Books,  Fiction,  Reviews

The “Terrible Awful” Truth about The Help


The Help
by Kathryn Stockett


Although the title of this post may lead you to believe I plan on trashing Kathryn Stockett’s book The Help, my intention is to send you all to the bookstore if you have not yet read it or to read the book again.

I am ashamed to admit that prior to the release of The Help the movie, I had no idea that the book discussed segregation in Jackson, Mississippi. Never fear! I read the book before I saw the movie. In fact, I watched the movie the same day I finished the book!

The Help enthralled me from the first chapter, cliche as that sounds. Stockett’s ability to emote via writing a variety of character personalities is a testament to her superb writing. Each narrator, Minny, Aibileen, and Skeeter, has their own voice and evokes different reactions and sentiment from the reader. Whether it was the overbearing mother of Skeeter or the bond between maid and child, there is no shortage of personal connections made to Stockett’s characters and their trials.

Stockett wrote vividly, creating a vibrant setting and plot that played out in my imagination as if I were a real life witness. It is a credit to director Tate Taylor, that the movie only enhanced my imagination instead of detracting from the world created in my mind. Most of the time I advocate that books should not be turned into film, because they lose their vibrancy and what I like to call literary flair. In the case of the The Help, I was pleasantly surprised. The media was spot on when they applauded the female cast. Director Tate Taylor said in an article for The Hollywood Reporter, “I’m so proud of all my girls. We were the little movie that could. Everybody poured their hearts and souls into this movie,” and the dedication of the actors and crew definitely radiated on the screen.

Whether you are a historical buff, literary connoisseur, or looking for a new read – The Help has something for everyone. Through three narratives, Stockett explores the history, emotion, and experience of living in Jim Crow Mississippi during the 1960s. The story she wove together, although fiction, exposes aspects of Stockett’s childhood in Jackson, making The Help a powerful addition to the world of novels.

Some of you may have already read The Help, recognizing its significance when it was first published in 2009, but for me it was an unknown gem too long ignored. Among the laughs, tears, and hope of The Help, I witnessed a different perspective of segregation sadly missing from my education. Everyone should read and re-read this book to repeatedly harvest its message that, “[n]ot that much separates us[, n]ot nearly as much as [we’d] thought.”  Hell, read the book even if it’s to understand the hilarity between the “terrible awful” and the reference made in the title of this post. Whatever your reasons, just GO READ!


  • Emily

    I also really loved the Help and had similar feelings about it when I saw the movie when I was back in August. However, did you see the Colbert Report recently when he interviewed a Tulane professor about her new book on stereotypes of African American women? She mentioned the Help in quite a few pointed under the breath comments. I’m obviously removed from some of the more current American cultural conversations, but the interview did snap some things back into focus (for me at least, being over here and all). If you haven’t seen it, which you probably haven’t due to grad school apps (good luck by the way!), you should check it out.

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