Monday, February 9, 2009

Review: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

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

Order The Help


S. Krishna said...

I've heard really good things about this book - I need to add it to my TBR list! Thanks for the review.

Sandy Nawrot said...

I love books about the power of sisterhood. It makes me want to go out and climb a mountain or something. I will keep it on my radar when I am out on a book hunt. I love the cover too!

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I can't wait to read this one. Great review; so happy you enjoyed it!

Anonymous said...

Hey There! Wanted to let you know BEAT THE REAPER arrived today! Thanks for having such an awesome giveaway. :)

Melissa said...

S. Krishna and Diane - It was very well done. Definitely pick it up!

Sandy - The cover didn't actually do much for me, but it does go with the book.

J Kaye - I'm glad to hear it made it! Can't wait to see what you think of the audio.

Kaye said...

Hi, I just finished this book also and could not put it down. I thought the change in narrator was a good method as it really got you into the head of the maids and Skeeter. If only all debut novels were this good. Great review!

Zibilee said...

This book sounds really good! I'm glad you liked it and will have to keep my eyes open for it. Thanks!

Tara said...

I'm not reading your review b/c I'm reading this book right now - It's great!

Lori Lavender Luz said...

I reviewed this book and gave it high marks, too! Since we have this in common I should check out your other recommendations.

Thanks for entering our giveaway at All Thumbs Reviews. Check back next week to see if you win an earbud yo-yo.

Of course, we'd love to have you as a regular reader...:-)