Sometimes belonging to a book group makes you read books you would never have come across on your own. This is one of them.
The story takes place in the years of the Second World War in the Mississippi Delta. It's told in multiple voices, which gives us insight into a number of characters, all of them wrestling with the lot fate has dealt them.
Two returning soldiers both struggle with what the war has done to them--one white, one black. The black soldier has actually been treated better as a soldier in Europe than he will ever be in the South of the 1940s.
The black soldier's family, sharecroppers, wrestle with the indignities forced on them in that era (leaving stores by back doors, taking what's left of virtually everything). The wife of the land owner (and they are not rich either) is college-educated but must live in a shack when her husband loses their potential house to a sharper bidder. Their marriage is not an easy one.
All of these characters have noble moments and lesser ones. The Mississippi of THE HELP looks more evolved than twenty years earlier. This is a sad book but one that will stay with you.
For more First Wednesday book review, check out Barrie Summy.