The Help is a 2009 novel by American author Kathryn Stockett. The story is about African American maids working in white households in Jackson, Mississippi during the early 1960s.
The novel is told from the point of view of three narrators: Aibileen Clark, a middle-aged African-American maid who has spent her life raising white children, and who has recently lost her only son; Minny Jackson, an African-American maid whose back-talk towards her employers results in her having to frequently change jobs, exacerbating her desperate need for work as well as her family's struggle with money; and Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan, a young white woman and recent college graduate who, after moving back home, discovers that a maid that helped raise her since childhood has abruptly disappeared and her attempts to find her have been unsuccessful. The stories of the three women intertwine to explain how life in Jackson, Mississippi revolves around "the help", with complex relations of power, money, emotion, and intimacy tying together the white & black families of Jackson.
A USA Today article called it one of 2009's "summer sleeper hits". An early review in The New York Times notes Stockett's "affection and intimacy buried beneath even the most seemingly impersonal household connections" and says the book is a "button-pushing, soon to be wildly popular novel". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said of the book, "This heartbreaking story is a stunning debut from a gifted talent".
The novel is Stockett's first. It took her five years to complete the book, which was rejected by 60 literary agents before agent Susan Ramer agreed to represent Stockett.The Help has since been published in 35 countries and three languages.As of August 2011, it has sold five million copies and has spent more than a 100 weeks on the The New York Times Best Seller list.
The Help's audiobook version is narrated by Jenna Lamia, Bahni Turpin, Octavia Spencer, and Cassandra Campbell. Spencer was Stockett's original inspiration for the character of Minny.