The Help is the first novel by the American author Kathryn Stockett. It takes place in the early 1960s, a very important period for the civil rights movement. There’s a lot of unrest. It’s just after the Montgomery Bus Boycott. A protest that started with Rosa Parks who refused to give up her seat for a white man although the busdriver told her to do so. John. F. Kennedy is president of the United States. His brother Robert Kennedy is the Attorney General. J. Edgar Hoover is director of the FBI. It’s the period in which the assistence of U.S. marshals is required to to enforce a federal court order allowing the admittance of the first African American student James Meredith to the University of Mississippi, the period in which Martin Luther King jr. is leading the “March on Washington”.
Miss Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan has big dreams of becoming a writer. Her mother, however, has other dreams for Skeeter: to find her a rich husband from a good Southern family. Realizing how badly the black maids “The Help” are being treated by their white employers, she comes up with an idea to interview and write about the black maids in Jackson, and their relationships with their white employers. A very dangerous project for all participating maids.
Never a dull moment in this long book. The story grabs you and doesn’t let you go. The characters are wonderfully developed, as are the historical background and setting. Sometimes the book makes you laugh but more often it makes you truly sad because of the way the whites treat the black housekeepers and maids. I really enjoyed reading the seperate voices in alternating chapters – Abileen, Minnie and Skeeter. So real that you almost hear them tell their stories in the typical accent in the Deep South.
I strongly recommend reading The Help, a great debut novel, four stars.