This review is doubling as a school assignment
Official Summary: Aibileen is a black maid in 1962 Jackson, Mississippi, who's always taken orders quietly, but lately she's unable to hold her bitterness back. Her friend Minny has never held her tongue but now must somehow keep secrets about her employer that leave her speechless. White socialite Skeeter just graduated college. She's full of ambition, but without a husband, she's considered a failure. Together, these seemingly different women join together to write a tell-all book about work as a black maid in the South, that could forever alter their destinies and the life of a small town...
My Summary: The Help is a beautifully written, inspirational novel that follows three different women’s point of view during the Civil Rights era. Aibileen, a house maid raising her seventeenth white baby, Minny, also a maid, that is always running into trouble with her sassy comments, and Skeeter, a twenty two white woman who dreams only to become a writer.
As a child, Skeeter was practically raised by her house maid, Constantine. Though she left during her college years and she does not know the reason behind her disappearance, Skeeter has always held more respect for the Colored people than that of her friends. One day, Skeeter asks Aibileen if she ever wished she could change things. This question eventually led to the Help, a compilation of Black house maid’s experiences working for white families. It is a risky move, but Skeeter, Aibileen, and Minny are all willing to risk it in order to get their views and experiences out into the world during one of the most monumental times in all of history.
Theme: While there are a lot of obvious themes, such as racial injustice and gender roles, what I most learned from The Help was that sometimes risks need to be taken for the greater good. And on a more personal level, that people have feelings and they need to be treated as such. Aibileen and Minny were putting a lot on the line by giving Skeeter their stories - at this time in history, colored people were being beat or even killed for miniscule mistakes such as accidentally walking into a Whites Only building. They were paid less than minimum wage, accused of carrying non existent diseases, and at times, treated like they were nothing more than scum. Yet they agreed to help Skeeter because they knew it could make a difference, a difference that had to be made.
But it wasn’t only dangerous for Aibileen and Minny, but for Skeeter as well. Being white, she was mostly protected from physical harm, but not so much social. While writing Help, Skeeter lost the majority of her friends and took a major fall on the social ladder. When the end of the book was being written, she knew that she was almost in as much trouble as her colored friends in the sense of being harassed and thrown into jail. But Skeeter wanted to do something for a better future just as much as Aibileen and Minny did.
A song that I thought closely related to The Help was Fight Song by Rachel Platten. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4UqfrH74wc0) because as the song says, Skeeter, Aibileen, and Minny only had one match, but with it they could make an explosion. The song makes me think of looking for a better tomorrow for yourself and making it a reality, which is exactly what these three women did by committing to writing Help. It was risky, and it was nerve wracking, but they wanted to show that they still had fight left in them and they weren’t going to succumb to the Whites and their cruel, unjust treatment.
In the end, The Help was one of the most inspirational and rewarding books that I have ever had the pleasure of reading. The story was complex and beautiful, as were the characters. One of the most impressive aspects of this book for me was that though there were more main characters than I am used to reading, each character was very individual and distinct. The characters kept the suspense going until the very last minute, where I barely held myself back from crying. While not everything was resolved on the outside, all characters found their internal peace, and that was what made this book for me. Something they had been so reluctant to start had turned into their greatest achievement, and the thing that revived them and made them realize, I deserve better than this. They crossed a seemingly uncrossable line that eventually led to their own personal finish line. Or, to say it better, a new, better starting line.
If you have not read The Help, I greatly encourage you to do so. I give it a rating of five stars.