The Help by Kathryn Stockett

4667024★★★

Poignant and touching, The Help unveils the stark reality of working as a black maid to a white mistress in the 1960s, and the ambivalent feelings between them.

This is a very character-driven novel, and we are introduced to the three protagonists early on. There’re the two maids: Missy, mouthy, ill-tempered, but soft at heart, and Aibileen, solid and steady as an anchor. There’s also Skeeter, the white socialite who bites off more than she can initially chew when she decides to write a book on the lives of black maids. From then on, the women are bound to each other, and they experience many of the same hopes and fears that are tied into the creation of the book. Watching their relationship evolve from distrust to respect and finally to fondness is what made this book shine for me. Read More »

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Before We Were Free by Julia Alvarez

17643 ★★★★

This book was beautiful. A harrowing tale of love and loss, a tale of freedom under the dictatorship of El Jefe in the Dominican Republic. It was eye-opening and enthralling, and this is a piece of literature I am all too happy to read.

Alvarez shines a light on a part of history commonly overlooked. While the rest of the world was focused on the aftereffects of WW2 (the cold war), the Dominican Republic didn’t get much attention. It was just another Latin American country under the rule of a dictator. This book follows the people’s rebellion against El Jefe, and its profound effects on Anita, the daughter of a prominent face of the rebellion. The cause, though a good one, uproots Anita’s family and takes away her father and uncle. Anita goes through the struggle of being a kid during one of the biggest political upheavals the country has ever known. Read More »