was really set within. Even though your personal experience didn’t match what was portrayed, it is good to know that the author captured the overall scene of the region accurately. I have read many books set in my part of the world that are just no good and filled with stereotypes.

    I totally agree with you on your review – the essence of this book’s success were its characters. Aibileen still lives in my heart and her spirit was amazing.

    -Molly

  55. July 10, 2011 12:48 am

    I think I am now the only one who hasn’t read this one. I will definitely read it before I see the movie. Glad you enjoyed it.

  56. July 10, 2011 11:53 am

    It’s one of my “Gotta Get It” but my trepidations at expecting too much gets in the way. I have no reason for not getting to it… but… Alright will find it or ask to read MRS Q’s book instead.

  57. July 11, 2011 12:48 pm

    I really want to read this book before the movie comes out, so it’s a good thing I’ll probably be waiting for the DVD. ;) Sounds fantastic.

  58. redladysreadingroom permalink
    July 11, 2011 4:24 pm

    I’m glad that you got to read this one before the movie comes out. It’s a favorite of mine and so well written. I really didn’t get the impression that everyone in the south had help from reading the book. Most of the characters were well off financially so I just assumed that area had more richer families who could afford the help.

  59. July 12, 2011 4:50 pm

    I’m so glad you enjoyed this one! It was a fantastic book.

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