I’m a pretty busy lady, but I definitely like to find those lazy days when I can just sit and read and forget about the world around me. Sometimes, I come across a book that is so engrossing that I can’t help but become completely absorbed – so absorbed that I forget about my reality and feel like I live in the reality of the book.
The Help by Katherine Stockett was one of those books for me. My book club chose to read this book, and I was surprised by the choice because the book is very new. Normally we stick with book club kits from the public library (in case you didn’t know, public libraries = free books, and that fits well into my tight budget), but some of the girls in our group had heard such great things, we all decided to fork over the cash and read it.
What a wonderful story! The Help is a book about exactly that – the hired help. Written from three points of view, The Help takes a look at what it was like to be the hired help in Mississippi during the 60’s. Skeeter is a twenty-something college graduate whose dream is to work as a journalist, but whose parents want nothing more for her than marriage to an acceptable young southern man. As she spends more and more time at home, she realizes that she does not share the same views as her now-grown childhood friends – especially when it comes to the African-American women who serve in their homes. And she realizes that these women – the hired help – do not have a voice at all. So she hatches a plan to share their voice with the world. Enter Aibileen and Minny. Both women have served as the hired help for their entire adult lives – Aibileen has faithfully and lovingly served many families, and Minny’s mouth has gotten her fired from many jobs, but her amazing cooking skills have always helped her find another job. Though Skeeter’s plan will put all the women at risk, all the women know that the stories they have to tell are absolutely worth it.
The Help is one of those books that really makes you think about the world around you. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our own take on things, we fail to see that there are other points of view, other stories to be told, that are just as important as ours, and that can and do have a profound effect on us. Some of the characters in the book didn’t have the ability to see the world through the eyes of the people who worked for them. In a way, I felt sorry for them – it has to be difficult to live in a world where people don’t see things your way. And though the book deals with race relations in the 60’s, I think this lesson still rings true – and it doesn’t have to apply just to race relations. The Help encourages us to try walking a mile in someone else’s shoes.