This is by far the best novel that depicts the lives of black Americans in the 1960’s in southern America. It’s The Color Purple meets modern day, more comprehensible and relatable Feminine Mistique. I went through the 450+ pages in a day. Well, I went to bed at 630am. I just couldn’t put it down. I usually have a hard time going through books about the “early black America” period only because (to be frank-) it gets a tiny bit boring. I lose interest because many books talk about the same issues using mono-tone and less-than flattering adjectives. Don’t get me wrong, books like Beloved, Cry the Beloved Country, The Color Purple … are all notable, classic Am lit books; but I just wouldn’t re-read them if I had a choice to choose something to read again. The Help is the kind of book that you’d want to go back to over and over again. I’ve never laughed and cried so much at the same time.
Stockett’s writing style is simple and lucid yet very detailed. The Help is about two black maids and a white socialite coming together to bring a small but significant revelation in Jackson, Mississippi in 1964. Aibileen, Minny and Eugenia are all sick and tired of suffocating underneath imaginary boundaries and rules, mostly standardized by southern confederates. Eugenia goes against the norm and secretly interviews and writes about the experiences of black domestic servants working for white families. So many secrets and stories unfold and it just has you engaged until you find out about the truth hidden under the small southern town. The book drew me into every scene making me feel like I was sitting right across the table with aggressive and tough-love kind of figure, Minnie, or sitting right next to Eugenia when she drove through her father’s cotton fields in her big, bulky, red truck. The story becomes personalized because of the three different narrations in the book; you read like you can hear ’em talking to you with the heavy southern accent.
I think the reason why the book has been successfully acclaimed as different and wonderful is because of how Stockett doesn’t focus the plot with the violent repressions of the outspokenness of black Americans and their pain. She focuses on the affection and intimacy in black and white (and both) households.
Beyond racial issues lies the sincerity of sustaining true friendships, and trusting family members through the thick and thin. Up to the very last sentence of the book, I did not want the story to end. I had to close the book and breathe and tell myself that my imaginations had to stop when the book did. The characters are so real, the images are so vivid and every single page overflows with creative descriptions and details!
dee’s recommedation: 5/5