The Help – Kathryn Stockett

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The Help won book of the year at the recent BBAW awards, and I have seen so many rave reviews that I can no longer remember where I first heard about it.

The Help gives an insight into the complex relationship between white families and their black maids. Set in Jackson, Mississippi in the 1960s this book examines the difficulties faced on both sides, but also shows the love and trust shared between them.

This is a fantastic book and I can only add to the massive amount of praise that is already out there. The characters are all incredibly well drawn – I don’t think I’ve ever read a book in which so many people are portrayed so realistically. Each character has their own flaws, but it is the fact that we are able to read their thoughts so clearly that makes this book so special. The conflicting emotions each person experiences when dealing with the issues of racial segregation are sensitively handled and I feel that this book will become a classic in the same way that To Kill a Mockingbird did.

The author’s note at the end of the book helps to explain how Kathryn Stockett managed to create such a emotionally rich book – I loved discovering the fond memories she had of her own maid and her thoughts on writing the book. Kathryn Stockett is most proud of the following line, so I thought it appropriate to share here, as it is a great summary of the book.

Wasn’t that the point of the book? For women to realize, We are just two people. Not that much separates us. Not nearly as much as I’d thought.

I’m afraid I’m going to have to be very picky now – the book didn’t manage to hold my attention fully throughout, and although the emotions of the characters were very clear, it failed to move me. For these reasons I’m only going to give it 4.5 stars.  These are tiny criticism though – if you haven’t read this book yet, then you really should.

I highly recommend this book to everyone – it will be in my top 10 for 2009.

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Is The Help your favourite book of 2009?

What did you like about it most?


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45 Comments

  1. Aarti says:

    I have heard so much about this book! If I see it in the library or a used bookstore, I will be sure to snatch it up. Great review! As usual :-)

    1. Jackie says:

      Aarti, I hope that you manage to find a copy of this book soon – it really is as good as everyone says it is!

  2. Sandy says:

    This was my very first book read on my Kindle in May. I totally fell in love with the characters. Oh those maids were something! Just full of it, and I loved them for it. A friend of mind said the audio was absolutely amazing. You can just imagine the personalities coming through in the voices.

    1. Jackie says:

      Sandy, Those maids were all amazing characters – I can imagine their voices too! I’d heard it was an excellent audio book – it is tipped to win an audie next year!

  3. JoAnn says:

    This was an excellent audio book, too. It may well end up being my favorite audio of the year!

    1. Jackie says:

      JoAnn, I almost wish I’d listened to it. I bet it wins audio book of the year at the audies 2010!

  4. Steph says:

    I’ve only heard extremely good things about this book, so while it’s not one that would normally grab me (I don’t naturally gravitate towards “Southern” fiction, though that is changing a bit now that I’ve been living in the South for a while), I think it is one I will have to try.

    1. Jackie says:

      Steph, I don’t gravitate towards southern fiction – only great books! This is one you should try to get hold of – I’m sure you’ll love it!

  5. Claire says:

    No, this isn’t my favourite book of 2009 because I haven’t read it! Your review convinced me to read it though so perhaps that will change.

    1. Jackie says:

      Claire, I’m sure that you’ll love it! I read today that word of mouth is causing sales of this book to soar – so much that they are delaying the paperback release of it! Hopefully your library will have a copy though.

  6. Kathleen says:

    Well if it is in your top 10 I certainly think it is worth adding to my TBR list!

    1. Jackie says:

      Kathleen, I hope that you enjoy it!

      1. Sandy says:

        Kathleen, you have to. This is as close to a sure thing as you can get!

  7. mee says:

    This book has 5 stars in Amazon with thousands of raters. That’s amazing! I’m more intrigued after reading your review.

    ps: Your rss is working now, but it’s partial, not full rss, which I think a lot people find troublesome/annoying. I hope you can fix that soon :)

    1. Jackie says:

      mee, The number of 5* reviews on Amazon is amazing – it just shows what a great book this is!

      Sorry about the partial feed – I hate it as much as everyone else and am trying to fix it as quickly as possible – very annoying!

  8. diane says:

    This is my #1 book of 2009 so far–enjoy!

    1. Jackie says:

      diane, I thought it might be!

  9. Rachel says:

    I have heard so much about this and would love to read it as it sounds just up my street – I’m going to make sure I look out for it now!

    1. Jackie says:

      Rachel, It is an amazing book, so I hope you find a copy!

  10. Kim says:

    This book is definitely on my radar, I love books with well drawn characters and I had heard this was one of the best for that.
    I am interested to hear your comment about the publishers delaying the paperback version from being available….I know it makes for good business, but, come on, guys!!
    Great review as always, Jackie, thank you.

    1. Jackie says:

      Kim, Yes – it is the first time I have ever heard about publishers delaying the release of a book because it is successful (but I haven’t looked into that sort of thing, so it is probably common practice). I don’t blame the publishers though – they deserve any extra money they can get, as times are tough at the moment.

  11. Melody says:

    Yes, indeed! I’ve heard so many raves on this book! I’ve got to move this book up my TBR pile!

    1. Jackie says:

      Melody, I hope it gets to the top of your TBR pile soon – I’m sure you’ll enjoy it!

  12. Nicole says:

    I’m listening to this book on audio and it is quite excellent. The voices are so realistic and you can feel what is going on with them in their voices. So good, but didn’t touch you? What gives?

    1. Jackie says:

      Nicole, I’m sorry – I must have heart of stone! I did feel for the characters, but they had troubles, not the kind of heartache that leaves me surrounded by tissues. It was too gentle, explaining their problems in such a realistic way that I was never really shocked or an emotional wreck – I do respect it for that though – amazing writing quality.

      1. Nicole says:

        Well I definitely agree that I haven’t broken out the tissues but I am very interested in all of them. Good point.

  13. Amy says:

    I haven’t read this book yet but I am going to very soon (I hope!) I’ve read many good things about it although nothing in depth as I like to read a book without knowing too much about it beforehand.
    I’m glad to know you loved the book!

    1. Jackie says:

      Amy, I don’t like to know too much about a book before reading it either – that’s why I try not to say much about the plot in my reviews. I hope that you enjoy it too!

  14. Simon S says:

    I have seen this book a few times and been thoroughly tempted by it partly for the cover alone but because of the story. If it really compares to To Kill A Mockingbird which is one of the greatest books of all time then I may have to get a copy, or wait for one at the library.

    1. Jackie says:

      Simon, It has been a very long time since I read To Kill a Mockingbird, but I do think that this handles race relations in a similar way. In many ways it actually gives a better insight into their feelings.

      I love the cover too!

  15. i read this book a few months back, after seeing it pop up everywhere. like you, i felt the characterization was wonderful, so rich that the characters became real to me. stockett dealt with a difficult era in american history with aplomb and i look forward to her future books!

    1. Jackie says:

      Nat, I agree. I look forward to reading more of her books, but I’m not sure she’ll manage to create something so rich if she isn’t writing from personal experience. I look forward to finding out though!

  16. Stephanie says:

    I loved this book! My father grew up much like some of the other children in this book–with a woman who pretty much ran the household and raised my father and his brothers. He had such an emotional connection with her and even has a picture of her on his dresser to this day. I wish he would read this book so he could compare his situation with the circumstances in the book.

    1. Jackie says:

      Stephanie, It is great that you have some personal history that makes this book even more special. Hopefully you’ll persuade him to read this book soon!

  17. Even great books often have something to be annoyed about. Great review!

    1. Jackie says:

      J.T. Thank you! Perfection is such a hard thing to acheive – I think I will find tiny things wrong with every book I read, but that doesn’t mean I won’t rave about it and pass my copy on to anyone who talks to me for long enough!

  18. Teddy says:

    This was one of my favorites in 2009!

    1. Jackie says:

      Teddy, It will be mine too!

  19. Thanks for this review. Been meaning to read this book for a while, and I’m glad to see you enjoyed it.

    PS : It’s not one of those emotionally manipulative books, right?

    1. Jackie says:

      anothercookiecrumbles, no it isn’t an emotionally manipulative book – at least I didn’t think so!

  20. Wendy says:

    I really liked this book A LOT! But it is not my favorite of the year…it is up there, but there were other books I would probably put above it in terms of favorite reads (I am going to have a heck of a time picking my favorite…I’ve read some amazing books this year!).

    1. Jackie says:

      Wendy, I’ve just done a post about my favourite books of the year. The Help came 6th! I’ll be interested to see what number it makes on your list of the year and what you put above it!

  21. S. Krishna says:

    I can’t wait to read this book – I have not seen a negative review of it anywhere!

    1. Jackie says:

      S. Krishna, Neither have I! I’m sure you’ll enjoy it!

  22. Mrs.B says:

    I just finished this book today (review to come soon) and I feel the same as you. It was a good book and excellent in many ways but I do have some gripes about it. I didn’t like the constant references to the era that suddenly appeared in the last third of the book (songs, shake n’ bake, etc..)..I felt it was too forced. And what was the deal with that naked man? Anyway, I still have to gather my thoughts on this. I’ll let you know when I post my review.

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