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I first picked up The Help by Kathryn Stockett when my friend, Amy from Amy Buckle’s Bookshelf, recommended it to me. But it was so different to the usual books that I read that I struggled to get into it and after reading just a few chapters, I gave up and popped it back on my bookshelf. And I nearly didn’t go back to it. Which, in hindsight, would have been an awful decision because this is one book that definitely deserved a second chance and I can’t really believe I didn’t fall in love with the first time round.
Set in Jackson, Missisippi in the 1960s, The Help is told from the first person perspectives of three women; Aibileen Clark a black maid looking after her “seventeenth white child”, Minny Jackson, a black maid with strong opinions that often land her in trouble (and without a job) and Eugenia Phelan, otherwise known as Skeeter, a white graduate who has strikingly different views to those of her family and friends. Together, they form an unlikely trio, who come together to risk everything they have and write a book focused on telling the truth about what it is like to be a black maid in the South.
“All I'm saying is, kindness don't have no boundaries.”
A moving novel, it will not only open your eyes to the struggles that the coloured community underwent on a daily basis not that long ago, but it will also make you laugh, cry and cheer throughout. At times, events ring a little too close to home and the book serves not only as an insight into what life was like in the 60s but also as a reminder that even today, we still have a long way to go in equality as a whole.
Not to mention that it is also full to the brim with inspirational quotes that would do nicely as prints hanging from your wall as a daily reminder. Quotes such as “Write about what disturbs you, particularly if it bothers no one else” and “We are just two people. Not that much separates us. Not nearly as much as I'd thought” are among my favourites but the entire book is chock full of other beautiful lines. In all honesty, I think you would find it hard to read Stockett's novel without finding that at least one of the lines strikes a chord and hangs in your mind long after you have turned the page.
You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”
Overall? I would say that The Help is an all-round brilliant novel. Stockett merges fact with fiction and brings it all together as a moving, informative and entirely unforgettable story. Focused on a piece of history that we should all be more aware of, it’s well worth grabbing yourself a copy and it’s a book that I am happy to recommend on to others. Not to mention one that I’m immensely glad I gave a second chance.
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