The Help

Images Years ago, when there was just Amazon to do research, I was the keeper of finding new music.  Partnerships are funny.  When one person picks up the slack on something, the other one generally lets go.  So, as Fred has returned to his music passions, he has become the music man and I literally don't look for new music anymore.  Sort of like travel.  I used to have an incredible sense of direction (not that I have completely lost that ) but I am always the driver and Fred is the navigator.  When we drove cross country, in our youth, our car had a sticker that said "Freddie is my co-pilot".  But when it comes to books, I am all over that.  I still use Amazon to find new stuff.  Help by Kathryn Stockett is my latest find.  What a find. 

I have literally been staying up way too late every night because I couldn't put the book down.  I finished last night around midnight.  This is a first novel for Stockett and a seriously impressive book. 

The Help is about a white woman, Skeeter, who comes home from college, in the early 60's when she takes a step back and wonders what it must be like to be a black domestic in a white persons home.  She grew up with a wonderful woman, Constantine who is no longer there when she returns and her realization of what an integral part of her life Constantine was, makes her start to think about segregation and the behavior of white people towards their help. 

The story unfolds through the civil rights movements from Medgar Evers to Martin Luther King.  It was okay for the help to raise the kids, make the food and clean the house but not to use the same bathroom.  Skeeter decides to write a book, secretly, telling the story of what it is like to work in the homes of the white people in Mississippi.  She befriends the housekeepers and soon meets with them secretly while she lets them tell their story.

Each character is interesting and so real.  Each chapter goes back and forth through different charcters voices and Stockett moves the story forward.  Points makes you laugh and other truly make you cry.  Although not a true story, probably quite an accurate tale of a slice of history that nobody ever writes about.  The author, Stockett, grew up in Mississippi and had a black domestic who helped raise her.  She writes at the end of the book that she wishes that she had been old enough and wise enough when this woman died to ask her what it was like working in her house with the underlying rules about the divisions between blacks and whites.  She never got to ask and this story is what she imagines her story would be. 

I loved the book.