Debut a bestseller for Stockett |

Debut a bestseller for Stockett

“The Help,” by Kathryn Stockett, is a fictional story set in Jackson, Miss., during the early 1960s, told from three points of view. Skeeter, an educated and prosperous young woman with no real plans for the future, is white. Aibileen and Minny, the titular help who reveal their stories, are black.

Stockett has created three extraordinary women, whose determination to start a movement of their own, forever changes a town. “The Help” is a deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor and hope. This is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by and the ones we don’t.

It is about courageous and determined women who are not afraid to talk about, and eventually write about, what they believe. These are women who pushed the envelope. The lovingly wise and maternal Aibileen and the angry, scrappy Minny, leap off the page in all their warm, three-dimensional glory.

Between them, Aibileen and Minny have seen a lifetime of trouble and amusement – enough to fill a library. But Stockett leaves it up to Miss Skeeter to put the plot in motion.

Newly graduated from Ole Miss with a degree in English, but neither an engagement ring nor a steady boyfriend, Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan returns to her parents’ cotton farm in Jackson. Although it’s 1962, during the early years of the civil rights movement, she is largely unaware of the tensions gathering around her town. An aspiring writer, she decides to make her reputation by secretly interviewing black maids and compiling the experiences into one book. Maybe that will be her ticket to New York. Seemingly, as different from one another as can be, these women nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk.

This being Mississippi at the height of segregation, library sit-ins and NAACP assassinations, complications invariably ensue. The murders of Medgar Evers and Martin Luther King Jr. are seen through African American eyes, but go largely unobserved by the white community. The characters are portrayed with compassion and humor that keep the novel levitating above its serious theme in this illustrative tale of what it was like to be a black maid during the civil rights movement of the 1960s in the racially conflicted South.

The author was born and raised in Jackson, Miss., and graduated from University of Alabama with a degree in English and creative writing. This is her first novel.

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