The Help by Kathryn Stockett
I have been meaning to read this book for a really long time and finally got around to it. This book has been raved about by quite a few people that I know and was eventually made in to a movie.
The story is from the perspective of three different women in Jackson, Mississippi in the 1960's:
- Aibileen Clark is a African-American maid for the white Leefolt family. Elizabeth Leefolt is heavily involved in the community and follows the orders of her influential friend, Hilly Holbrook. Aibileen also spends her day with the Leefolt's daughter, Mae Mobley, and does her best to be a positive influence on Mae Mobely due to her mother's constant criticism of the young girl.
- Minny Jackson is also an African-American maid for a white couple. Her employer is Celia Foote, who is trying to get her foot in the door of the society women, but since she is a wee bit naive to etiquette and has married Hilly Holbrooks' ex-boyfriend, the society women are ignoring her. Minny has a hard time keeping her mouth shut and has been fired more than a few times for saying what she thinks.
- Skeeter Phelan is a young white, college graduated who is home and trying to fit in with her old friends who are all married and have children now. Her maid growing up, Constantine, was mysteriously no longer employed by her parents when she returned and she was never able to get the full story of what happened or where she went. Troubled by the way her friends treat their maids and aspiring to be a writer, Skeeter convinces Aibileen and Minny to help her find other maids to anonymously tell their stories, both good and bad, for a book titled, The Help.
This book was fantastic. It captured the feeling of that town and the tensions very well and made me feel like I understood what it was like to be a member of that society. I found it easy to relate with Skeeter (and not just because we both have frizzy, curly hair that everyone else thinks they know how to tame). The story is not sugar coated and doesn't always go the way the reader might hope it would. It is true to its plot and doesn't try to just end on happy notes.
I highly recommend it and it's movie counter-part.