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Book of The Week #14 The Help

The Help*
by Kathryn Stockett
     The Help is the story of a young woman, Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan, recently graduated from Mississippi State University with a degree in Journalism, whose mother is desperate to see her married off. As Skeeter spends time at her high school girlfriends' homes playing bridge and planning various social events, she notices the way the black help is mistreated. When her best friend Hilly starts the "Hilly Holbrook's Bathroom Sanitation Initiative" Skeeter feels like things are really getting out of hand. After obtaining a job at the newspaper office writing the "Ms. Myrna" cleaning advice column, Skeeter, having never done housework in her life, turns to her friend Elizabeth's maid Aibileen for help in writing the column as well as a much bigger project.
     The book is told from the point of view of three different characters; maids Aibileen and Minny, and the young, single Ms. Skeeter. You'll read along as Aibileen deals with raising white children who will grow to treat her the same way their parents do, Minny tries to hold her tongue in order to keep her job (yet doesn't quite succeed) and Skeeter works to make her dreams come true. The risks they take are bold and the stakes are high, but they do it for a worthy cause.
    I feel like The Help is another one of those books that really need no introduction. Most everyone is familiar with the book and/or the film adaptation. It's a modern classic that seems as though it will be passed down from generation to generation. I wouldn't be surprised if classrooms around the country started assigning students to read and write reports on the book in line with other classics such as To Kill A Mockingbird, if they haven't already. It deals with important ethical issues, reminding us of a darker time in our country's history that is often glamorized.
    This is one the most well written books I've ever read. Ms. Stockett possesses an incredible talent. I felt like I could really hear all of the characters saying their lines in their own respective voices. The story flowed seamlessly from the first to the last page and I didn't want to put it down. This book is a definite page turner.
    It may sound somewhat cliché to say, but my favorite character in the book is Aibileen. You'll admire Skeeter for her courage and laugh at Minny with her spunk, but Aibileen is the best. She's the kind of person you root for, and at the end of a bad day you just want to curl up in her lap and let her tell you "you is kind, you is smart, you is important."
   There is cursing in the book and some inappropriate language, and normally that turns me off from a book. But the cursing is spread out and there isn't an F-bomb in each sentence (if I remember correctly, there are no F-bombs in the book at all, thank goodness) and the story is so good that I can forgive it. Though I will say that parents need to be left to decide whether or not their teens are ready for a book like this.
   All in all, The Help is a story of racism, ignorance and ultimately triumph. It will cause to you lose faith in humanity, and then it will help you restore it.

I give The Help a 5 out of 5.

*Since I write young adult novels, I've decided to add a mark to specify a more mature novel. Most books I feature are Christian (though some are not), but some are intended for an older audience. So if you're under 18, consult your parents before reading these picks.

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