Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.
Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.
Minny, Aibileen’s best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody’s business, but she can’t mind her tongue, so she’s lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.
Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.
My review:With great humor and compassion, Stockett gives us a very intimate, compelling look at southern life in Jackson, Mississippi during the tumultuous 60’s, narrated by a privileged white woman and two black maids—“the help.” From these two perspectives, we see the relationships between white people, between black people, and between white and black close-up, at a time in which smothering social/racial rules existed. These rules are about to be broken, but not without cost, and we are caught up in the suspense as we anxiously anticipate what will happen when barriers are crossed and conventions challenged. This book is heartbreaking, funny, eye-opening, and completely absorbing. I could barely put it down. The main characters are so endearing, we come to ache for their struggle, while we come to detest some of the characters around them as their hypocrisy, fear, racism and dishonesty are exposed, and at the same time we’re made to understand how they are products of their environment. The writing is superb, skillfully capturing the essence of the life, language and culture of both the white and black communities. You will find yourself completely engaged in the unique setting and swept up in the story. I highly recommend this book. Another great choice for book club discussion.
O, Christ! When you died, you broke the wall that divided us from God; you struck it, you cracked it; you tore it apart—you made a door of that which had been death before.Quotes: Wendell Berry
We clasp the hands for those that go before us,
And the hands of those who come after us.
We enter the little circle of each other's arms
And the larger circle of lovers,
Whose hands are joined in a dance,
And the larger circle of all creatures,
Passing in and out of life,
Who move also in a dance,
To a music so subtle and vast that no ear hears it
Except in fragments.
But I trust in your unfailing love.
I will rejoice because you have rescued me.
I will sing to the Lord
because he is good to me.
He changes rivers into deserts,
and springs of water into dry, thirsty land.
He turns the fruitful land into salty wastelands,
because of the wickedness of those who live there.
But he also turns deserts into pools of water,
the dry land into springs of water.