Book Review: The Help

The Help is an incredible book. It’s taken me a while to pinpoint exactly why, because there are so many layers. But I think I’ve got it.

Here goes.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett will always shock and entertain with one key element: it’s human. It points out the inhumanity of humanity in a very humble, humorous way.

Am I making any sense? 

The book brings us to the sweltering heat of Jackson, Mississippi, and nearly makes us sweat while we read. Looking back fifty years, we learn that America’s racist past isn’t as far in the past as we thought or hoped. We also find that the wives of this small, stuffy town orbit the ladies’ league: one huge clique with Hilly Hollbrooks at the center. Painted smiles cover all of their faces, but the story slips behind those smiles to expose the people within. The nice ladies are not so friendly after all. And the happy women are not so happy after all. The charade, thankfully, is exposed by Aibileen, Minny, and all the others who see the secrets. 

I rarely endorse a movie as highly as the book, but the film adaptation captures the spirit so well. Since I watched the film before reading the story, I had the actors invading my imagination. Normally I dislike this—for example, Elijah Wood. I do not want him as my visual for Frodo because he doesn’t fit Tolkien’s character. But actors in The Help so thoroughly embody the characters that I enjoyed the book even more with them.