While traveling earlier this week, I was able to finish reading The Help. I really enjoyed this book so much and highly recommend it.
This book is based in Jackson, Mississippi back in the 50's/60's and is all about segregation. There are really 2 groups of characters in this book -- the white ladies, and the African American house maids. The book goes into discussing the details of their lives -- how the white ladies live and how the house maids live.
The book's main story is about one of the white ladies, who is fresh out of college, returns home and decides she wants to be a writer. Although she lands a job at the local paper writing cleaning advice columns (which is ironic because she has never cleaned a day in her life), she longs to write something of more importance.
After finding out her mother's house maid, who basically raised her as a baby up until she went off to college, was fired, and is nowhere to be found, she started questioning segregation and why the white men and women think the African American men and women are so dirty and diseased and how they needed to be separated from the white folk.
The white writer decides she wants to write a book about house maids working for the white ladies, and she reaches out to some maids to help her tell their story. One of the maids decides to help her out and then they eventually recruit other house maids to tell their story as well.
Not to give away too much, but this book was an emotional ride for me. I truly connected with some of these characters, which is my favorite part about reading. There were moments where I laughed, wanted to cry, and got just plain mad at these white ladies.
Besides their stupidity and ignorance on the differences between whites and African Americans, I think the thing that bothered me the most was how some of the children were really raised by their house maids. One character didn't really act like she even wanted her child. When her maid wasn't around she was like "what do I do with this child??"
I think the parts that I liked best were when the white writer lady and the house maids started to form friendships and pulled together to form this sort of revolution by writing this book. I also really liked how some of the house maids had great stories to tell about their white ladies. Even though it wasn't publicized, the white families really became good friends with their house maids, helped them out when they were in trouble, and even sometimes considered them family.
The end of the book was a little shocking to me, and kind of made me a little angry, but you get the idea that even though it doesn't share what happens to some of the characters, you believe they are all going to be ok, and everything worked out as it should have.
This was probably one of my favorite books, and as I mentioned before, I highly recommend this to anyone who is looking for an emotional story that you can really connect with.