Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter 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, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. 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.
Wow! I flew through this book. It is a large book, over 450 pages, but it flows so well, and I was so engrossed in the story, that I read it in three days. The characters aren't only well written, they are all the type of character that linger with you after the end of the story. Once I finished The Help I actually waited until the next day to start another book because I wasn't ready to walk away from them quite yet.
One thing that I couldn't decide if I liked or not was that the book was written in first person, but the narrator changed every few chapters. In one way, I really liked it because it gave you more insight into each of the characters. On the other hand, it always took me a little while to get into the rhythm of the new narrator. The maid's portions are also written as they would speak, and at times I found this to be a little overdone.
All in all, I thought this was a very impressive debut. The characters emotions really came through, and I felt their anger, fear and hope right along with them. 4.5 stars
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