The Help was another book that I had to read for university, alongside The Color Purple. I knew that The Help was a newer book than The Color Purple so I was a bit weary that it wouldn’t be as good (I don’t know why I thought this, but I just thought that Stockett wouldn’t capture the racism of 1962 in Mississippi.
Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.
Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.
Minny, Aibileen’s best friend. She can cook like nobody’s business, but she can’t mind her tongue, so she’s lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.
Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.
I cannot describe how amazing this book was to read. I think I read it in a night? Or something crazy like that? I know that I practically devoured it. I didn’t know how to feel about Skeeter being one of the people who’s points of views we read from. It’s a book about racism in the 60s, how would a white person – and especially a white, rich person contribute to that story? Turns out quite a lot, actually…
Skeeter offers another side of things. She offers the ray of hope that black people saw during those times – the start of acceptance. And as much as I loved reading from Skeeter’s point of view, it was Aibileen’s and Minny’s points of views that really hurt my heart. Their voices made me cry because of how unfair they were treated, how they were taken for granted, and how they were treated like they were invisible; a piece of trash. It sickened me.
I also loved the character of Minny. She kept things sassy, but was also there to keep Aibileen grounded and careful. I was relieved when Minny starting working for Ceila because Celia was like Skeeter in a way. She didn’t care if Minny and herself sat at the same table, or they used the same bathroom, or ate from the same pots, Ceila didn’t see the boundaries, which actually made Minny uncomfortable at first. It was nice to see the boundaries that society had built up break down very slowly. Also… That Terrible Awful Thing that Minny did… Oh. My. God… I was laughing so hard!
I’ve used gifs from the film because the film was just as amazing as the book. It stayed true to the book apart from a couple of things, but even the couple of things that had been changed, they worked really really well and made sense. The film was just as emotional and I thought the casting for Aibileen and Minny was just fantastic. Viola Davis is an amazing actress in general – she can deliver any role perfectly, and then Octavia Spencer is exactly how I imagined Minny would look and act.
What Skeeter, Aibileen and Minny do for the community is enough to give yourself a heart attack. I was so so scared for them, but I wanted them to succeed, I needed them to succeed. This book is just pure perfection and I’m not quite sure which one I liked better; this or The Color Purple. I think each book offers quote different reading experiences and explores different themes, even though both books are about racism in America.
Overall, The Help (book) is amazing and I do recommend that as soon as you finish the book, you watch the film straight after (which is what I did) and it was an incredible experience. Remember: you is kind, you is smart, you is important.