Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Help

Synopsis from the Web:
Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step.

Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.

Minny, Aibileen's best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody's business, but she can't mind her tongue, so she's lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.

Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.

My review:
I really like The Help (of course, or it wouldn't be on here). I'm only just realizing how much I enjoy historical fiction. I found this insightful, touching, and liberating. It made me grateful for the good that is out there, and sad for the way we often dehumanize and even vilify people who are different from us. The theme of personal discovery and empowerment is so prevalent in books today. I once heard an author describe it as the Star Wars moments ("Luke, the power is in you"). This book is a twist on that same theme.