The Help

by

Author: Kathryn Stockett

Title: The Help

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publication Date: 2009

Number of Pages: 522

Geographical Setting: Jackson, MS

Time Period: 1962-1964

Plot Summary: In 1962 Skeeter Phelan has graduated from college and is back in Jackson, Mississippi in the house where she grew up.  Desperate to leave town and become a writer she becomes inspired to write a book from the point of view of the African-American maids who live and work in her hometown.  Not without resistance, she enlists the help of Aibileen and Minny – two friends who have worked for multiple families in town over the years.  Stockett’s novel is told from these three voices as they embark on their secret project,  each aware of the risks and high costs that presenting this story to the world may have.

Subject Headings: African-American women, Civil Rights movement, college graduates, determination in women, domestic workers, housekeepers, interracial friendship, life change events, race relations, the sixties (20th century), and unemployed workers

Appeal:

compelling pacing, hopeful, emotionally-charged, thoughtful tone, character driven, multiple points of view, well-developed and vivid characters, flawed characters, sympathetic characters, inspiring characters, thought-provoking, historical setting, and engaging prose

3 terms that best describe this book:

Character driven, flawed characters, compelling

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Elizabeth and Hazel: two women of Little Rock by David Margolick – Taking place in a similar historical period to The Help, this novel tells the story of two women who were captured in an infamous picture during school integration in Little Rock.  Margolick recounts how this event shaped their lives.  This work has two points of view and focuses on individual people impacted by the civil rights movement.

Freedom Summer: the Savage Summer that Made Mississippi Burn and Made America a Democracy by Bruce Watson – Telling the story of seven hundred volunteers who went to Mississippi in the summer of 1964 to help register African-American voters and the violence that followed.  These events took place just after the fictional events of The Help.  The author also focuses on the participants and residents, capturing everyday people.

This Little Light of Mine: The Life of Fannie Lou Hamer by Kay Mills – Covering the civil rights movement through one activist, making it a personal character driven narrative.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Freshwater Road by Denise Nicholas – Celeste is a college student and volunteer in the Freedom Summer in 1965. She is sent to a small Mississippi town to register voters, where she makes friends and finds unexpected challenges.  This novel has a similar historical setting, a character driven narrative, with young women questioning society around her.

American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld – The wife of the American President considers the path she took and the things about herself she had to give up on her journey.  It is a character driven novel with flawed and complex characters.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows – Post World War II Juliet, an English writer, is working to move beyond.  After exchanging letters with members of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie society, she decides to visit them on an extended holiday.  A character driven story that involves creating unlikely friendships in trying circumstances

Name: Lisa Anne Fisherkeller Barefield

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