The Mortal Instrements

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Help [Book / Movie]

The Help is a 2009 novel by American author Kathryn Stockett. The story is about African American maids working in white households in Jackson, Mississippi during the early 1960s. 

A USA Today article called it one of 2009's "summer sleeper hits". An early review in The New York Times notes Stockett's "affection and intimacy buried beneath even the most seemingly impersonal household connections" and says the book is a "button-pushing, soon to be wildly popular novel". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said of the book, "This heartbreaking story is a stunning début from a gifted talent".

The novel is Stockett's first. It took her five years to complete, and was then rejected by 60 literary agents before agent Susan Ramer agreed to represent Stockett. The Help has since been published in 35 countries and three languages. As of August 2011, it has sold five million copies and has spent more than 100 weeks on The New York Times Best Seller list.

The Help's audiobook version is narrated by Jenna Lamia, Bahni Turpin, Octavia Spencer, and Cassandra Campbell. Spencer was Stockett's original inspiration for the character of Minny, and also plays her in the film adaptation.
I LOVE the audiobook version! It's the reason, really, that I finished the book this year! 

The Help: A Novel | February 10, 2009
Book Description
Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step.

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.

Book Description
Enter a vanished and unjust world: Jackson, Mississippi, 1962. Where black maids raise white children, but aren't trusted not to steal the silver...

There's Aibileen, raising her seventeenth white child and nursing the hurt caused by her own son's tragic death; Minny, whose cooking is nearly as sassy as her tongue; and white Miss Skeeter, home from College, who wants to know why her beloved maid has disappeared.

Skeeter, Aibileen and Minny. No one would believe they'd be friends; fewer still would tolerate it. But as each woman finds the courage to cross boundaries, they come to depend and rely upon one another. Each is in a search of a truth. And together they have an extraordinary story to tell…


Plot Summary:
The Help is set in the early 1960s in Jackson, Mississippi and told mainly from the perspective of three women: Aibileen, Minny, and Skeeter. Aibileen is a black maid who cleans houses and cares for the young children of various white families. Her first job since her own 24-year-old son was killed on his job, is caring for toddler Mae Mobley Leefolt. Minny is Aibileen's confrontational friend who frequently tells her employers what she thinks of them. Her actions have led to her being fired from 19 jobs. Minny's most recent employer was Mrs. Walters, mother of Hilly Holbrook. Hilly is the social leader of the community, and head of the Junior League. She is the nemesis of all three main characters.

Miss Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan is the daughter of a prominent white family whose cotton farm employs many African-Americans in the fields, as well as in the household. Skeeter has just finished college and comes home with big dreams of becoming a writer; her mother's big dream for her is to get her married, although Skeeter is not interested. What does interest her is that Constantine, the maid who raised her, is nowhere to be found: Skeeter's family tells her that Constantine abruptly quit and went to live with relatives in Chicago. Constantine had been writing to Skeeter the whole time she was away at college and the most recent letter had promised her a surprise upon her homecoming. Skeeter does not consider Constantine's unexplained absence a good surprise and wonders what happened, but nobody will discuss Constantine.

This discussion awakens Skeeter to the realization that her friends' maids are treated very differently from how white people are treated. She decides that she wants to reveal the truth to the world from the maids' perspectives by writing a book about it. Written in the first person from the perspective of Aibileen, Minny and Skeeter, the struggles Skeeter experiences to communicate with the maids and gain their trust is revealed, as well as the issues of overcoming long-standing barriers in customs and laws by all of the characters. The daily lives of Southern homemakers and their maids during the early 1960s in Mississippi are explored. The dangers of undertaking writing a book about African-Americans speaking out in the South during the early '60s hover constantly over the three women.

My Shelfari Review:
On my copy there is a review that says if you want to read only one book this year, let "The Help" be it. A friend told me she read the book but found it rather strange, months later I saw the movie trailer, so I decided I NEED to read this book, I got it and yesterday I read chapter one. If I'm going to review this book for the first chapter than it will be a 5 stars book. Hope the book will stay just as good all through.

One of my favorite things about this book is the title. It has two edges, one being "The Help" as in servants, the other "The Help" referring to a situation that needs a solution.

I'm almost done [‎Wednesday, ‎December ‎21, ‎2011] I watched the movie first but didn't find it great, but when I reached half of the book and re-watched the movie, it grew on me. One of the best things about this book, is that it talks about a heavy subject: Racism; but at the same time, you see that both white and black people are both good and evil in perfect measures.

I hate when I read a book, and the evil person is purely evil and the good person is purely good. I believe that as humans we are both. I liked how the author viewed Hilly, though she doesn't think black and white should intertwine she is a great mother and a wife, who loves her best-friends and cares about their happiness.

The book lost a star for me, because of chapter 24! Can I say EW!! I HATE to read about stuff like that! Disturbing! Thank God so many pieces of the book is not in the movie, like this chapter and Skeeter's weird courtship.

My favorite characters are Celia Foote and Aibileen Clark.

The Help: The Movie | August 10, 2011

The Help is a 2011 comedy-drama film adaptation of Kathryn Stockett's novel of the same name. 

The film is an ensemble piece about a young white woman, Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan, and her relationship with two black maids during Civil Rights era America in the early 1960s. Skeeter is a journalist who decides to write a controversial book from the point of view of the maids (known as the Help), exposing the racism they are faced with as they work for white families.

The film takes place in Jackson, Mississippi, and stars Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jessica Chastain, Sissy Spacek, Mike Vogel, Mary Steenburgen, and Allison Janney. 

The Help opened to positive reviews and became a box office success with gross of $201.9 million against its budget of $25 million.

DVD Description
The #1 New York Times bestseller by Kathryn Stockett comes to vivid life through the powerful performances of a phenomenal ensemble cast. Led by Emma Stone, Academy Award®-nominated Viola Davis (Best Supporting Actress, Doubt, 2008), Octavia Spencer and Bryce Dallas Howard, The Help is an inspirational, courageous and empowering story about very different, extraordinary women in the 1960s South who build an unlikely friendship around a secret writing project — one that breaks society’s rules and puts them all at risk. Filled with poignancy, humor and hope — and complete with compelling, never-before-seen bonus features — The Help is a timeless, universal and triumphant story about the ability to create change. 

Plot Summary:
Aibileen Clark (Viola Davis) is a middle-aged black maid who has spent her life raising white children and has recently lost her only son. Minny Jackson (Octavia Spencer) is another black maid whose outspokenness has gotten her fired many times and built up a reputation for being a difficult employee, but she makes up for this with her phenomenal cooking skills.

Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan (Emma Stone) is a young white woman who has recently moved back home to her family's plantation after graduating from the University of Mississippi to find that her beloved childhood maid, Constantine, has quit while she was away. Skeeter is skeptical because she believes Constantine would have written to her.

Unlike her friends, who have all married and are having children, Skeeter is interested in a career as a writer. Her first job is as a "homemaker hints" columnist in the local paper, and she asks Aibileen, the maid to her good friend Elizabeth, for her help in answering domestic questions. Skeeter becomes uncomfortable with the attitude her friends have towards their "help," especially Hilly Holbrook (Bryce Dallas Howard) and her "Home Help Sanitation Initiative," a proposed bill to provide for separate bathrooms for black help because she believes that 'they' [black people] carry different diseases to 'us' [white people]. Amidst the era of discrimination based on color, Skeeter is one of the few who believe otherwise, and she decides to write a book, Help, based on the lives of the maids who have spent their entire lives taking care of white children.

The maids are at first reluctant to talk to Skeeter, because they are afraid that they will lose their jobs or worse. Aibileen is the first to share her stories after she overhears Hilly's initiative and realizes that the children whom she has been raising are growing up to be just like their parents. Her friend, Minny, has just been fired as Hilly's maid (for something she refers to as "the terrible awful") and has gone to work for a wealthy social outcast, Celia Foote. Minny initially declines to participate but later agrees to share her stories as well.

Skeeter writes a draft of the story with Minny and Aibileen's stories in it and sends it to Miss Stein, an editor for Harper Row, in New York, who thinks there may be some interest in it, but requires at least a dozen more maids' contributions before it can become a viable book. Believing that the book will only be publishable during the Civil Rights movement, which she likewise believes is a passing fad, Stein advises Skeeter to finish the book soon. No one comes forward until after Medgar Evers is assassinated in Jackson, Mississippi, and until after having witnessed Hilly's latest maid's brutal arrest (for pawning one of Hilly's rings to pay for her twins' college tuition, after Hilly had refused to give her a loan) – with racial tensions running high, the maids realize that Skeeter's book will give them an opportunity for their voices to be heard, and Skeeter suddenly has numerous stories to include.

Minny shares one last story with Skeeter and Aibileen, which she calls the "Terrible Awful," to ensure that no one will think that the book was written about Jackson, Mississippi. As revenge for firing her and accusing her of stealing, Minny bakes a chocolate pie and delivers it to Hilly. After Hilly has finished two slices, Minny informs her that she has baked her own feces into the pie. Minny tells Aibilene and Skeeter that by adding that part into the book, Hilly will try to prevent anyone from figuring out that she made her eat human feces and will convince the town that the book is not about Jackson.

I LOVE this cover!

The book is accepted for publication and is a success, much to the delight of Skeeter and the maids. She shares her royalties with each of the maids who contributed, and is offered a job with a publishing company in New York. Later in the afternoon, Hilly hatches a plan to get rid of Aibileen as her help, by falsely accusing her of stealing silver while arranging it for meetings. As Aibileen tries to convince Hilly and Elizabeth of her innocence, Elizabeth's daughter, Mae Mobley, arrives and jumps on top of her, watching Aibileen being fired. Aibileen renounces Hilly as a godless woman and tells her that she will never have peace if she continues her vindictive ways and leaves her in limbo. Elizabeth is forced to accept the unacceptable firing of Aibileen, and Mae Mobley cries by the window shouting for Aibileen, as the maid leaves to start her own life.

In Magazines:

The movie is so similar to the book with few adjustment, like some deleted scenes and twisting the events to suit the movie version better.

Till now I saw the movie twice. Once before I read the book and once after.
Let me tell you this: A world of difference!

I changed my view of the movie after reading the book and understanding the characters better.

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