All UrbanMoms Book Club members enjoyed this novel, and the discussion was as lively and spirited as the main characters in this great novel.
The Help introduces the reader to three strong-willed and remarkable women whose paths cross in 1962 Mississippi. Skeeter is a young university graduate who has returned home ready to start her life, but is being held back by the social constraints of her time. Abileen is a regal and proud black maid, raising her seventeenth white child. She’s starting to have doubts about her role in society and in the families she works with. Minny is Abileen’s best friend; she’s funny, proud and her sassiness has gotten her in trouble with one boss too many. These three women tell their wonderful stories in amazingly aunthentic voices.
What made this a fantastic book club choice was that, while the story was set half a century ago, in a very different place, we were able to recognize some themes that make it timeless and universal.
First, we all recognized that one could be a good mother and a flawed person. There are a number of characters in The Help who helped with this discussion. Hilly is obviously an unlikeable and racist person, but she really does seem to care about her children and struggle with the same dilemmas that many of us do as mothers.
We also had a really interesting discussion about the notion of whether racism was a trait taught at home or inherent in pre-Civil Rights Southern society, and the challenges an individual would face in rising about that racism.