At First Sight: Known as Skeeter to her friends, Eugenia Phelan finally returns to Jackson, Mississippi in 1962, after finishing college, with the dream of becoming a writer but not knowing what to write about, bothered by the sameness of her days in Jackson and by the absence of Constantine, the black maid who raised her and who is suddenly gone.
Finally, she stumbles into an idea, in part because of talking to Aibileen - her best friend Elizabeth's maid - about writing what is like for the black women waiting on white families in the South before civil rights.
Aibileen has brought up 17 children, and is just starting to find a new normalcy after the death of her only son. At first, she is reluctant to help but eventually takes up the project as her own and convinces her friend Minny to help out too.
Minny starts thinking that what Skeeter and Aibileen are doing is foolish, until Hilly - the daughter of Minny's former employer and all around Queen Bee and mean spirited person - pushes her too far, and she eventually is the force that brings more maids into the project.
The three women lives twin and twist around the book Skeeter is pulling together, intersecting with the lives of the other people in Jackson for good and bad.
Second Glance: I'll admit I was worried about reading this book. It's not my usual and to be honest is quite long and that sometimes puts me off - I listened to it and it's 18 hrs long! - yet, the voices in the audio recording puled me in, right away. Part of me loved the slow narrative, how it builds and winds and goes on and on talking about every day life; and another part of me wished something would happen already!! but I kept listening.
And I'm glad I did, because it was a wonderful story in it's own quiet way, yet I'm not quite sure anything did happen in the end, though you do get a glimpse of what happens to the main characters.
However, I often found myself wishing the Skeeter parts would speed up already, and sometimes that happened with the other narrators as well. My favorite characters were the Footes, Celia and Johnny, who are Minny's new bosses, their story touched me the most.
Bottom Line: The Help is an interesting story, I'm not ready to say it's an instant classic or anything of the sort. But it was a good story, I really liked listening to it, though I don't see myself re-reading it soon, there were magic moments in the story telling that make it worth the long while that it took me to get through it.
Favorite Quote: "...it was like something cracked open inside of me, not unlike a watermelon, cool and soothing and sweet. I always thought insanity would be a dark, bitter feeling, but it is drenching and delicious if you really roll around in it." - Skeeter.2/3