The Help

Author: Kathryn Stockett


Publisher: Penguin Books

Subjects: Family, Political

If you like meaningful fiction this is one book you should not miss. The Help, by Kathryn Stockett is an amazingly well written book that is difficult to put down. A deeply moving story, the book shows how it is to be a black maid in the 1960s in Mississippi at a time when racial conflict was rife.

The plot is about a white woman who compiles accounts of black maids in complete secrecy. She wants them to show how it feels to be black maids in white households, how they cook the food, clean the house, serve the family and their guests, and raise the children, yet are treated so disgracefully. The risk of the project is great for if they are found out the consequences could be fatal. But the women are determined, using writing to let out the bitterness of their suppressed emotions.

The story revolves around three main characters, each with her own strengths and weaknesses. The characters are excellently portrayed and their lives woven together. It is easy to empathize with them, feel their joy and pain, laugh at their antics and fear for their safety. The story is intense and absorbing.

The author was born in Jackson Mississippi and writes how she also was brought up by a back maid whom she loved. Black maids brought up children who grew closely attached to them, only to grow up and realize the truth about racial segregation. Thus, she lived in a household similar to what she writes about.

A touching book full of humour and insights into the lives of the women of that time. Add it to your list of good reads!

The Kite Runner

Author: Khaled Hosseini

Kite Runner

Publisher: Riverhead Books

Subjects: Historical Fiction, Drama

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini is a story about two childhood friends from Afghanistan. It starts out in California in the present and then goes back in time to a town in Afghanistan where the author beautifully illustrates an unusual – but not unique – friendship between the son of a wealthy man and the son of his father’s servant. These two lead parallel lives in their own social and cultural standing but then come together whenever they can and enjoy the fruit of a loving friendship, especially while flying kites. The fathers approve and support this friendship. However, over time an incident happens that causes the two boys to drift apart until the present time when the true value of their friendship is tested.

Based in Afghanistan the story beautifully showcases the political and social unrest in the country while taking the readers through the lives of these two friends who come from such different backgrounds. Social, cultural, and political issues all come to play in this novel with the atrocities of the Taliban playing a pivotal role in the second half of the book.

The Kite Runner comes highly recommended as it is a captivating read that outlines friendship, love, betrayal, and redemption; it is culturally rich and at the same time gives the reader a portrait of Afghanistan and a glimpse into the lives and workings of the Taliban.