The Sweetie Chronicles

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. ~William Wordsworth

Book 8: The Help

At first, I was hesitant to read a book about the tensions between blacks and whites in Mississippi during the 1960's. I mean, haven't we seen enough of that through Mississippi Burning and other such movies? Don't they all end with some lead character getting beaten to death or something? No thanks.

But Kathryn Stockett's version of 1963 Mississippi is different. Beautiful in some ways. Heartbreaking in others. In "The Help", there are three main point of view characters. Skeeter, a 20-something girl who has just graduated from the University of Mississippi and moved back home to live with her parents. She wants nothing more than to get out of Miss. and be a real writer. She wants to live in New York. An editor at Harper and Rowe takes pity on her and tells her that if she can come up with a unique book idea, she'll take a look at it.

Aibileen, an older black woman who has raised 17 white babies, but whose son has recently died in an accident at his work. The woman she's currently working for is an old high school friend of Miss Skeeter's, but Aibileen sees a different side of the woman. She never pays any attention to her daughter. Never shows her love and affection, though the little girl desperately wants it. Aibileen is more of a mother to the child than her own white mother.

Then there's Minnie, a plump black woman who keeps losing her cleaning jobs with the white ladies because she can't keep her mouth closed. She backtalks and says what she's thinking, which gets her into some serious trouble. Just when she thinks she'll never find a job again, Aibileen helps her get in with Celia, a white-trash-girl who married into society and is too naive and stupid to know any better. She hired Minnie and their relationship is one like Minnie has never had with a white woman before.

All three of these main characters have their own individual stories, but they also begin to weave together as Skeeter begins to write a book about what it's like for the black help to work for the white women they serve. A book from the help's perspective. It's a dangerous project and if they are found out, they could lose everything they've worked for - and even their lives.

I loved this book in a way that I have loved very few books in my lifetime. It touched my heart, made me laugh, made me cry, and will be with me forever. Beautiful written, the characters are what make the story. I fell in love with these three women, and I feel like I know them. Kathryn Stockett shows us the truth about living in the south, and not just in the 1960's - it's complicated. There are beautiful relationships and there are some so ugly you can barely stand to see them. It's true. Those of us from the South both love it and hate it at the same time. This is a book everyone needs to read. Probably women will get more out of it than men, but if you are a woman who has not yet read it, you NEED to. One of the best books I've ever read, and that's saying something special.

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Sarra Cannon

Young Adult Indie Author

I always secretly wanted to be a cheerleader. And a witch. Now, I write about both. The first five novels in my Peachville High Demons Young Adult Paranormal series are available now in ebook!

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