By: Kathryn Stockett
My Rating: Five out of five stars.
Best for: 16 and up
Dedicated to those who think everything magically got better after Martin Luther King
Here’s my recommendation.
Next time you’re in Atlanta, don’t just go to The World of Coke and the Aquarium. Take time to go to the other building in the same plaza–The National Center for Civil and Human Rights. You’ll enjoy the Aquarium and you’ll have fun in the tasting room at The World of Coke. (Make sure you try the Beverly first…iykyk.) But The National Center for Civil and Human Rights will change you.
The Center documents the US Civil Rights movement and reveals the Human Rights challenges that continue to persist around the world today. You think you know? You don’t. One powerful experience–don headphones and participate in a lunch counter sit-in simulation to put yourself in the shoes of non-violent protestors in 1960. Holy cow–it’s been a handful of years for me and I’m still moved by it.
Reading books like The Help are important, too. They add to building your mind around this history that we’d all like to ignore but imperatively must not.
The Help is set in Jackson, Mississippi in the early 1960s. After Rosa Parks, but before MLK led the march on Washington and told everyone about his Dream. It tells the story of black women who worked for white families cleaning house, making meals, and caring for children. Through the eyes of “the help,” we experience the prejudice, desperation, frustration, and injustice that will forever color that period. Once the plot was clear and the conflict established, I found the characters so excellent and the story so engrossing I unexpectedly discovered I couldn’t put it down! What was going to happen! I NEEDED to know! How was it going to end!
It ends wonderfully.
There is some sensitive content you may want to know about going in. Obviously, this book is about being black in the 1960s, and that by itself makes this book heavy. The N word is in there quite a bit, as is the Sh word. There is a scene where a woman experience a messy and descriptive miscarriage. There is a scene where two women see a naked and aroused man outside their home. They confront him, he’s gross, things get violent, and his man parts get some uncomfortable attention. All that to say–I recommend The Help for 16 and up, although my 12-year-old and are reading it together for a book club.
If you haven’t read The Help yet, you probably should. Seeing the movie, as always, doesn’t count.