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Book Review: THE HELP ~Kathryn Stockett

Here I am at book group again and this month our group read a history sharing novel called THE HELP.

It was published in 2009 and is the author’s first novel after working in the magazine industry for a period of time.

I like books that tell history through fiction and this book is about the maids who work for the white socialite women of Jackson, Mississippi during the turbulent 1960’s.

Ms Stockett’s characters are almost charactures which do not really move into the depth of the individual but this makes the story more dynamic and “real”.   The maids are not allowed to have opinions or voice, so the internal voices they share just provide the valuable insight that they are indeed humans and not robots.

It is a woman’s novel in that it once again shows that when people can communicate and interact – band together they can create change and bring to light oppression, prejudice and racism.

I believe the white women in this society were just acting out of their narrow boundaries and the huge expectations on them to create successful, powerful, husbands.   By having them live out their respective roles in the story, the reader is able to understand the depth of the stereotyping and the courage that it took to strive for change and human status.

The book is very easy to read and one can invest in the characters and identify.   The HELP were very busy raising the children in these homes and providing strong nurturance, food and cleanliness to keep the order operating at peak performance.

The book is timely as the US Congress struggles to accomplish anything, when these old school tactics are being used in a massive “stand off” against the citizens – control by the few and isolation of the many is always enslaving.

This book shares the lessons of history well and I would hope lots of students of American History would tuck it into their list to make the lessons real .

I am also studying Howard Zenn’s work:  The People’s History of the United States and this was a wonderful companion.

A good read.
I read this book on my KINDLE and KINDLE on my PC and iphone apps.
What are you reading or learning about right now?  Would you share your list with us here?

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Other books you might enjoy:
Merle’s Door
Hats Off to Two Wonderful World Changing Men
American Wife
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

9 Responses to “Book Review: THE HELP ~Kathryn Stockett”

  1. Hilary Says:

    Hi Patricia .. having been in South Africa in the 80s – it was accepted custom .. and if they hadn’t travelled, or come from another country … then who was to tell them otherwise that their (the white ladies’) behaviour was not correct. Some emancipation occurred through the centuries in different ways and it’s only recently that we will look at things and question areas or reasons why .. even now this isn’t always the case.

    In fact even now the community we ‘live in’ influence peoples’ thinking .. that’s one reason – we are here .. we can see openness and free thinking amongst our blogging friends.

    It’s an interesting scenario – and it’s great that you’re studying the subject, and that it’s come up in your reading group. I guess the maids took pride (motivation and passion) in their jobs, because that way it was easier – no recognition probably, but easier all round ….

    Emancipation or enlightenment in powerful people came along slowly .. in kings, landowners, industrialists – such as Arkwright I posted about recently, in the 1700s he built housing for his workers – and that was new .. but also employed a 7 year old child .. so it’s taking it’s time … as it does today …

    Enjoy your studies …. Hilary
    .-= Hilary´s last blog ..Rhinoceros chase – or how about a little rolling over with Hippopotami? =-.

  2. Talon Says:

    Sounds like an interesting book, Patricia. It’s seems to be human nature that one has to dominate and one has to submit whether for practical or financial or social reasons.
    .-= Talon´s last blog ..Look up…way way up… =-.

  3. Sara Says:

    Patricia — Thanks for this book review. I love books about history and will check this one out the next time I’m at the book store:~)
    .-= Sara´s last blog ..Picture Story: Revealed Secrets =-.

  4. Patricia Says:

    Hilary,
    This book was a great discussion starter for our group last night, and people were able to see how these historic stories have created some of the problems in our contemporary society. A novel can be a powerful way to understand history.

    Talon,
    We also talked about maybe we are reaching the “rats in the maze” syndrome, with people being so mean to each other these days??? This book was a great window on a specific society and how it effects today.

    Sara,
    We are all loving reading history through fiction and several of us wish were had learned this earlier in our lives.
    A good book and interesting read. Quite the discussion starter
    .-= Patricia´s last blog ..Book Review: THE HELP ~Kathryn Stockett =-.

  5. J.D. Meier Says:

    The People’s History of the United States actually sounds like an interesting title. What we don’t know comes back and bites us in the butt.

    The HELP sounds interesting too — I like how good character development can light up a story.

    I’m going through Sun Tzu for Execution — it’s a fast, fun read with insight.
    .-= J.D. Meier´s last blog ..10 Ways to Go from Good to Great =-.

  6. Jannie Funster Says:

    I gotta tell ya, the idea of a Kindle is starting to intrigue me more and more.

    The Help, very interesting title. Sounds very good. A movie some day, perhaps?

  7. Patricia Says:

    JD,
    I started reading the People’s History of the US after watching a netflix documentary about Howard Zinn a name I knew well in graduate school – fascinating fellow and recently on Bill Moyer’s Journal….calling for the voice of the citizen’s to join in with government – the missing link
    I added your book to my reading list – Thank you

    Jannie,
    I don’t know about a movie but it made the NY Times best seller list. My partner is reading Born to Run off my KINDLE PC app. while I am reading the next book on my Kindle Devise. and we can read TIME mag. on the iPhone …it is truly saving us money and getting my partner back to reading. Good brain exercise :)

    Good for the environment I really love it – that KINDLE of mine
    .-= Patricia´s last blog ..Book Review: THE HELP ~Kathryn Stockett =-.

  8. Evita Says:

    Hi Patricia

    I love book reviews! Thanks for sharing this one! Having recently just read a book about the 60’s I can so relate to how life was so different back then. It is so good we have come at least this far where we continue to shatter the boundaries that silence people. We all deserve a voice to speak our truth.

  9. Patricia Says:

    Evita,
    Glad you enjoyed this review, our group had a fabulous discussion of this book and it truly gave us voice and perspective