THE HELP by author Kathleen Stockett tells the story of a group of black maids working for white families before the term Civil Rights was ever born. Before the race riots. On the cusp of when the southern part of our country erupted into a period of hate that spread across the nation.
As I moved into the story of the complicated lives of these women, I could taste their joy and smell their fear emanating from the pages. I felt their heartbeats. Their unease became mine. At times, I felt the need to look over my shoulder.
This book is much more than fiction. It’s the many faceted tale of what really went on in the South. It was a time when black children were turned away from white schools, while their black mothers were at the homes of those white children baking bread for their supper and rocking their little sisters and brothers.
At the time, I was growing up in West Virginia, sitting happily in the safety of my living room watching bandstand with Dick Clark.
Until the news started breaking in on my shows, telling stories of unfathomable events - only then did I sit up and take notice. Blacks were being stopped from crossing a certain barrier while white people stood on the other side with clubs and rocks. I watched in horror as black men and women were dragged through the streets, screaming and crying, as policemen hit them with nightsticks. Protecting territory meant for white folk only: public schools, public pools, public libraries, public restrooms. Public? Not really.
These whites were not just politicians but included the rich and poor. The common thought was that “they” controlled the South. They demanded two lists of rules. One for whites. One for blacks.
I realized early on, I had nothing in common with these white people except the color of my skin.
Reading this book brought back those memories and drove home the fact that we humans can survive terrible adversity if we can keep hope alive. And those women, did they ever have hope!
I will not soon forget THE HELP. The story made me determined to be a better person. To help make the world a better place, to give a kind word, a helping hand, be more accepting of the differences in our world today.
I must thank Kathleen Stockett for letting the words of Miss Skeeter, Aibileen, Minny and the other characters pour from her veins onto the page for us to share.

I know this essay doesn’t come anywhere near being a proper review of this many layered novel. This is simply what I felt about it.


  1. I thought it was a great review! I read this book last year and loved it. I'm so pleased it's coming out in movie form..hopefully a good movie! When I was reading it during a break at work, a girl I work with kept looking at the author's name..she said she knew a girl by that name that roomed with her sister in college..A phone call confirmed it was the same gal..small world huh? Glad you enjoyed the book as much as I did!

  2. I appreciate what you have to say here. I did not live in the South during this time, but I remember it well. I think your review of the book is great. Reading "The Help" also conjured up many memories of that time for me also.

    I think the message of the book is one that must be retold. There were many courageous people during this time who took on the system and made a difference.

  3. I think this was an honest and well written review. I too was reminded again of that awful period of history when I read it, and I thought it was a difficult book to read at times. Mostly because I was worried about what horrible consequences would befall the main character. But, that said, I loved the book when my book group read it awhile ago. We're going as a group to see the movie in August.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and memories.

  4. I thought it was a good review, Barbara. I have never read the book. When I was growing up in the country in WV, I don't really remember a lot about the Civil Rights movement, but learned a lot about it later on when I was an adult. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I've never read this book, but would like too. I'll look forward to the movie form. Sometimes the movie doesn't do the book justice though..Susie

  6. I have this book sitting on my desk for me to read soon.

    When a book disturbs me, I know I'm taking something/learning from it.

    It sounds like a phenomenal book and I enjoyed your review.

    Have a great weekend.

  7. This sounds like a book well worth reading. Thank you for the terrific review. I lived in MD during those days, and though the black-white situation wasn't nearly as bad as in the deep south, bigotry and hurtful separations were still present, and insidious.

  8. I thought it was a great book, too. The movie is coming out the first part of August, and I can't wait to see it.

  9. What a heartfelt review, Barb. The Help is an incredible book, getting into the minds of people (the maids) who were so often just part of the background. Having been raised in a middle-class family on Long Island, I didn't know anyone who had a maid–-of any color. But I've spoken to women from the south whose familes did have black maids and they said the book made them cry.
    The Help also shows the constraints of being a woman, too, in the 50s and 60s. Just look at the pressure on Skeeter to "find a man and get married." Didn't we all feel that pressure?


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