Sep 9, 2011

The Help, by Kathryn Stockett

Disclaimer: All reviews are the result of my personal opinion from a Christian stand-point. These reviews are provided for those who share my beliefs and morals, to help guide what fiction a reader may wish to pick up. For those who do not share these beliefs, please refrain from hateful comments. It is due to rude commenting that I must now include this note prior to all reviews. For more information, visit my purpose behind this blog. Thank you for your understanding.

Intended Age-Group: Adult
Issues of Violence: some graphic images (murder, physical abuse)
Intimacy Level: Some kissing. Hint at sleeping together
Swearing: d***, s***, n****r, h***, b*****d
Recommendation: 4 out of 5 stars

I've always had a personal rule:
If I hear a book mentioned (positively) by three or more different people, I need to read it. This rule brought me to Kathryn Stockett's debut novel, The Help.
I know it's not teen. I know it's not fantasy. I know it's not Christian. BUT: it's good.

The story follows the point-of-view of three women in the early 1960's--two black women who work as "help" for white families and one white woman, Skeeter Phelan, who's eyes are opened more than any other respectable lady's about the state of the Help. She also stands a good 4 inches taller than any other lady in Jackson, Mississippi. Skeeter's dream is to be a writer and finds herself with a novel idea filled with passion--write about the point of view of the Help. She wants to hear the real opinions of women like Aibileen and Minny who've grown up serving white families, raising white babies, cooking for helpless white women. What's it like doing all the work, but acting invisible?

When black women finally start opening up, Skeeter and her "anonymous" Help ladies find themselves facing dangers they never thought would touch their lives. One day, a black boy is beaten until he's blind for using a white person's toilet. The next could be Skeeter for even conversing with black women. What started out as a simple book idea turns into a life-threatening stand. Will Skeeter keep standing to spread this eye-opening view to white families? Will she stand to give the Help a voice? Can they stand the pressure and threats?

My Reaction: *****
I loved The Help. Stockett has unmarked skill in writing each character's voice in a clear and distinct manner. I can read one sentence and know who's talking. I've never been to the south, I never lived in the 60's, and I don't know much history (despite the endless years of school I've attended). Some people say that Stockett's information is inaccurate with the time line or her characters aren't believable. Well, I learned more about black culture, southern culture, and 60's culture than I ever dreamed I could through a novel.
Mature Content:
The Help stole my hours of sleep and I stayed up until 2am reading it more nights in a row than I care to admit. It's an excellent read and a real read. That being said, it's certainly geared toward and appropriate for adults. Adult situations/topics like violent racism, murder, miscarriages, rape, sex outside of marriage, physical abuse, etc. are touched upon and, in some cases, addressed in detail. Language like d***, s***, h***, and racial slurs like n*gg*r are used often.

Sexual Content is remarkably low on the romance front, but there is a situation partway through the book of a naked man trying to break and enter a house. There is description of him touching himself and other forms of flaunting his clothe-less state. It's not a pleasant picture and I encourage the readers to take caution.

Overall Recommendation:
I recommend this book for adults. It's extremely well-written, heart-warming, heart-wrenching, and eye-opening. I can't say enough good things about it and I hope that you find yourself determined to live life with the right view and mindset of life, love, and people.

Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She writes stories about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her debut dystopian novel, A Time to Die, releases 2014 from Marcher Lord Press, the premier publisher of Christian speculative fiction. When Nadine's not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she is out pursuing adventures. She currently lives in Idaho with her husband. You can find out more about Nadine and her books at

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