I got a bookmarker announcing this book quite a while ago, but the title was in Spanish and it was not really appealing (something like Maids and Ladies) and the cover did not help (a dish full of cookies). But after some research I came across the following cover and the original tittle and I could not help but feel instantely attracted to the book.
Set in the 1950’s Jackson, Mississippi, The Help deals with the lives of three very different women (Aibileen, Minny, and Skeeter ) at a time when changes were threatening the “old values” people thought, ruled the world. However, Jackson does not seem able to change as the African-American help keeps raising most of the white children while, ironically, are despised by their employers for the colour of their skin.
Abileen is the oldest one, a black nanny who has raised most the youths of the town and who, ironically, lost her only child a few years ago.
Minny is a middle-age black cooker who usually loses her job because of her big mouth, despite having four children (and an abusing husband) to take care of.
Skeeter is a while young girl, the daughter of a planter, who comes back from university with the only desire to become a journalist but her mother’s plans for her have nothing to do with a professional future. When she realises that the black nanny who brought her up is gone and no one tells her where to or why, she starts investigating and befriending some of the town’s nannies.
With such a terrible background, Kathryn Stockett develops three main and very well- built characters, three strong and independent women that will try to change their little town. Meanwhile, they face all kind of critics, gossip and rejections from their neighbours both black and white.
In my opinion, this is a great book (the first one that made me cry) and it deserves more attention from both the general public and the critics. Not only does it deal with a very important issue of the American history, with constant references to Martin L. King and President Kennedy, but it also reminds the reader of the important role our will plays in the changes to come. So, I cannot imagine why it got rejected by so many pusblishers until last year!