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The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Day 8 of #AtoZChallenge

Unabashedly honest, courageous, considerate, truthful- These are the adjectives I would use to define The Help by Katheryn Stockett. It is one of those books which make you angry, sad and compassionate, all at the same time. It is definitely in the list of my all-time favourite books and one of those rare books which also turned out awesome on silverscreen.

The Help is based upon a sensitive subject of racial apartheid in many parts of the US during the last century. Though, it is a fictional account tracing the lives of African-American women in Jackson, Mississippi who worked as domestic helps in white people’s houses during the 1960s; the story clearly echoes what happened in the society back then. However, what differentiated this book from others in the genre, is the presentation and the characters. The author uses characters generously inspired from reality to portray the life of these people in a society which needed them to survive but could not accept them as equals.

The story revolves around Aibilieen and Minny who work as help in white people’s houses. They help with the domestic chores and take care of the children. Aibileen is composed, matured, loves kids and is proficient at her work. Minny, on the other hand, can’t seem to control her tongue and ends up in trouble more often than she can handle. Skeeter Phelan is a white young blonde who socializes with Aibileen and Minny’s employers but unlike her friends, treats the help with compassion and kindness. Skeeter Phelan needs a unique story to get published and decides to write about the Help-but from their point of view. After initial resistances, Minny and Aibilieen along with eleven other women agree to share their stories, completely aware of the drastic consequences if they are exposed, all along the way.

Stockett’s characters are courageous, to say the least. In spite of the mortal risk, the women in the book stand up for righteousness in their own way. Skeeter and Celia Foote represent the segment of the white society which does not want racial discrimination and make efforts in their own way. The emotions in the plot blend perfectly to maintain a balance of fact and fiction. Helplessness, sadness and disgust along with hope, optimism and courage work together in this literary masterpiece.

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