The Help: a Unanimous Favorite Read of the Raytown Staff
August 18, 2010
The New York Times bestseller for 60 weeks, The Help by Kathryn Stockett, was chosen as a “best seller” among Raytown staff as well. In Jackson, Mississippi, 1962, Eugenia Skeeter Phelan is just home from college, and, anxious to become a writer. She begins to collect stories of three extraordinary black women who talk about their lives of abuse and heartbreak, as they are trusted to raise white children but not “cross the line”. They are determined to start a movement of their own to change the way women—blacks and whites, mothers, daughters, friends—view one another. …..Susan
Here are some of the comments Raytown staff shared:
I was intrigued simply by the attitude of wealthy whites toward poor blacks in a not-so-long-ago era. I loved the boldness in the characters...the journalist who wanted to tell the story, the black woman who wanted to help her, and the white woman who stood on the outside of other white women and did not give in to attitudes/judgments just to be accepted. To me, The Help, not only referred to the actual black women as "the help" in white people's homes, but also "the help" the black women gave to the journalist; their willingness to risk everything to get their story out! Sadly, this is true history, and that others have left a bad mark on those who do not share the same negative attitude about other races/cultures. ….. Kim
I loved the 1960’s southern setting and I identified with some of the young women as they planned and prepared for social events in their homes. I remember loving to look at china, sterling silver patterns, and dream the young woman’s dream of having my own home. The mid-sixties was a changing time in our country and it was my time to grow into womanhood. I admire and respect the strong characters in the book who were willing to risk change at such a high cost, even though I never would have been so brave. I am, however, polishing my silver again. ….. Amy
Yes, I loved The Help, as you know. I hosted a luncheon for fourteen women. We talked about the characters in the book and how faith impacted Aibileen's life. I "tried" to make the chocolate pie of Kathryn Stockett's. I failed twice, so I made another mystery pie, Paula Deen's son's caramel cake. Awesome! And, yes, I found it in a cookbook from the library. ….. Mary
The character development of The Help is the primary aspect that made it difficult for me to put down this book. Several of the characters were very different in temperament and background, but I felt like I walked in their shoes and saw with their eyes. I found myself anticipating the response or actions the characters might take, and at times, I was surprised to discover some new aspect of who they were. The sense of time and place was also quite strong, and powerful enough to evoke my own memories of the seasons and of the era. And finally, I found myself eager to discuss this book with others who had read it to find their impressions and share my own; something not many novels inspire me to do. The Help is now on the top of my favorites list. ….. Anna
I loved this book because it brought back memories of my childhood. My family hired Louisa as our "help". She either rode the bus to our house, or was dropped off by her husband. She always wore her white uniform. My five siblings and I just loved her. She was exactly like the character, Aibileen, in the book. She cleaned very well. (My mom wouldn't put up with someone who swept the dirt under the rugs!) Still, Louisa always had time for all of us. I didn't even realize she was "the help" until I was older. She was just our Louisa. I always like to try to put myself in the other person's shoes for a better understanding of where they are coming from. This book jolted me with awareness of what it was like to be on the other side of my segregated 1950's era childhood. ….. Julie
Even though I had done some previous reading on the topic, I was, nevertheless, impressed with the author's ability to drive home the severity of the racial tensions in this era. I came to a new understanding of how extremely difficult (impossible) it was for these black women to even speak-up and voice their concerns. They were truly imprisoned in their current job. Their employers formed a social network that quickly destroyed any hope of subsequent jobs if they ever found themselves on the "bad side" of their employer.
What came across to me is that a person's love for others has nothing to do with the color of their skin or family background.
I certainly found the book to be enjoyable, highly readable, witty, and well-paced. Many have told me they could not put the book down and didn't want the book to end. I agree. And not only women enjoy this book. I personally know several men who read this book secretly in their man cave. ….. Tom
I listened to the audiobook of The Help. The Southern accents, attitudes, and interactions of the characters made the book come “alive”. I got totally absorbed in each of the character’s lives. It was really easy to develop great empathy for them and also, admiration for taking the extraordinary risk of speaking up about their lives during this turbulent time. ….. Susan