The Help is Kathryn Stockett’s debut novel and it has received great critical acclaim. It was chosen by the editors at Audible.com as the Audio Book of the Year for 2009. It was also voted the year’s Customer Favorite. Set in Jackson, Mississippi during the turbulent years of the early 1960′s, the story explores race relations and life in the American South from a very personal viewpoint.
The Main Body:
When Miss Skeeter returns to her family’s cotton farm near Jackson after graduating from Ole Miss, she is proud of her newly acquired degree. But her mother would be much more impressed if she had acquired an engagement ring, or a least a boyfriend. She is devastated to discover that Constantine, the maid who cared for her throughout her youth has disappeared, and she cannot get any information about where she might have gone.
While looking for a way to use her journalism degree, she takes a job writing a “household hint” column for the local paper. But since domestic chores have never been her strong suit, she consults her high school classmate’s maid and nanny Aibileen for advice. She is also hoping that Aibee can shed some light on the whereabouts of Constantine. As she gets to know the maid better, and meets her opinionated friend Minny, Skeeter realizes that she has never fully understood the world she was raised in.
The three women decide to take on a project that will rattle the deeply held traditions of their small community to the core. Working together, they discover reservoirs of strength they didn’t know they had, and they form a lasting bond against all odds.
Each chapter of the book is written from the viewpoint of one of the three principal characters. Kathryn Stockett, a Jackson native, manages to capture each of their voices with an accuracy and realism that is remarkable. As their lives intermingle, secrets are divulged and tensions build until the satisfying conclusion is reached.
Three talented actresses portray the women of The Help. Sassy Minny (Octavia Spencer) is incorrigible, but loveable, Aibileen’s (Bahni Turpin) nurturing personality comes shining through, and Skeeter (Jenna Lamia) matures as the story unfolds in a most believable way.
Audio fans that are wary of committing 18 hours of listening time to one novel need not worry. The time flies by illustrating why this book has become a favorite of editors and listeners alike