This was a decently written, well-intentioned book, but ultimately I couldn't forget that I was a white woman reading about the lives of black women in the 1960s south as told by a white writer. It struck me there was an undercurrent of unexamined privilege here, despite Stockett's best efforts. Stockett did shine a light into some dark places in Mississipi's history, but her light only caught the surface, I think. She didn't really dig too deeply, and in the end it was all a bit glossy and Hallmark-y. I liked it overall, particularly the theme of storytelling as a revolutionary act, but it had some flaws and the ending was a bit too pat.
Watched the movie version of The Help with a couple of co-workers last night, and it finally crystallized for me why I was bothered by the story. I've always thought it's a story for white people written from a point-of-view of white privilege, but it struck me as I watched the film that what really bugged me is that it's yet another story about a benevolent white person swooping in to save the black people, which is a pity given that the civil rights movement itself is full of wonderful, inspiring stories about black people who empowered themselves. This is a story not about black empowerment, but about white guilt. And the white person gets rewarded for her benevolence while the black maids have to keep living the same oppressed lives. Nothing really changes for them, except that Minnie finds a benevolent white employer instead of a blatantly oppressive one. I liked the book, but it would have been so much more powerful if Aibelene had been the one to start the project instead of needing a white woman to help her find her voice.