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Michael Hollingsworth

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Book Review: The Help
by Michael Hollingsworth   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Wednesday, December 07, 2011
Posted: Wednesday, December 07, 2011

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A Tale of Southern White and Black Households in the Early 1960s

  First-time writer Kathryn Stockett writes and then releases The Help on February 10, 2009 and it promptly became a best seller. The publisher is a G. P. Putnam's sons.

My wife received The Help as a gift. After reading it she passed it to me while insisting, because of our familiarities with the subject matter and Mississippi history, that I read it.
     Thinking the novel too womanish for my fancy, I was genuinely reluctant to pick it up and get started. But as a native of Mississippi and a product of the 1960's, I was curious about this story that takes place in Southern white and black households in the early 1960s. Truly men had a secondary role throughout the story but after becoming engulfed in the book it did not matter one bit. Once I picked it up, I couldn't put it down.
     It was surprising but satisfying to be swiftly absorbed directly into the story. Absorbed even further onto the characters' stage for a very undeniable poignant journey to the very last word of the very last chapter.
     This is a novel of the civil rights era and is written from the perspective of black maids serving in Jackson, Mississippi white households.
     There are three main characters, White girl Skeeter, and two black maids named Aibileen, and Minny.
     Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan, was raised in Jackson and attended from grammar through high school with two good friends, Hilly and Elizabeth. As a matter of fact, she roomed with best friend Hilly for a couple years at Ole Miss before Hilly dropped-out to get married.
     Skeeter, a twenty-three year old, just back home after graduating from Ole Miss had a trenchant feeling that she had returned to a place where she no longer unconditionally belonged. Skeeter's old beliefs and behavior were no longer proper or legitimate in her mind while hobnobing with old friends especially her stilted and cynical best friend Hilly.
     Skeeter covertly writes a book, with Aibileen and Minny's input and assistance, dealing with the low and high experiences of black maids, the racial insults, hushed courageousness, the unconditional love from white children. The storybook is so revealing and condemnatory it places every contributor in serious jeopardy. But it has the potential to crack wide open the abysmal suffering tolerated by black maids in Jackson, Mississippi during a period when the winds of change were whipping through our nation.
My assigned grade = A.

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