The Help: Book Review

Image result for the help book cover

Hi everyone! I have now become a one-month old blogger! A question has been nagging me since the past few days…Am I still new in the blogging world? Should I change me tags?

Jokes,apart I hope something exciting happened with you over the weekend. My weekend was pretty mundane with an exception of buying three new books, which will be read and reviewed pretty soon!

Before beginning, can we just focus on the cover of the book? It’s not just a book cover, it is a piece of art in the truest sense. Just look at the bird in the center, doesn’t it appear to be speaking (or singing) to us through the cover? And of course the other two birds, a little distant and hesitant, but nodding their approval and supporting their leader! It you finish the book and glance at the cover once again, you will realize the three characters are the same. The leader etching her voice in our minds and the other two, supporting her! A big shout-out to the creator for such a brilliant portrayal of the theme! I hope one day my books are also privileged of having such brilliant pieces of art as their covers…

Summary

American author Kathryn Stockett pens down a beautiful story about different people and their lives, emotions, struggle, resistance, friendships, love, losses and victories. The story is set in the town of Jackson, Mississippi, where we meet three head strong women, Aibileen Clark, Minny Jackson ,colored maids who also help raise children and Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan, a young graduate, who aspires to be a writer. Skeeter’s attempts of unraveling the mystery behind her family maid Constantine’s disappearance, leads her to a realization that colored maids are treated differently and they have to lead harsh lives. She then decides to bring this truth in front of the world,in the form of a book, with the help of all maids of her town. The pages of the book, bring the lives of all three protagonists together and leads o unexpected friendships, unexpected emotions, unexpected struggles and unexpected victories…

Writing Style

The books is divided into chapters in lieu of the characters and is a fine example of first-person narrative. Two of the three protagonists are black and stories from their point of view are refreshing. Apart from being strong, bold and unique, one remarkable thing about Stockett’s writing is that, it grasps the attention of the readers right from the beginning and never losses ground. It is hard to believe that it’s Stockett’s debut novel. Each character in the story has a story to tell and the articulate writing plays justice to every character, every incident in the novel.

Characters

Primarily there are three characters; Skeeter, Aibileen and Minny, but other characters like Mrs Hilly Holbrook, Mrs Celia Foote, Mrs Elizabeth Leefolt, Stuart Whitworth and Constantine Bates take the story forward.

Aibileen Clark: A colored maid in Mississippi who first introduces us to her world in the novel. She is a loving, caring and nurturing lady who has raised over a dozen white kids. She lost her only son, Treelore in an accident and misses his presence in her life. She is a courageous lady and the first maid who agreed to reveal the deplorable lives of the domestic help in the town to Skeeter. Her ability to hide her emotions in times of trouble give her a very calm and poised demeanor.

Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan: A fiery, young graduate, aspiring to be a writer against her mother’s wishes of getting married. She is a strong willed woman, who is ready to fearlessly face all the obstacles in the pursuit of her goal. She is one of the few people who never uses others to her own advantage and treats everyone equally. Her caring nature and gratitude for her loved ones know, no bounds. Her confident sense of humor is prevalent throughout the book.

Minny Jackson: The best cook in the entire town with an honest opinion, which she never fears to present to the world. She often tells her employers what she thinks of them, often resulting in her frequently getting fired from her jobs. In the early parts of the novel, she is shown to be afraid of her abusive husband, but over time she gathers courage and ultimately wins over her fears and starts her life anew sans her painful past and shackles. Her courage to share her stories, further inspires others as well and together they bring out a story, which is revolutionary and heartfelt at the same time.

Mrs Hily Holbrook: A egoistic racist and pretentious lady belonging to the elite circles of the society. Her vain pretense and attempts to uphold her honor causes rift between Skeeter and herself.

Mrs Celia Foote: An arch enemy of Mrs Hily Holbrook (although unbeknownst to her) and (an employer) and student of Minny. Her acts of defiance causes ripples in the ideal society.

Mrs Elizabeth Leefolt: Another vain and pretentious employer of Aibileen, who suffers from Postpartum Depression. Her antics and irresponsible behavior towards her child, make you wonder how the little child is blessed to have Aibileen around her, as you read along.

Stuart Whitworth: A dignified young man, who plays Skeeter’s love interest. He is the first person to know about the controversial book Skeeter plans to write, which he keeps a secret and supports her unwillingly.

Constantine Bates: Probably the most important character in the novel, according to me. She is Skeeter’s family maid, who disappears suddenly. Skeeter’s attempts to know about her whereabouts lead to the realization and hence the collection of stories from the servants’ quarters of the elite households.

Book Review

This debut novel by the author provides a fresh narrative of stories by the black community, a topic which has not been probed enough in the past. It also offers a contemporary style of writing, where different stories are narrated by different characters from a first-person perceptive. This book is like a colorful canvas of emotions. You feel angry, sad, happy and satisfied with each page you flip.

Instead of each character, I would like to say, each page has its own story to tell. The plot keeps you at the edge of your seat throughout its course and you feel robbed of a faithful companion as you finish the book. Complex relationships between each character is perfectly captured and eloquently described which multiplies the beauty of the book.The story which finally emerges from the debris of lies and secrets, shines bright against all odds.

How a novel can be both serious and savagely hilarious at the same time, is exemplified in this book. If only a little more light could be thrown on Minny, this novel would have escalated from being near perfect to absolutely perfect. Although you would be both surprised and shocked towards the end, when you find out what antic of hers had made Mrs Hily Holbrook vulnerable to the society. (Alright, no spoilers ahead!)

It is not just a good book to read, but it is life to be lived. So I would rate this book 3.8/5. Read this book once and trust me you will never be able to forget it in your lifetime. It becomes a timeless tale told through the pages of time.

(Let’s see if you remember what I always say at the end of each blog!)

Cheers!

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