Title: The Help
Author: Kathryn Stockett
Genre: Historical Fiction, Contemporary
First published: February 10th 2009
Finished reading: December 6th 2012
“All my life I’d been told what to believe about politics, coloreds, being a girl. But with Constantine’s thumb pressed in my hand, I realized I actually had a choice in what I could believe.”
I’ve actually read this book various times already in the past, but it never tires rereading this story. The Help has an interesting setting, the Mississippi of 1962, where racial discrimination is still as normal as going to the loo in the morning. It might feel strange to think about this subject today (even though discrimation still exists!), but it is truly terrible how people of color were treated in the past. Kathryn Stockett is able to portray the difference between the rich white people and their black maids in a way that is truly fascinating, and trust me, the supposedly ‘weaker’ class comes out a lot better than those rich snobs. Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter is the perfect character to demonstrate the upcoming change in racial discrimination. She was raised by her black maid Constantine and sees her more as a mother than her biological one. When Constantine disappears, she is determined to find out what happened and get the word out how the black maids are treated in those rich homes. A very intriguing story, although the bad spelling in the parts where the maids were speaking did feel a bit like discrimination as well. Still, if you are looking for an interesting read about the theme, you will probably enjoy The Help.
Her mother is doing all she can to find her daughter a husband, but twenty-two-years-old Skeeter has different plans for her future. She doesn’t seem to fit in with the high society of 1962 Mississippi and adores her beloved black maid Constantine that raised her, even though that is frowned upon. When Constantine disappears and her own mother doesn’t want to tell where she went, she asks for the help of other black maids to find out what happened. Furious when she discovers the truth, she decides to start a clandestine project soon afterwards where she wants to document the lives of the black maids in those rich homes. How are they treated? What do they have to do for their employers? What juicy secrets do they know about them? Still, getting the word out might put all of them at risk…
Every time I pick up The Help I enjoy reading it. The way Skeeter and the maids defy the rules of class separation is both entertaining and interesting to read, even though I’m still not sure what to think of the bad spelling when the black maids are talking. The story itself is a mix of funny, sad, interesting and complicated moments and all in all quite a fast read. If you are looking for a racial problematics themed read, The Help is without doubt an interesting one to pick up.