I decided to buy a copy of The Help from Amazon because I was in between book club books and felt this was an opportune time to catch up on light summer reading. What was I thinking? I should have known better, when reading a book whose major theme is segregation.
The story follows three women in 1962 who get together to interview black maids working in white households. Two of the women, Alileen and Minny are African Americans, and they work for women from two completely different worlds. As the book progresses, they take turn telling about their past and present lives, along with Skeeter, a young educated white women recently back from college who's living with her parents on their "plantation". She's the instigator of the interviews and is more interested in telling this story than looking for a husband, like her mother expects.
At the end of the book, Skeeter talks to one of the white women who constantly gets pushed around by the Junior League. And she realizes that both white and black women "are just two people. Not much that separates us. Not nearly as much as I thought.'"
Kathryn Stockett, the author of The Help, tells us that the quotation above is a “prized” phrase from the book. And I've read she was unsure of taking on the voice of African American women. I think she did a wonderful job, though I didn't like the southern dialect she used for them. It was something I overlooked...
The story is both funny and sad at the same time. Stockett touched on other themes than just discrimination in the South, where she grew up. She writes about sexual tensions in America in the early 60s and social climbing among women. I would recommend The Help to both women or men, and look forward to seeing the movie in the near future.