The Help (Paperback)
Berkley, 9780425232200, 544pp.
Publication Date: April 5, 2011
Other Editions of This Title:
Digital Audiobook (2/9/2009)
Paperback, Large Print (4/5/2011)
Library Binding, Large Print (5/2/2009)
Paperback, Chinese (10/7/2011)
February 2009 Indie Next List
— Sheila Burns, Bloomsbury Books, Ashland, OR
View the List
Fall '09/Winter '10 Reading Group List
— Gail Wetta, Anderson's Bookshop, Naperville, IL
View the List
Aibileen is a black maid in 1962 Jackson, Mississippi, who’s always taken orders quietly, but lately she’s unable to hold her bitterness back. Her friend Minny has never held her tongue but now must somehow keep secrets about her employer that leave her speechless. White socialite Skeeter just graduated college. She’s full of ambition, but without a husband, she’s considered a failure.
Together, these seemingly different women join together to write a tell-all book about work as a black maid in the South, that could forever alter their destinies and the life of a small town...
About the Author
Praise For The Help…
“The two principal maid characters...leap off the page in all their warm, three dimensional glory...[A] winning novel.”—The New York Times
“This could be one of the most important pieces of fiction since To Kill a Mockingbird…If you read only one book...let this be it.”—NPR.org
“Wise, poignant...You’ll catch yourself cheering out loud.”—People
“Graceful and real, a compulsively readable story.”—Entertainment Weekly
“A beautiful portrait of a fragmenting world.”—The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“The must-read choice of every book club in the country.”—The Huffington Post
“At turns hilarious and heart-warming.”—Associated Press
“In a page-turner that brings new resonance to the moral issues involved, Stockett spins a story of a social awakening as seen from both sides of the American racial divide.”—The Washington Post
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
1. Who was your favorite character? Why?
2. What do you think motivated Hilly? On one hand she’s so unpleasant to Aibileen and her own help, as well as to Skeeter once she realizes she can’t control her. But she’s a wonderful mother. Do you think you can be a good mother but at the same time a deeply flawed person?
3. Like Hilly, Skeeter’s mother is a prime example of someone deeply flawed yet somewhat sympathetic. She seems to care for Skeeter — and she also seems to have very real feelings for Constantine. Yet the ultimatum she gives to Constantine is untenable. And most of her interaction with Skeeter is critical. Do you think Skeeter’s mother is a sympathetic or unsympathetic character? Why?
4. How much of a person’s character do you think is shaped by the times in which they live?
5. Did it bother you that Skeeter is willing to overlook so many of Stuart’s faults so that she can get married, and it’s not until he literally gets up and walks away that the engagement falls apart?
6. Do you think Minny was justified in her distrust of white people?
7. Do you think that had Aibileen stayed working for Miss Elizabeth, that Mae Mobley would have grown up to be racist like her mother? Do you think racism is inherent, or taught?
8. From the perspective of a 21st century reader, the hair shellac system that Skeeter undergoes seems ludicrous. Yet women still alter their looks in rather peculiar ways as the definition of “beauty” changes with the times. Looking back on your past, what’s the most ridiculous beauty regimen you ever underwent?
9. The author manages to paint Aibileen with a quiet grace and an aura of wisdom about her. How do you think she does this?
10. Do you think there are still vestiges of racism in relationships where people of color work for people who are white? Have you heard stories of someone who put away their valuable jewelry before their nanny comes — so they trust this person to look after their child, but not their diamond rings?
11. What did you think about Minny’s pie for Miss Hilly? Would you have gone as far as Minny did for revenge?