The Help – Book Review

helpMiss Skeeter move her eyes back to the window, on Miss Hilly’s Buick. She shake her head, just a little. “Aibileen, that talk in there…Hilly’s talk. I mean…”

I pick up a coffee cup, start drying it real good with my cloth.

“Do you ever wish you could…change things?” she asks.

And I can’t help myself. I look at her head on. Cause that’s one a the stupidest questions I ever heard. She got a confused, disgusted look on her face, like she done salted her coffee instead a sugared it. – from The Help, page 10 –

The year is 1962. The place is Jackson, Mississippi. The issue is civil rights. Kathryn Stockett’s best selling debut novel, The Help, is narrated in the unforgettable voices of three women caught up in history and courageous enough to believe things can change simply by sharing their stories.

Skeeter is the white daughter of a cotton farmer. Despite her mother’s wish that she marry a prominent man and become a good Southern wife, Skeeter dreams of a different life for herself – that of a journalist and novelist. Unlike her closest friends, Skeeter doesn’t understand the division between whites and blacks – least of all the hypocrisy of having black women care for their homes and children, but denying them the use of their bathrooms because of fear of “disease.”

Aibileen is the black maid of one of Skeeter’s best friends, Elizabeth. Large, loving and sensitive, Aibileen mourns the loss of her son while wrapping her arms and heart around the white children in her care. Skeeter offers her hope of change – that this new generation might somehow see the racism of their parents and teachers and reject it.

Minny, anther black maid who must face the untrue accusation that she is a thief, is filled with energy, honesty and anger. Her unflagging spirit and kind heart lift her above an abusive marriage and give her the courage to join Aibileen and Skeeter in a project which will shake the racist foundation of a town whose views of segregation have stood fast for far too long.

A Dreft commercial comes on and Miss Celia stares out the back window at the colored man raking up the leaves. She’s got so many azalea bushes, her yard’s going to look like Gone With the Wind come spring. I don’t like azaleas and I sure didn’t like that movie, the way they made slavery look like a big happy tea party. If I’d played Mammy, I’d of told Scarlett to stick those green draperies up her white little pooper. Make her own damn man-catching dress. – from The Help, page 50 –

Thematically, The Help explores parenting, moral values, the many faces of racism, women’s friendships, and the power of joining our voices in a common cause. Skillfully crafted using three narrators in alternating chapters, The Help is a book which is hard to put down. Stockett is a talented storyteller who takes her time in fleshing out her fascinating and complex characters. I found myself growing to care immensely about Aibileen, Minny, and Skeeter. I worried about them, found myself cheering them on, and hoped for a positive resolution of their conflicts. There were moments when I had to remind myself that these were fictional characters, not real people. Perhaps it was the power of their stories, the reminder that less than 50 years ago what they were experiencing was part of our historical record, but Stockett’s characters came alive for me. I felt their fears, their joys, their hurts and triumphs. There are very few books which follow me into my dreams – but The Help was one of these. I went to sleep thinking of the book, and woke up wondering what would happen next in the story.

Kathryn Stockett has written an important novel about what it means to be human regardless of the color of one’s skin. Sensitive, disturbing, and ultimately hopeful, The Help is a must read book.

Highly recommended.


Please follow and like the blue thistle


Skip to comment form

  1. I keep hearing good things about this novel. Sounds like something I should keep my eyes open for.

    • Jenny on September 7, 2009 at 09:37

    I have heard a lot about this book – I am often reluctant to pick up books about race in the South, because I find it terribly upsetting (I know this sounds idiotic, but I got so nauseated when I was reading Beloved that I couldn’t eat the whole rest of that day). But The Help sounds so good that it’s tempting me anyway.

    • diane on September 7, 2009 at 09:46

    Beautiful review Wendy! It is my favorite book so far for 2009.

    BTW: Congrats on your nomination; well deserved!

  2. A friend just told me her book group is reading THE HELP for October; I must get to it, reviews have been fantastic!

    Congratulations on your BBAW nomination for Best Literary Fiction Review blog … very exciting!!

    • Kathy on September 7, 2009 at 12:02

    I’m really looking forward to reading this book since I lived in Mississippi in 1962. I don’t think I’ve read a bad review about this one.

  3. Sounds fantastic! This is going into my TBR pile.

  4. Great review – I am dying to read this book! And congratulations on your BBAW nomination for Best Literary Fiction Review blog!!! (Still disappointed you didn’t get a special nomination for cutest great big puppy….)

    • Staci on September 7, 2009 at 16:33

    I checked this out from my library but never got to read this one. I plan on reading it during my Christmas break. Beautiful review!

    • Rachel on September 7, 2009 at 17:09

    I remember seeing this in the Books-a-Million monthly. It sounds really good. It interesting hearing about that era which I don’t understand at all and most the time want jump into the book and start beating on mean racial people. Great review!

    • JoAnn on September 7, 2009 at 17:49

    I listened to The Help, and it’s my favorite audiobook so far this year!

  5. Great review, Wendy. I enjoyed reliving some of those scenes and wish I had the time to read the book a second time. Oh, it was sooooo good! It may very well be my #1 pick of 2009. I honestly don’t know of any other book that has wowed me as much as this one did.

    • Nicola on September 8, 2009 at 03:22

    This sounds really great!! I’m really glad you started with a quote too. I couldn’t have been more wrong about this book as I’ve skipped a lot of reviews of this because the title and cover design made me think it was a New Agey book like “The Secret” but as soon as I saw “Miss Skeeter” I knew something Southern was happening here. And now I get it. The Help actually means the “help”!

    • Beth F on September 8, 2009 at 04:24

    Congrats on your BBAW nomination!!

    I have been wanting to read this one for a few months. I just know that I’ll love it, and this is why: “explores parenting, moral values, the many faces of racism, women’s friendships, and the power of joining our voices in a common cause.”

    I have heard that the audio is fabulous and because I’m a big audiobook fan, I suspect that audio is the route I’ll pick.

    • Lisa on September 8, 2009 at 21:09

    These really were some of the greatest characters of the year. I’m pushing for my book club to read it–there is so much to discuss.

    • JULIE on September 9, 2009 at 09:49

    Our book club is today. We all read The Help. I loved this book. I graduated from college in 1962 so the history was alive. I am looking forward to our discussion today. I just hope the hostess does not serve “the Pie” for dessert.

    • Wendy on September 9, 2009 at 10:43

    Serena: It is a wonderful book – will be one of my favs for 2009.

    Jenny: I haven’t read Beloved (yet), but I think this book is very different from that one. The characters in The Help are so wonderful. I’d recommend you try it 🙂

    Diane: THANK YOU! It is also one of my favs for 2009 too 🙂

    Dawn: Thanks for the congratulations 🙂 Yes, The Help is getting fantastic reviews and (in my opinion) they are well-deserved. I think this will be one of the most talked about books in 2009.

    Kathy: With your history/insight, I think you’d find this book a great read.

    Amy: I’ll look forward to hearing what you think of it!

    Rhapsody: *laughing* about the big puppy nomination 🙂 Thanks for the congratulations! With regard to this book – yes, you should read it!!!

    Staci: Thanks – I’ll look forward to reading your review!

    Rachel: This is really good historical fiction … the characters are great. And yes, you may find yourself a little angry at some of them 🙂

    JoAnn: I bet this was a fun book to listen to.

    • Wendy on September 9, 2009 at 10:46

    Les: It is very memorable, isn’t it? I loved it. It will be in the running for my favorite of 2009 for sure.

    Nicola: *laughs* It is not even close to being like The Secret!!! Fantastic book – I hope you’ll read it 🙂

    Beth: THANK YOU for the congrats! I think this would be a terrific book on audio…I will definitely look forward to reading your thoughts!

    Lisa: I read it for an online book group…and it has generated some really good conversation.

    Julie: ROTFLMAO!!! You definitely do NOT want that pie for dessert!! Have a great discussion 🙂

    • Tara on September 10, 2009 at 07:41

    Wonderful review- I’m so glad you liked this! I loved it myself.

  6. This book has been at the top of the top of the top of my wish list. I have an Amazon card staring at me…. I think I need to make a purchase. 🙂

  7. Hi –

    I found your blog through the links at the BBAW awards page. Looks like we enjoy the same types of books.

    I’ve heard some good things about this book, and I enjoyed your review. I especially like the way you included several quotes from the book (I like to do that, too) and described the 3 main characters. I’ll have to add this one to my never-ending want-to-read list! Thanks for the review – I’m going to take a look at your review for People of the Book also – I just finished that one this week for my book group and loved it! I’ve been sick this week but will post a review of it my own blog next week.


  8. I just bought this one last week, so I’m really glad to see it’s as good as everyone says. Thanks for the review!

    • Lisa on September 12, 2009 at 18:27

    I finally got my review of this book up here: and linked to your review.

    • Wendy on September 15, 2009 at 05:50

    Tara: It was such a great read…glad to hear you felt the same.

    Sheila: YES, definitely a must read! I’ll look forward to hearing what you think!

    Sue: Thank you for stopping by! I will go visit you today 🙂 I love finding new bloggers who like the same books I do!!

    Swapna: Thanks! Will look forward to reading your thoughts!

    Lisa: You wrote a great review of this one…thanks for the link to mine 🙂

    • Teddy on September 16, 2009 at 12:49

    I knew that you would love this one!

    • Care on September 23, 2009 at 06:21

    Terrific review. I just finished this and loved it.

    • Wendy on September 26, 2009 at 07:04

    Teddy: *laughs* How did you know?!?!?!?

    Care: Thanks – glad you also enjoyed the book!

    • Susanne on October 15, 2010 at 20:12

    Wendy…what a great review!!!…you echoed my thoughts!…I too felt like these women were so were drawn…that I knew them and thought about them!
    Yes, one of the top 10 for last year!

    Our F2F group just loved this book!
    It wouldn’t have been so well received in one of my on-line groups (as you might intuit.)

    Hope that you are doing well and that your sister is healing….

    • Wendy on January 6, 2011 at 06:59

    Susanne: Sorry it took me so long to respond to your comment (I was back east for the entire autumn). Glad you and I shared the same opinion on this one…and hope all is well with you. Paula is getting through the chemo…she is a strong woman!

Comments have been disabled.

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)