The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Help CoverFrom the civil rights leader. Martin Luther King, and his vision of integrated black Americans, and full recognition of their humanity within American society, to contemporary America where an aspiring African American has ascended to the top of the corridors of power, Barack Obama symbolises someone who has achieved not only equality but also an African American who has through becoming become President, truly glorified King’s futuristic vision. Barack Obama has achieved the American dream, the African American dream.

The Help is based in the early 1960s when Martin Luther King was a very dominant influence. I think the above information puts the story into context.

The story’s central character, Eugenie Skeeter, a young white American graduate, returns home from university to discover that her beloved black maid, Constantine, has left the family for reasons not disclosed to her. Skeeter is an aspiring journalist with a deepening interest into the treatment of black maids by their white employers. She embarks on a courageous mission to expose the truth with the devoted help of Aibileen, one of the most determined and courageous maids. Skeeter manages to interview skilfully and accurately record the experiences of many repressed souls.

These willing souls convey experiences of mistreatment, being regarded as sub-human, how their humanity was objectified, and how they were treated as objects as opposed to human beings.

This is a thought-provoking book, highlighting the subjugation of black Americans, issues relating to white supremacy, inequality and bigotry. All these complex issues are brought to the fore in an emotional and powerful way. The Help is a unique masterpiece.

ANITA MACKWOOD
Shipley Readers Group

The Help is probably the best liked book read by the Shipley Reading Group in the last five years. It generated much discussion about race, prejudice and hypocrisy. We discussed our own experiences of these and other issues in Bradford and elsewhere over the last few decades. There was much admiration for the skills of the author in relating her novel through all her characters at their different levels in the America of the time. It was compared to Gone with the Wind but the latter was seen as shallow compared to the challenging depths of The Help. Perhaps The Help will become a genuine classic studied at GCE and A Level. It has much to teach us.

MIKE YOUNG
Shipley Readers Group

NB – The paperback copies we had were 400+ pages of densely packed print in a font size which seemed smaller than usual. Readers with visual difficulties,like myself, might find this a strain for their eyes. It would be a great shame if it stopped people reading and enjoying this wonderful book.

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