The Help came out in 2009 and has slowly grown into its popularity. It’s the story of women and their maids in Jackson, Mississippi in the 1960’s. The book is written in three voices; Abileen Clark and Minny Jackson who are maids, and Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan, who was raised by a maid.
Skeeter’s group of friends are young 20-something white women who all have maids of their own. But Skeeter realizes that she has less and less in common with them as she learns about their attitudes towards their maids. While Skeeter is haunted by loving memories of her childhood maid who disappeared without a word, her friends treat their maids like slaves, even insisting on having separate “colored” bathrooms” installed on their property for the help.
When I read the book, I hadn’t heard much about it so I had no expectations. The story involves a lot of different characters who all have their own secrets, stories, and opinions. It kept me reading and was interesting. I think, however, had I heard all the hype about it, I might have been disappointed. I know books that deal with things like racism, stereotypes, and societal classes have the potential to garner a lot of attention. But I can’t help but think that this is the only reason this book is gettting so much press. The story is good but beyond the social issues, it doesn’t strike me as any more well written than other books I’ve read. It would be interesting to see if Stockett’s next book gets as much attention.