📚 The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Reviewed Mar. 2020

Narrator: Jenna Lamia, Bahni Turpin, Octavia Spencer, Cassandra Campbell
Length: 18 hours 16 minutes
Publisher: Penguin Audio⎮2008

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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 17th 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.

Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.

In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women - mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends - view one another.

The Audiobookworm's Review

Rating: 5 Stars

I originally read The Help back around 2010. I had just received a Kindle and was on a major reading binge. Recently, I've decided to revisit the books I read during my Kindle phase (2007-2012), but this time on audio.

I remember enjoying The Help when I first read it, but this time around, I was absolutely blown away by how much I was able to fall in love with it all over again. It was like a brand new story to me. Enough time had passed since my previous experience that I was able to see it with new eyes. The story had obviously not changed, but I clearly had.

This time around, The Help was actually became a comfort listen. That really surprised me, considering the purposefully uncomfortable nature of the story and its overt themes of segregation, racism, classism, and feminism. When I first read it, it was eye-opening. There was this somewhat scary sense of enlightenment. This time around, however, I found myself much more comfortable listening to these themes. This realization caused me to do a lot of reflecting on my own evolution over the past decade, as well as that of society. I've learned that this sort of introspection is necessary for personal growth and the more you do it, the less awkward it becomes.

What I'm saying is that we all have (or should have) these literary wake up calls and The Help was one of mine. It was the first time I had read anything that caused me to step out of my comfort zone and view life from the perspective of someone of a different race than me. Now, I actively seek out these types of works.

The Help is the type of story I could listen to over and over again. It's a true classic. It was my last listen of 2019. At that point, I had given up reaching my goal of 100 audiobooks that year (I was like 12 books behind), but I wanted to hear something enjoyable to end my year on a good note. Ending the decade with The Help felt like coming full circle.

If any of you read The Help when it was first released, I encourage you to revisit this story and note your reactions to it. See if/how they have changed. And I definitely encourage you to listen to the audiobook.

Narration review: Now, what really made this audiobook such a comfort listen was the narration. It was next level. Octavia Spencer, in particular, is such a joy to listen to. I loved her parts of the audiobook. Even though I hadn't seen the movie at that point, I was still able to picture the cast as I listened to the audiobook.

Fantastic writing coupled with perfect narration made for an unforgettable listening experience. I will undoubtedly be revisiting this modern classic several times in the future. It also makes for a great slump-buster! ♣︎

Let me know what you think!

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