#1. The Help by Katheryn Stockett

The novel is told from the perspective of three characters: Aibileen Clark, a middle-aged African-American maid who has spent her life raising white children and has recently lost her only son; Minny Jackson, an African-American maid who has often offended her employers despite her family's struggles with money and her desperate need for jobs; and Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan, a young white woman who has recently moved back home after graduating college to find out her childhood maid has mysteriously disappeared. These three stories intertwine to explain how life in Jackson, Mississippi revolves around "the help"; yet they are always kept at a certain distance because of racial lines.

I started off my 11 in 2011 with Katheryn Stockett's The Help, and it was simultaneously the worst and best decision.


It's a bit more difficult to break books into categories of what's good and what's bad because they strike me as far more complex than movies, especially if you get a good one. And The Help is absolutely a good one. Mrs. Stockett does a fantastic job of ripping you out of your comfortable post millenia bubble and thrusting you into the Jackson, Mississippi of the 60's. What's more is, she writes each of the three characters so well, it feels like you're reading actual memoirs, as opposed to a work of fiction.

The book speaks to your emotions. It's frustrating to keep quiet as you read about the way Aibileen and the other ladies are treated, how Ms. Skeeter is treated once her "secret" is out. In the back of your mind, you are constantly whispering this is so, so wrong. 

The relationships between characters are also very real. Some make you so angry you could spit, others make you cry with laughter, still others make you weep at how selfless they are... and some just plain rip your heart out. Each man, woman, and child is so real that you can almost touch them... but at the end of the day, you're glad you're only reading about it. Furthermore, they are so easy to relate to, despite the fact that they were living out their lives 40 years before today; before I'm living out mine. They had flaws, fears, critical parents, snotty brothers, peer pressure, unruly children, friends, enemies, flawed marriages, broken hearts... and while it made you connect and thus emmerse yourself in the story, it also makes you realize that all the racism was ridiculous. We aren't that different at all.

I also love that, after reading all of that, you find out that Mrs. Stockett herself grew up with a maid, and that she wrote this partly because she realized she never thanked her own help as a child. It makes everything ring a little sweeter.


There isn't a whole lot. Some of the situations can make you quite angry, but honestly, the "worst" thing about it is, once you read it, it's difficult to find another book to follow it with. It is just so good and well written that anything you read will be lacking, simply because it's not this.

I've found it very difficult to get into my second book for my 11 in 2011 challenge...


I recommend The Help to anyone and everyone, regardless of whether or not you like to read. It is a quick read - you will not be able to put it down - but also engaging and thought provoking. It will open your eyes to a lot of things, and at the very least, make you thank the stars we were born today, and not back then... that we are living in a time where people who treat others like lesser beings are the ones frowned upon, not the other way around. And it is a beautiful window to a time when black women were good enough to raise your children, but not to sit and eat with you.

If you haven't read this, pick up your copy today! Also, be sure to check out the movie, due in theaters this coming August. 

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