Book Reviews: The Help

The HelpThe Help by Kathryn Stockett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I started reading The Help on my brand new Kindle on Christmas afternoon and finished it the next morning. I enjoyed it, I really did, but I feel like there’s an unsettling kind of unevenness to it. One second it’s lighthearted and witty, the next it’s serious and shocking. I finally decided what The Help reminds me of- it’s like Hairspray for grownups.

I love the character of Skeeter. I feel like a lot of the unevenness of the story has to do with Skeeter’s awakening- she has been in her pretty little bubble for so long and the illusion is just beginning to shatter for her, so the story bounces from the funny moments to serious along with her growth as a character.

I do wish there was more resolution- an epilogue that gives the final explanation on what happened to everyone. I don’t think the book merits or needs a sequel, but I want to know how Aibileen’s writing career went, if Minny really left Leroy, if Skeeter made it successfully in New York- and if she ever revealed that she wrote the book.

The most interesting party of reading the book, however, was talking to my two grandmothers-in-law afterwards. My husband and I were having dinner with the family, and they asked me about my Kindle, and when I told them I’d read The Help, they immediately told me how much they loved it, especially since that was their era. My sweet paternal grandmother-in-law said that when she was a young wife and mother in Tennessee, she actually had help- a woman who would come some afternoons to clean and watch the kids while she ran errands. “Now, I never mistreated anyone or was cruel, but it just made me realize…I never knew what was going on at home or what she was going through,” she told me. “She was just the help.” It was sort of mind-boggling to hear that- that at one point the world really was like it was in The Help, that it’s not merely made up for a work of poignant historical fiction.

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