It is 1962 in Mississippi. Black people are maids for white people to help raise the children and household chores. But they are not trusted not to steal anything.
Black people must use their own bathroom. Some white people believed that coloured people could pass on diseases.
Coloured people must live in their own areas, if you are caught mixing with whites ie friends. You will be beaten up.
This story is told by 3 people, 2 maids and a white person.
Aibileen has been raising children for years. Currently helping to raise her 17th white child. Tragically our own son died after working long and hard hours.
Minny – the best cook in all town but she a bit of a mouth on her. Raising 5 kids, a drunk husband and working all hours as a maid.
One day she had enough of how she was treated and crossed the boundaries that no one else would dare.
Miss Skeeter – Trying to find her place in the world as a writer. Miss Skeeter begins to question whether it is right for coloured people to be treated the way they are. Asking Aibileen if she wished things were different.
Throughout the book we discover the back story to all 3 women. Each chapter shows a different perspective.
As the characters merge together they all find a solution. Plus friendship they thought they could never had.
The Help shows how different the law between coloured people and white people were in 1962. Coloured people were not seen as equal as they should be. Separate libraries and separate toilets, separate villages.
This of course was not right, the three women decided to raise up and cross boundaries where no one else dared. They were too scared of the consequences. For example one coloured guy got beaten up for using a white person bathroom.
In a world dominated by white people, can coloured people become equals?
Although the story is not true, the author did have some experience. Kathryn grew up with a maid who she clearly felt a lot of love for. This woman had spent years taking her time to help raise her, find out what she likes and looked after her.
Both Minny and Aibileen are written in their own dialect. This can be tricky to get used to but once you get past this, the book is worth reading.