Thursday, 2 October 2014

Book Review - The Help

I watched the film adaptation of The Help quite a while ago and after seeing it on my bookshelves recently, I decided to give it a go.

It was written by Kathryn Stockett and is set in Jackson, Mississippi during 1962. The chapters have varying narrators throughout, the first being Aibileen. She is black and works for a white woman called Miss Leefolt, raising her child, cooking and cleaning.

Chapter three is told from the point of view of Minny who is quite like Aibileen in the sense that she also earns money from working for richer white families, yet Minny has more of an outspoken nature and is no stranger to being fired. In the beginning, she works for Miss Walters - an old lady who is either deaf or pretends not to notice Minny's rudeness. However, when Miss Hilly (Miss Walter's awful daughter) annoys Minny, she does something terrible to Miss Hilly which causes her to be fired. After this, Minny goes to find another job and the only woman who will take her is the desperate Celia Rae Foote.

Miss Skeeter tells chapter five and we learn that she is a white lady trying to fit in with the others, yet failing because she disagrees with the shocking way black people are treated. She still lives with her parents and their maid is called Pascagoula. Previously, a lady named Constantine was their maid, but for a reason unknown to Miss Skeeter, Pascagoula took her place whilst Skeeter was away at university.

For the whole book, these are the only narrators. However, when all of the characters go to 'The Jackson Junior League Annual Ball and Benefit' in chapter 25, narration is in the third person, which means you only receive the story from an onlooker's perspective. 'The Benefit' as it is more concisely known is a night of fundraising for starving children in Africa.

The key theme in the story is the horrible way black people (maids in particular) are treated by white people. Miss Skeeter seems to be the only white person to want to do something about this and persuades many of the maids to tell her their stories so she can write a book about it. The book is eventually published anonymously and causes a commotion in not only Jackson, but all over America.

I would recommend this book to ages 16+ as it has adult themes such as racism and abuse. However, I wouldn't say the style of writing was too complex for younger teenage readers.

Overall, I think this is my favourite book so far! If you are thinking of reading any of the books I have reviewed, definitely try this one first.

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