Books Like The Help
It took Kathryn Stockett five years to complete her novel, after which she had to face another three years of rejections by literary agents. However, undaunted by being rejected more than 60 times she persevered until her book was eventually published in 2009. The novel went on to sell millions of copies and has been published in numerous countries and in a number of different languages. It was also turned into an award winning film that fared well critically as well as commercially. The book tackled the difficult theme of racial interactions in the 1960's deep South and crafted a gripping and thought provoking tale around it. It has received favorable comparisons to classics, such as To Kill a Mockingbird, but if you are still left wanting more, then here are a few more books like The Help to read.
by Elizabeth Berg
We Are All Welcome Here by Elizabeth Berg is not only set during the same era as The Help, but also tells its story from the perspective of three different women, which is a formula that worked very successfully for the Kathryn Stockett novel. It is the story of Paige Dunn, a woman who contracted polio when she was pregnant, her 13 year old daughter Diana, and their African-American day worker named Peacie. Each of them have their own struggles, but their lives are also linked due to circumstances.
by Denise Nicholas
Freshwater Road is another novel that is set in the 1960's, this time in Mississippi during the Freedom Summer. As expected, the Civil Rights Movement features prominently in the tale as the protagonist, Celeste Tyree, is given the task of helping to register voters after volunteering her efforts. Celeste is only 19-years old, but unlike other black women of her age, she has had a relatively sheltered middle-class Northerner life. This prompts her decision to go South and assist other black people to vote, which is where she gains firsthand experience with the oppression and prejudice that is all too common there.
by Kathleen Grissom
The Kitchen House takes place in the late 1700's, which is a different era than The Help, but it explores similar themes. In this book the story unfolds from the perspective of two female characters, Lavinia and Belle. Lavinia is a seven-year old Irish girl who is orphaned when her parents die during the crossing to America. The ship's captain takes Lavinia in as an indentured servant on his tobacco plantation where she is raised by the African-American slaves who also work there. Belle, on the other hand, is the illegitimate daughter of the master, who takes Lavinia under her care.
by Anna Jean Mayhew
Woman's World magazine has called The Dry Grass of August a "must-read for fans of The Help" due to the similarities between the two novels. It is the heartbreaking tale set in 1954 of a thirteen-year old girl named Jubie Watts who begin to realize that people of different races are not treated equally. Jubie has a strong bond with the family's African-American maid, Mary, the woman who has been taking care of her for almost all her life. This bond is tested when something terrible happens on the way to a family vacation in Florida.
by Sue Monk Kidd
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd is also set against the backdrop of racial violence and unrest that was the hallmark of the 1960’s. The protagonist is a 14-year old girl named Lily Own, who lost her mother at a young age and was raised by Rosaleen, her beloved African-American nanny. However, when Rosaleen has an encounter with a group of racists on her way to register to vote, she has no choice but to leave town for her own safety. Lily decides that she would be better of going with Rosaleen and the two are taken in by a trio of middle-aged black sisters who are beekeepers.
by Hillary Jordan
Mudbound is set in the late 1940's and also features a story that is told from the first person viewpoint of multiple characters. The setting is a remote cotton farm in the Mississippi Delta that is inhabited by a white family as well as black tenant farmers. Both families have members who return to the Dela from World War II as celebrated soldiers, but they are obviously treated differently by their countrymen. However, because they were brothers-in-arms during the war, the two forge a friendship that unfortunately leads to a lot of tragedy.
by Minrose Gwin
The Queen of Palmyra is set in Mississippi during the 1960s and it is narrated by a young girl named Florence growing up in a town where the racial hatred runs deep. Her father is the local burial insurance salesman, but also the leader of the local Klansmen, while her mother spends her time drinking and baking cakes to make ends meet. This means that Florence spends most of her time at her grandparents in the company of their longtime African American maid, Zenie. Things take a turn for the worst when Zenie's niece shows up in town and tries to sell burial insurance in order to help pay for her college education, which obviously doesn't sit well with Florence's father.