One of my Best of 2009 titles is The Help , a debut novel by Kathryn Stockett. This historical fiction novel takes place during the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement in the early 1960s and is an exploration of the southern culture of black maids raising the children in white families. There are 3 narrators. Eugenia is a naive white girl, a budding social activist who is home from college with a journalism degree. She doesn't subscribe to the racist attitudes that surround her and she decides to write a book about the experiences of maids in the community. Abileen is a black maid who has raised 17 white children and shares her experiences with Eugenia, and Minny, also a maid, is a sassy tell-it-like-it-is backtalker who constantly loses jobs.
This book offers a unique point-of-view perspective. The 1960s is a free South but still has the conditions of black servitude a century after the Civil War. It reveals the power of white women who trust black maids to raise their children yet despise them and can control their lives-even ruin them. This is also a story that runs the full gamut of emotions without being melodramatic. It is one of that small group of books you read where you get to the end of the book and you don't want it to end. You will laugh, you will cry, and you will thoroughly enjoy this book.