The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Powerful. Beautifully written. Stunning. Exquisite piece of literature. This novel had a profound effect on me. The story is told from the point of view of three different women, living in the deep South, in the 1960’s. Skeeter is privileged, white, educated, and itching for something more- although it isn’t apparent to her what that is at first. Abileen is black and works as a nanny and maid in the home of one of Skeeter’s best friends- she is a woman of great faith, compassionate, loving, mourning the loss of her only son, and she is brave, the kind of brave that is quiet but more powerful than any type of bombast. Minny is black and has worked in the houses of many white women but has been dismissed for speaking her mind, she is bold, clever, an expert cook, and despite her harsh words has a truly beautiful heart. These descriptions hardly scratch the surface of who these women are but in order to get the full view of them you would have to read the book. Kathryn Stockett’s characters have so many layers- they are real people despite being fictional. These women are able to come together under difficult and dangerous circumstances and start a project that threatens all of their lives, especially Minny and Abileen’s. They all want change. They want equality. They want the truth of life in the deep South to be told. TRUTH, it’s painful, it’s difficult, it’s harsh, and acknowledging it is cleansing. Parts of this book are very difficult to read. Mississippi in the 1960’s was chaotic, churning, and the epicenter for both hatred and change. I found the descriptions of racial hatred particularly difficult to read. But the story is also beautiful- these three women are absolutely stunning and the way they handle themselves and their lives is enough to break your heart and then put it back together, making it even stronger. I’m shocked this is Stockett’s first novel- she wrote this brilliantly. This story is so compelling and heartfelt. I couldn’t read it fast enough, I had to know what was going to happen to these women. It felt like I knew them and I wanted to help them and protect them and laugh with them and cry with them. This novel is breathtaking. Breathtaking.
I am so glad I read this. So. Glad. This book is a new classic. Everyone should read it, especially women. Ladies, read about these women- learn how not to live from the women in this book who let hatred and ignorance dominate their opinions and take strength and example from the women who stand-up for what is right, who literally jeopardize their safety to tell the truth and work for change. Staggering and truly touching.
What are you reading this week?