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The Help by Kathryn Stockett



The Help by Kathryn Stockett is told from the perspectives of three women who had the courage to tell the story of what it was like to be “the help” in the 1960s. Skeeter, a recent college graduate returning home to Jackson, and two of the black maids, Aibileen and Minny secretly work together, while encouraging others to tell their stories. The three women, and the town of Jackson, will never be the same again.

The Help by Katherine Stockett The Help by Kathryn Stockett is told from the perspectives of three women who had the courage to tell the story of what it was like to be “the help” in the 1960s.Eugenia, also called Skeeter,  returns to Jackson, Mississippi after graduating college in the 1960s.   Her mother wants nothing more than for her to have a ring on her finger, but Skeeter has bigger plans.  She is an aspiring writer and, when trying to find something that moves her to write about, she turns to the black help who raised many of the white children, but were forced to use an outside restroom.  Skeeter had a strong relationship with the black maid who helped raise her and who mysteriously left the household while Skeeter was away at college.  The Help is told from the perspective of Skeeter and two of the black maids, Aibileen and Minny who help her with her secret writing project.   Despite being afraid of what would happen to them, other black maids soon told their stories.   The three women, and the town of Jackson, will never be the same again.

Book Club Ideas for The Help

 

The book club party for The Help was held in the library and I let the books do most of the decorating. Looking back though, I wish I would have put a vase of azaleas on the table or maybe some branches from a mimosa tree (Go Celia!)

Books that can be used for decoration include those about the civil rights movement such as Walking With The Wind: A Memoir of The Movement by Lewis and D’Orso and The Civil Rights Movement: A Photographic History by Steven Kasher

Growing up we always had The Farmer’s Almanac, which Skeeter’s mom was reading. I was excited to see it is still being published. The kids’ books that Aibilene reads to Mae Mobley, Curious George and Madeline, also brought back memories.

Crisco all vegetable shortening Minny believes that Crisco is “the most important invention in the kitchen since jarred mayonnaise.” She then goes into the many uses of Crisco including getting gum out of your hair, diaper rash, eye cream, dry feet, taking price tags off, squeaky door hinges, and if you stick a wick in it, it can be a candle. Aibileen played a game with her son where he would have to come up with a fancy word for a simple word she gave him. He was stumped on Crisco. It then became a joke between them where Crisco meant something you can’t dress up no matter how hard you try. They then used it to describe his daddy.

Music

The Help talks about Skeeter listening to Patsy Cline on the day her plane crashed. I forgot how amazing her music is!

When Skeeter hears Bob Dylan’s song The Times They Are A-Changin’ she thinks it is better than anything she has ever heard. She feels like she just heard something from the future. Very wise, Skeeter.

Patsy Cline music Bob Dylan Music

For a variety of different artists, I recommend Pure 60s: The #1 hits. Your guests will be dancing in their chairs and singing along to the music.


Book Club Menu for The Help

Southern drink recipes, mint We started the evening with mint juleps on the front porch as we greeted the new arrivals.

Southern cooking is a must for a book club menu for The Help.

beans, cornbread, southern recipes

sweet potato recipes, southern food

southern recipes

I also bought a Chocolate Pie. I displayed the packaging next to it so my guests would know that it was store bought.

chocolates recipes, whipped cream

 

There are many other food references in the book that can be used to plan a book club party menu for The Help.

  • Celia was feeding her husband grits and corn pone everyday, until Minny came along.
  • The food that Minny made for Mr. Johnny’s supper includes pork chops, fried chicken, roast beef, chicken pie, lamb rack, baked ham, fried tomatoes and mashed potatoes. Minny would also make ham with pineapples, black-eyed peas, apple pie and biscuits.
  • One night, Minny had fried okra and peach cobbler for dinner.
  • Stuart and Skeeter eat strawberry souffles with a glass of Chablis at the Robert E. Lee just before he kissed her.
  • Coca-Cola is a beverage that is mentioned many times.

Book Club Resources

Ratings at the time this post was published

Goodreads:  4.46 stars (100,162 reviews)
Amazon: 4.5  stars (3078 reviews)
Barnes & Noble:  4.5 stars (5018 reviews)
My Rating:  5 stars

Purchase The Help by Kathryn Stockett from your favorite bookseller

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Reviews

  • “It’s graceful and real, a compulsively readable story of three women who watch the Mississippi ground shifting beneath their feet as the words of men like Martin Luther King Jr. and Bob Dylan pervade their genteel town. When folks at your book club wonder what to read next month, go on and pitch this wholly satisfying novel with confidence. A-“ — Entertainment Weekly
  • “Set in the rural South of the 1960′s, THE HELP is a startling, resonant portrait of the intertwined lives of women on opposite sides of the racial divide. Stockett’s many gifts – a keen eye for character, a wicked sense of humor, the perfect timing of a natural born storyteller – shine as she evokes a time and place when black women were expected to help raise white babies, and yet could not use the same bathroom as their employers. Her characters, both white and black, are so fully fleshed they practically breathe – no stock villains or pious heroines here. I’m becoming an evangelist for The Help. Don’t miss this wise and astonishing debut.” –Joshilyn Jackson, Bestselling author of Gods in Alabama
  • “Some books are so good that I’ll stay awake all night to finish reading them. The Help is one of those books. It also happens to be one of the best fiction books I’ve read about race relations and the birth of the civil rights movement” – Mamanista! Blog

Discussion Questions for The Help

  1. Did you like how the story was told from the perspective of three different characters?  How did it add or detract from the story?  Would you have preferred to hear the story from only one of the characters?  Which one?
  2. Who was your favorite character?  Why?
  3. Think about Skeeter at the beginning and end of the book.  How has she changed?
  4. How important is the setting in Jackson, MS?  How would the book have been different had it taken place somewhere else?
  5. Did you learn anything new about the civil rights movement?
  6. Imagine Skeeter 5 years after the story ends.  What is she doing?  Where does she live?  What about the other characters?

Other Book Club Resources

The society ladies often played bridge when they got together. Click here to learn the rules of the game.

The Author

Kathryn Stockett was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. After graduating from the University of Alabama with a degree in English and Creative Writing, she moved to New York City, where she worked in magazine publishing and marketing for nine years. The Help is her first novel.


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  1. This is the first book we are having book club for at the Assisted Living I work at. Your suggestions have just turned this from a good activity, to a great activity! Thanks so much!!

    Comment by Susie on July 22, 2012 at 3:59 pm

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