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Book Review: "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett

By Marie Lahar
On March 6, 2012

"The Help" takes the reader back in time to feel the heartwarming story as if they were there. Kathryn Stockett knows how to keep the book light hearted even with the heavy topic of segregation in the 60s. Although times are different, it still gives the reader a strong sense of what it would have been like to live in such a time.

The reader gets a look into the struggles the main characters face of being African American maids in white America.

The main characters, Skeeter and Aibileen, do the unthinkable for this time period and collaborate to write a book on the African American maids of the time. Skeeter, a young white female who recently graduated from college wants to be a writer, while her parents want her to marry and do "lady-like" things.

When Aibileen, an elderly African American maid lost her son she was devastated because he was all she had. Eventually she fights her inner demons and works for less than minimum wage, just grateful to have a job.

Although her aspirations may seem small, some of the white characters were opposed to it. Some of these characters were even offended to have to use the same bathroom as an African American did, and this is just the start of the prejudice that occurs throughout the novel. Some of the richer characters would build a separate bathroom of poor quality for their maids because, according to them, African American's carried diseases and shouldn't share toilets with a white person. To further that, antagonist, Hilly Holbrook wanted to pass a state law that would protect white individuals from these diseases, calling it a Sanitation Act.

On a daily basis these rich white folk, who looked down upon their maids, would ignore them, degrade them and yell at them in front of family and friends, and this was a natural way of life. However, when Skeeter and Aibileen work together to write a book on the topic of being an African American maid, their town gets shaken up and things will never be the same.

This book is easy to read, and hard to put down. Swapping between character's perspectives helped the reader understand the characters more and have a deeper emotional tie to them. The book, because of its topic and the deep connection the reader forms with the characters, can be a tear jerker at times.

Stockett's book is quite the read, something special. I often times will start a book but can't stay focused and will stop reading, but with "The Help," I simply couldn't put it down. I fell in love with the characters, felt their pain and wished I could do something about it. Although the topic of racial segregation is not something I've done a lot of reading on, I've found it to be inspiring. This book made me take a look at my own life and remind myself of how much I have to be grateful for.

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