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The success story of 2009. More than 1.9 million copies have been printed. Find out why everyone loves this book... before they finish making the movie!
The book that has taken the US and UK by storm.
Enter a vanished and unjust world: Jackson, Mississippi, 1962. Where black maids raise white children, but aren't trusted not to steal the silver...
There's Aibileen, raising her seventeenth white child and nursing the hurt caused by her own son's tragic death; Minny, whose cooking is nearly as sassy as her tongue; and white Miss Skeeter, home from College, who wants to know why her beloved maid has disappeared.
Skeeter, Aibileen and Minny. No one would believe they'd be friends; fewer still would tolerate it. But as each woman finds the courage to cross boundaries, they come to depend and rely upon one another. Each is in a search of a truth. And together they have an extraordinary story to tell...
About The Author
Kathryn Stockett was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. After graduating from the University of Alabama with a degree in English and Creative Writing, she moved to New York City where she worked in magazine publishing and marketing for nine years. She currently lives in Atlanta with her husband and daughter. The Help is her first novel.
Two days later, I sit in my parent's kitchen, waiting for dusk to fall.
I give in and light another cigarette even though last night the
surgeon general came on the television set and shook his finger at
everybody, trying to convince us that smoking will kill us. But Mother
once told me tongue kissing would turn me blind and I'm starting to
think it's all just a big plot between the surgeon general and Mother
to make sure no one ever has any fun.
At eight o'clock that same night, I'm stumbling down Aibileen's street
as discreetly as one can carrying a fifty-pound Corona typewriter. I
knock softly, already dying for another cigarette to calm my nerves.
Aibileen answers and I slip inside. She's wearing the same green dress
and stiff black shoes as last time.
I try to smile, like I'm confident it will work this time, despite the
idea she explained over the phone. "Could we . . . sit in the kitchen
this time?" I ask. "Would you mind?"
"Alright. Ain't nothing to look at, but come on back."
The kitchen is about half the size of the living room and warmer. It
smells like tea and lemons. The black-and-white linoleum floor has been
scrubbed thin. There's just enough counter for the china tea set. I set
the typewriter on a scratched red table under the window. Aibileen
starts to pour the hot water into the teapot.
"Oh, none for me, thanks," I say and reach in my bag. "I brought
us some Co-Colas if you want one." I've tried to come up with ways to
make Aibileen more comfortable. Number One: Don't make Aibileen feel
like she has to serve me.
"Well, ain't that nice. I usually don't take my tea till later anyway."
She brings over an opener and two glasses. I drink mine straight from
the bottle and seeing this, she pushes the glasses aside, does the same.
I called Aibileen after Elizabeth gave me the note, and listened
hopefully as Aibileen told me her idea--for her to write her own words
down and then show me what she's written. I tried to act excited. But I
know I'll have to rewrite everything she's written, wasting even more
time. I thought it might make it easier if she could see it in
type-face instead of me reading it and telling her it can't work this
We smile at each other. I take a sip of my Coke, smooth my blouse. "So
. . ." I say.
Aibileen has a wire-ringed notebook in front of her. "Want me to . .
.just go head and read?"
"Sure," I say.
We both take deep breaths and she begins reading in a slow, steady
"My first white baby to ever look after was named Alton Carrington
Speers. It was 1924 and I'd just turned fifteen years old. Alton was a
long, skinny baby with hair fine as silk on a corn . . ."
I begin typing as she reads, her words rhythmic, pronounced more
clearly than her usual talk. "Every window in that filthy house was
painted shut on the inside, even though the house was big with a wide
green lawn. I knew the air was bad, felt sick myself . . ."
"Hang on," I say. I've typed wide greem. I blow on the typing fluid,
retype it. "Okay, go ahead."
"When the mama died, six months later," she reads, "of the lung
disease, they kept me on to raise Alton until they moved away to
Memphis. I loved that baby and he loved me and that's when I knew I was
good at making children feel proud of themselves . . ."
I hadn't wanted to insult Aibileen when she told me her idea. I tried
to urge her out of it, over the phone. "Writing isn't that easy. And
you wouldn't have time for this anyway, Aibileen, not with a full-time
"Can't be much different than writing my prayers every night."
It was the first interesting thing she'd told me about herself since
we'd started the project, so I'd grabbed the shopping pad in the
pantry. "You don't say your prayers, then?"
"I never told nobody that before. Not even Minny. Find I can get my
point across a lot better writing em down."
"So this is what you do on the weekends?" I asked. "In your spare
time?" I liked the idea of capturing her life outside of work, when she
wasn't under the eye of Elizabeth Leefolt.
"Oh no, I write a hour, sometimes two ever day. Lot a ailing, sick
in this town."
I was impressed. That was more than I wrote on some days. I told her
we'd try it just to get the project going again.
Aibileen takes a breath, a swallow of Coke, and reads on.
She backtracks to her first job at thirteen, cleaning the Francis the
First silver service at the governor's mansion. She reads how on her
first morning, she made a mistake on the chart where you filled in the
number of pieces so they'd know you hadn't stolen anything.
"I come home that morning, after I been fired, and stood outside my
house with my new work shoes on. The shoes my mama paid a month's worth
a light bill for. I guess that's when I understood what shame was and
the color of it too. Shame ain't black, like dirt, like I always
thought it was. Shame be the color of a new white uniform your mother
ironed all night to pay for, white without a smudge or a speck a
work-dirt on it."
Aibileen looks up to see what I think. I stop typing. I'd expected the
stories to be sweet, glossy. I realize I might be getting more than I'd
bargained for. She reads on.
". . . so I go on and get the chiffarobe straightened out and before I
know it, that little white boy done cut his fingers clean off in that
window fan I asked her to take out ten times. I never seen that much
red come out a person and I grab the boy, I grab them four fingers.
Tote him to the colored hospital cause I didn't know where the white
one was. But when I got there, a colored man stop me and say, Is this
boy white? The typewriter keys are clacking like hail on a roof.
Aibileen is reading faster and I am ignoring my mistakes, stopping her
only to put in another page. Every eight seconds, I fling the carriage
"And I says Yessuh, and he say, Is them his white fingers? And I say,
Yessuh, and he say, Well you better tell them he your high yellow cause
that colored doctor won't operate on a white boy in a Negro hospital.
And then a white policeman grab me and he say, Now you look a here--"
She stops. Looks up. The clacking ceases.
"What? The policeman said look a here what?"
"Well, that's all I put down. Had to catch the bus for work this
I hit the return and the typewriter dings. Aibileen and I look each
other straight in the eye. I think this might actually work.
ISBN: 9780241950807 ISBN-10: 0241950805 Audience:
Number Of Pages: 450 Published: 30th August 2010 Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd Country of Publication: GB Dimensions (cm): 19.8 x 13.3
Weight (kg): 0.33
Edition Number: 1