The Help by Kathryn Stockett is set in the 1960’s in Mississippi where there was strong racial discrimination against anyone who was black. The context of the story was that while other areas in the US were slowly beginning to embrace a more humane attitude towards the black people, Mississippi was not. In fact, the opposite seems to be the case with many of the characters in the book having first hand experiences of unfair treatment at the hands of white employers. At this time many black women were employed, often below the minimum salary rate, as maids and nannies. Two of these women become key players in the story as their lives intersect with a young white girl who has just finished college and was not content to find a husband and get married. This girl wanted to pursue a career in writing and possibly journalism so she decided to write a book about what it was like being a black maid for a white employer. Of course, she needed to research the maids in order to do this and there was a severe reluctance by many of them to get involved in such a dangerous project. But if you suppress a minority look enough through injustice and substandard living and working conditions then one day they will revolt.
This was a very believable story and it was well put together with different chapters written in different voices which works well and maintains interest. I didn’t always enjoy reading about the injustices these black women suffered but it was a good story with a satisfying ending.