“The Help” by Kathryn Stockett | Book Review

Book Review | Rating – 3/5 stars | Genre – Historical fiction

Once again I’m reviewing a book that I was inspired to read by the love of the film that proceeded it, I really need to up my game on reading the books before the movie. Anyway, the small story of how I came across this book (there is always a story!). I found the copy I now own in a small charity shop in Nottingham run by the most adorable old women – it was also nice to know that the money I was spending was being funnelled to a charity that would help improve literary programmes in the city. Now, over to the review…

Jackson, Mississippi, 1962. Where black maids raise white children, but aren’t trusted not to steal the silver…There’s Aibileen, raising her seventeenth white child and nursing the hurt caused by her own son’s tragic death; Minny, whose cooking is nearly as sassy as her tongue; and white Miss Skeeter, home from college, who wants to know why her beloved maid has disappeared. Skeeter, Aibileen and Minny. No one would believe they’d be friends; fewer still would tolerate it. But as each woman finds the courage to cross boundaries, they come to depend and rely upon one another. Each is in search of a truth. And together they have an extraordinary story to tell. (Check it out here)

What did I think?

I think I’ve typed this part out a few times, trying to figure out the best way to show my opinions of this book. I didn’t find myself enjoying the book in parts. However, it was quite obvious where some of the more problematic moments of the film came from, as well as really showcasing the characters as two-dimensional rather than the more fleshed out adaptions in the movie.

As I was going through the book I found myself disliking pretty much all the characters more and more. Not that they come off any better in the movie, but the book makes them all seem very outright racist with no real understanding as to why people were like that at the time.

Reasons to read… The Help

  • Humorous moments: There are moments scattered throughout the book that are genuinely very funny to read. I’m glad that these are always moments where certain characters get what they deserved, its always pleasing to see revenge dealt to those that definitely had it coming to them.
  • Interesting conversation starter: As frustratingly two-dimensional some of the topics are presented, the book does still manage to ignite some interesting debates around the treatment of African-American people at the time. It also parallels with similar issues of racism that are still very much present nowadays.

At the end of the day…

Would I read this book again? Probably not. It was a rather disappointing result, having found entertainment from the movie for many years. It is worth reading for those that haven’t given it a go yet, maybe it’ll be more worth the read for other people.

There are always reasons to read a book like this. As I’ve said above, the book does pull out some interesting topics of conversation, I just never felt that they were given the treatment that they could’ve, and massively missed the mark with a lot of the characters in the book.


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