The Help by Kathryn Stockett

The Help by Kathryn Stockett revolves around three southern women during the 1960s.

From the publisher: 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…


Book Club Ideas for The Help

Decorations for the book club party for The Help can include a vase of azaleas and if you have access to one, a mimosa branch.

I also enjoy decorating with books.  Here are several of the books I used:  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.  I also included The Farmer’s Almanac, which Skeeter’s mom was reading, and Curious George and Madeline, books Aibilene read to Mae Mobley.

I also set out a can of Crisco.

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. Her voice is amazing!

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.

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

I started the evening with a most southern swag.  I prepared a pitcher of refreshing mint juleps and sat on the front porch to enjoy with my guests until everyone arrived.

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

Celia’s Butter Beans served with Buttermilk Cornbread Muffins

Bourbon Sweet Potatoes

Minny’s Caramel Cake served in Old Fashioned glasses

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

 

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


Book Club Resources

Reviews

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?

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.