“This could be one of the most important pieces of fiction since To Kill a Mockingbird …If you read only one book…let this be it.”
With the front cover having such a glowing reference who could resist!
So to another justice issue – that of civil rights in the southern states of the US in the 1960s. Written from three different perspectives Aibileen, Minny and Skeeter, it is the story of life as a black maid in the white homes of Jackson Mississippi. The book follows aspiring writer Skeeter and her attempt to get the maids of Jackson to tell their stories in a time when few spoke out about the sanctioned racism that occurred. Initially I found it a difficult read, as I couldn’t “get” the voice of Aibileen, but as the story progressed I was captivated by the various different maids’ tales and those of their white mistresses. Having read and taught To Kill a Mockingbird to Year 10, I would easily recommend this book to the same students/year levels. However, I am not as comfortable with the author writing as Aibileen/Minny (i.e. as a black maid)as I am with Lee writing as Scout (a white child observing black/white relations) but Stockett addresses this issue in an essay at the end. Given that there is a movie (I haven’t seen it) and useful discussion questions at the end, it also ticks some boxes as a teaching tool.