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The Help by Kathryn Stockett
The Help is set in 1962 Mississippi and Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan has recently graduated from Ole Miss. She got her degree without getting what was most expected from her college years by her peers—a husband. The other women in town hold racist attitudes and disdain for the black maids who have raised their children for them. Skeeter is appalled by some of their behavior and decides to write a book about "the help," the black maids' experiences in white households. She needs collaboration from the maids, though, even though she plans to use fictitious names for them. She's finally aided by Aibileen, a black woman who has raised 17 white children while losing her own son to racist attitudes, and Minny, a maid who is lauded for her cooking yet constantly fired when she talks back to verbal abuse. The lives of these women stand in stark contrast to the privileged whites who employ them at a time when civil rights reform begin to rumble deep in the South. Kathryn Stockett's debut novel has received positive reviews with USA Today saying, "Her pitch-perfect depiction of a country's gradual path toward integration will pull readers into a compelling story that doubles as a portrait of a country struggling with racial issues. It's early in 2009, but this is already one of the best debut novels of the year."