The Help by Kathryn Stockett

by Kathryn Stockett

Title: The Help: A Novel

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publication Date: 2009 (Debut Novel)

Number of Pages: 464

Geographical Setting: Jackson, Mississippi (Southern United States)

Time Period: 1962 During Civil Rights Movement in the U.S.

Plot Summary: It is 1962 and in Jackson Mississippi black apartheid and its ensuing constraints are deeply embedded into the lives of Skeeter, Aibileen, and Minny. Skeeter is young, white, educated, naïve and would like to break into journalism. She discreetly interviews Aibileen, Minnie, and other black domestic workers from her hometown about their relationships with their employers. She discovers layered story lines and risky situations. As their stories merge, a moving, humorous, and forceful movement begins.

Subject Headings: Civil rights movement, African American women, Jackson (Miss.), Fiction, Historical Fiction

Appeal: builds in intensity, bittersweet, candid, humorous, insightful, sobering, detailed, realistic, character-centered, multiple plots, domestic, issue-oriented, thought-provoking, hopeful, unpretentious

3 terms that best describe this book: story of– cultural diversity, dynamic women, and no act is too small

3 Relevant Fiction Works:

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd (set during the civil rights movement in the south with strong female characters)

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (explores racism and class in the South during the 1930’s and is  humorous and with  likeable characters)

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café by Fannie Flagg (has southern women, friendships, adversity, stereotypes, and deals with secrets)

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works:

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson (The greater context into which The Help fits into)

The Grace of Silence by Michele Norris (a poignant memoir by the famous NPR host that looks at her family’s secrets and explores racial issues)

Black Boy by Richard Wright (an insightful autobiographical account of race relations in the South and in the North during the mid 20th century)

— Jeanne Jesernik


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