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Like One of the Family, which provides historical context for Kathryn Stockett's novel, The Help, is comprised of a series of conversations between Mildred, a black domestic, and her friend Marge. They create a vibrant picture of the life of a black working woman in New York in the 1950s. Rippling with satire and humor, Mildred’s outspoken accounts capture vividly her whit Like One of the Family, which provides historical context for Kathryn Stockett's novel, The Help, is comprised of a series of conversations between Mildred, a black domestic, and her friend Marge. They create a vibrant picture of the life of a black working woman in New York in the 1950s. Rippling with satire and humor, Mildred’s outspoken accounts capture vividly her white employers’ complacency and condescension—and startled reactions to a maid who speaks her mind. As Mildred declares to a patronizing employer that she is not just like one of the family, or explains to Marge how a tricky employer has created a system of “half days off” to cheat her help, we gain a glimpse not only of one woman’s day-to-day struggle, but of her previous ache of racial oppression. A domestic who refuses to exchange dignity for pay, Mildred is an inspiring conversationalist, a dragon slayer in a segregated world. The conversations in the book were first published in Freedom, the newspaper edited by Paul Robeson, and later in the Baltimore Afro-American. The book was originally published in the 1950s by in Brooklyn–based Independence Press, and Beacon Press brought out a new edition of it in 1986 with an introduction by the literary and cultural critic Trudier Harris.


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Like One of the Family, which provides historical context for Kathryn Stockett's novel, The Help, is comprised of a series of conversations between Mildred, a black domestic, and her friend Marge. They create a vibrant picture of the life of a black working woman in New York in the 1950s. Rippling with satire and humor, Mildred’s outspoken accounts capture vividly her whit Like One of the Family, which provides historical context for Kathryn Stockett's novel, The Help, is comprised of a series of conversations between Mildred, a black domestic, and her friend Marge. They create a vibrant picture of the life of a black working woman in New York in the 1950s. Rippling with satire and humor, Mildred’s outspoken accounts capture vividly her white employers’ complacency and condescension—and startled reactions to a maid who speaks her mind. As Mildred declares to a patronizing employer that she is not just like one of the family, or explains to Marge how a tricky employer has created a system of “half days off” to cheat her help, we gain a glimpse not only of one woman’s day-to-day struggle, but of her previous ache of racial oppression. A domestic who refuses to exchange dignity for pay, Mildred is an inspiring conversationalist, a dragon slayer in a segregated world. The conversations in the book were first published in Freedom, the newspaper edited by Paul Robeson, and later in the Baltimore Afro-American. The book was originally published in the 1950s by in Brooklyn–based Independence Press, and Beacon Press brought out a new edition of it in 1986 with an introduction by the literary and cultural critic Trudier Harris.

30 review for Like One of the Family: Conversations from a Domestic's Life

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kazen

    This collection of vignettes is a joy. Marge, I sure am glad that you are my friend... No, I do not want to borrow anything or ask any favors and I wish you'd stop bein' suspicious everytime somebody pays you a compliment. It's a sure sign of a distrustful nature. Even more than the joy, though, I love the look at what it's like to be a black domestic worker in 1950's New York. While the way of life is different there are other parts that are eerily familiar. When Mildred riffs one Christmas about This collection of vignettes is a joy. Marge, I sure am glad that you are my friend... No, I do not want to borrow anything or ask any favors and I wish you'd stop bein' suspicious everytime somebody pays you a compliment. It's a sure sign of a distrustful nature. Even more than the joy, though, I love the look at what it's like to be a black domestic worker in 1950's New York. While the way of life is different there are other parts that are eerily familiar. When Mildred riffs one Christmas about what peace would look like she dispenses with "no war" quickly - peace would be not being turned away from an apartment because of her race. Peace would be not seeing signs on the subway asking for "tolerance" "regardless" of what other people are. And, ...if nobody wanted to kill nobody else and I could pick up a newspaper and not read 'bout my folks gettin' the short end of every stick... that would mean more peace. How little has changed. As Roxanne Gay says in the foreword, it's "political without trying to manipulate the readers' sensibilites, without ever forgetting that a novel, political or not, must first and foremost entertain." The short chapters go down easy and are perfect for reading on the train or at the doctor's office. I'm thankful that Childress wrote down the experience of this overlooked slice of society. I'm so glad I read it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Taylor McCafferty

    The format of this book took a little getting used to; it's written as dramatic monologues, but as soon as you get the hang of it, you see what a gem of a book it is. Mildred's voice rings true as if you've somehow become her friend Marge and you'll find yourself laughing, sighing, and thinking, most importantly. Mildred's not afraid to share her exact opinion on things, and it will inspire you to do the same. Her thoughts and opinions are also years ahead of her time - this book was written in The format of this book took a little getting used to; it's written as dramatic monologues, but as soon as you get the hang of it, you see what a gem of a book it is. Mildred's voice rings true as if you've somehow become her friend Marge and you'll find yourself laughing, sighing, and thinking, most importantly. Mildred's not afraid to share her exact opinion on things, and it will inspire you to do the same. Her thoughts and opinions are also years ahead of her time - this book was written in 1956 but many of the issues she explores are still true today. Once you get into it, it flies by and before you know it, you're finishing and craving more of what Mildred has to say! This is a book that everyone should read at one time. I had to read it for a class and I think it's sad that I'd never heard of it before. Everyone should know about it! Read this book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Dustin

    This is surely better than The Help, so I'll give it a go..

  4. 5 out of 5

    Beverlee

    Like One Of The Family is everything The Help is not. Ok, that's not a fair assessment because the two books aren't supposed to be similar. This book is my favorite read of the year (so far) because Mildred is a teacher of life lessons everyone needs to succeed in life. Her recollection of a daily event is not a simple once over of mundane events with a measure of complaint and/or compliment. Mildred and Marge's conversation give the reader an introspective look into how a black woman (also a do Like One Of The Family is everything The Help is not. Ok, that's not a fair assessment because the two books aren't supposed to be similar. This book is my favorite read of the year (so far) because Mildred is a teacher of life lessons everyone needs to succeed in life. Her recollection of a daily event is not a simple once over of mundane events with a measure of complaint and/or compliment. Mildred and Marge's conversation give the reader an introspective look into how a black woman (also a domestic day laborer living in Harlem) might feel about such topics as integration, the importance of a quality education, or the importance of respect. I admire Ms. Childress' writing style. Mildred is the only character that actually speaks, yet the reader can infer what Marge says in response. I think listening to Mildred offered a great reminder for one of the most important life lessons- the wealth you may accumulate is worthless if there's no happiness. I think Childress has a way of presenting a moral without being judgmental. That is talent! Like One Of The Family is an excellent account of a black woman's thoughts and feelings at a time when she didn't have many options to make views known (though it's fiction). History constantly reminds us to visit the past for direction in making wise choices. The lesson for reissuing this book after so many years would be for us to not be dismayed by our current position if it's not where we want to be. Go forth & make the dream reality.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    Originally published as a serial in African-American papers in the 1950s this series of monologue-style short stories are all in the voice of Mildred--a daytime maid for white families in New York City. The monologues are all addressed to her best friend and downstairs neighbor, Marge, who is also a maid. The stories range from encounters with southern relatives of moderately minded employers to picnics threatened by the Ku Klux Klan to more everyday occurrences such as a dance that went bad and Originally published as a serial in African-American papers in the 1950s this series of monologue-style short stories are all in the voice of Mildred--a daytime maid for white families in New York City. The monologues are all addressed to her best friend and downstairs neighbor, Marge, who is also a maid. The stories range from encounters with southern relatives of moderately minded employers to picnics threatened by the Ku Klux Klan to more everyday occurrences such as a dance that went bad and missing your boyfriend. Mildred's spitfire personality comes through clearly throughout each entry. Through Mildred Childress addresses the issues of the day via deftly handled everyday situations. She is particularly adept at demonstrating how a segregated, racist society causes both black and white people to regard each other with undue suspicion in spite of being in everyday close contact with each other. Of course sometimes reading Mildred's life all at once instead of periodically as it was intended was a bit desensitizing. Although Mildred had every right to be upset in each situation related, I found myself noticing more and more that Mildred was simply a character for Childress to espouse her views upon the world with. I quickly checked myself from getting bugged by that, though. Of course Childress had every right to be upset and did not originally intend this to be a book of Mildred's life. Mildred was a vehicle through which to discuss current issues highly relevant to the readers of the paper. It is important in reading historic work to always keep context in mind. Overall this is an interesting collection that reveals the real life situations black domestic workers of the time period found themselves in. Check out my full review. (Link will be live on November 12th).

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kari

    I loved this book because of its breakdown. Mildred and Marge are domestic workers; Mildred creates a counter public in Marge who listens to every story Mildred has to tell. Mildred shares are exploits of sticking it to the man or woman as it is usually. Some of Mildred's stories are embellished, but there is a truth to them. Mildred tells her employers the things all domestic workers want to say, and Marge appreciates that. The end of the novel is interesting because Mildred trades in one emplo I loved this book because of its breakdown. Mildred and Marge are domestic workers; Mildred creates a counter public in Marge who listens to every story Mildred has to tell. Mildred shares are exploits of sticking it to the man or woman as it is usually. Some of Mildred's stories are embellished, but there is a truth to them. Mildred tells her employers the things all domestic workers want to say, and Marge appreciates that. The end of the novel is interesting because Mildred trades in one employer for another. She decides to marry Eddie so she can leave domestic work, but Eddie will begin telling her what to do, and the dreams she mentions in one of the stories when she is defending domestic worker will go unfulfilled.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Parrott

    Feisty, funny, wise and so much more. Mildred gives us a look into the life of African-American domestic workers in the 1950's. While it can be disheartening to hear where things have not changed all that much, there is cultural change to celebrate especially the reminder in Mildred that there are always those willing to be themselves and to stand up others. Listen to Mildred and learn. My copy was a gift through Goodreads First Reads.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Melanee

    If you can manage to make it through the way too long and exhaustively overdone introduction the small snippets of the character's personality that the reader is allowed to view I found were smart and sassy! She was entertaining and a lot of fun all while being very poignant.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Shakarean

    really loved this. it got a bit repetitive, but the voice and the social commentary (which is still relevant to this day) carries it to its end.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Salamah

    What a wonderful read! I have not ready anything by Alice Childress in many years and had not actually heard of this book until recently. The book is from the viewpoint of Mildred who works cleaning houses for White people. She talks about her life and thoughts she has concerning the world around her. The first thing a reader would grasp is that Mildred is a highly intelligent woman. I love how Childress brings that to the forefront because the assumption may be that a maid is not insightful bec What a wonderful read! I have not ready anything by Alice Childress in many years and had not actually heard of this book until recently. The book is from the viewpoint of Mildred who works cleaning houses for White people. She talks about her life and thoughts she has concerning the world around her. The first thing a reader would grasp is that Mildred is a highly intelligent woman. I love how Childress brings that to the forefront because the assumption may be that a maid is not insightful because she is not formally educated. However, Mildred is on top of everything and understands many of the social ills occuring within society. Mildred is also a very happy and funny person. There were several times in which I burst out laughing like after reading the chapter entitled The Pocketbook Game. I also enjoyed reading about the individuals Mildred worked for. Some were very mean and racist while others were kindhearted and just accepted Mildred as a person. There were some people who realized that mistreating people just because of their occupation or skin color was wrong but didn't know how to work with people who were different from them. This book was published in the 1950's but what I noticed is that many of the things Mildred is talking about is currently occurring within society. The relevent stories reminds us that even though much has changed since the 1960's much has stayed the same.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Aimee Massey

    "Like One of the Family" is a series of monologues by a domestic worker named Mildred, talking to her friend Marge, who presumably is also a domestic, but we never learn much about Marge at all. It's all about Mildred. Mildred's voice is likable, insightful and often witty. And she touches on issues and incidents that most people, regardless of race or class, can in some way identify with. But the trouble is, these monologues were originally published in a well-known black socialist magazine in th "Like One of the Family" is a series of monologues by a domestic worker named Mildred, talking to her friend Marge, who presumably is also a domestic, but we never learn much about Marge at all. It's all about Mildred. Mildred's voice is likable, insightful and often witty. And she touches on issues and incidents that most people, regardless of race or class, can in some way identify with. But the trouble is, these monologues were originally published in a well-known black socialist magazine in the mid-20th century, and so they have a strong preaching-to-the-choir vibe to them. I wonder what the magazine's readers thought at the time; I assume they liked the Mildred monologues since they were a feature of the magazine for many years, and apparently did pretty well as a collected volume too. But many of Mildred's points are so obvious it feels condescending. Did black people actually have to be told by a fictional character that racism is ugly and hurts your feelings? Do they now? Does anybody need to be reminded that it's important to be kind to others? Who doesn't dislike being around bratty children? I think Childress's writing style and characterization is very good, and as I said, Mildred is a sympathetic protagonist. But the message is so heavy-handed, and the intended audience already so familiar with many of the situations Mildred describes, that it feels almost insulting.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kitty

    Full of wisdom and humor.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ally

    Paul Robeson, born in 1889, was an African American man who became a highly successful and well-known actor and singer. Living most of his adult life in the Bronx, New York, he was a part of a vital and active African American community. His performance of OTHELLO was, at the time, the longest-running play on Broadway. He was invited to visit the Soviet Union in 1934 and, upon his return to the USA, he became more politically aware and politicized. He felt that, in the USSR, he was treated not a Paul Robeson, born in 1889, was an African American man who became a highly successful and well-known actor and singer. Living most of his adult life in the Bronx, New York, he was a part of a vital and active African American community. His performance of OTHELLO was, at the time, the longest-running play on Broadway. He was invited to visit the Soviet Union in 1934 and, upon his return to the USA, he became more politically aware and politicized. He felt that, in the USSR, he was treated not as a Negro but as a human being with dignity and respect. He was a deeply involved and vocal supporter of the Civil Rights Movement in America from then on. In 1950, he began publication of a civil rights-themed newspaper, called FREEDOM. Included in these newspapers were brief fictional stories written by Alice Childress - conversations between a domestic worker named Mildred and her friend Marge. FREEDOM was discontinued in 1955, and in 1956 Childress' vignettes were first collected and published as LIKE ONE OF THE FAMILY. It was republished in 1986 and then most recently in January of 2017. In the book's 221 pages, there are 62 individual stories, each only a few pages long. In each and every one of them, Mildred is telling Marge about an experience she had working in a white person's household. In most of the stories, the employer has specific expectations for their relationship for the duration of Mildred's employment. This includes what days/hours she will be expected to work, what she will wear while working, how she and her employer will interact, and other expectations for her work. In all of these scenarios, the employer expects Mildred to bend to those wishes and demands without demur. What they find, however, is a woman willing and able to stand up for herself and insist on being treated fairly and with respect. She refuses to be viewed as anything other than a paid worker. Even when she encounters a housewife who wants to only pay her two times a month (so as to get a free week of work every few months) and give her half-days off, Mildred rebukes the woman and sets her straight with what HER requirements are. She is not a woman to be treated as anything close to a slave. What the author does brilliantly in these stories is to not only to shine a light on the situations that may plague domestic workers, but to use these vignettes as vehicles to justify the many progressive aims of the Civil Rights Movement. In the story, "Ridin' the Bus", Mildred and Marge are riding a city bus, taking seats in the very back of the bus. This inspires Mildred to talk about how different it is to ride a bus in New York than it was anywhere in the South, because people can sit wherever they want and nobody pays any attention. What was important was, "...that when we took this seat it simply showed which one we had picked out and not which one was picked for us" (pg. 13). Mildred also notes that the segregated bus-riding laws restrict white people as much as black. "Some people still think we want to sit with white people when they hear us talkin' about that Jim Crow ridin' and what they seem to forget is that there was never nothin' EQUAL about those SEPARATE seats even though they were all on the same bus" (pg. 15). Through this story, Childress is demonstrating that the Jim Crow laws of segregation, and any that restrict the freedoms one group, restrict the freedoms of all. By granting full civil rights and citizenship to all peoples, regardless of the color of their skin, the entire population will be happier and more liberated. LIKE ONE OF THE FAMILY is a remarkable collection of brief vignettes about domestic work in particular and the Civil Rights Movement aims in general. While the topics may be controversial, the writing is completely approachable. It would be readable for people of all levels of education. I believe that it was republished at a very appropriate time, because there are real political issues at play that may move this country back toward the era when these stories were written. Perhaps this book will inspire a new generation of readers to take action and work for equality.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Johnny

    I picked this up after reading a series of articles on The Help in Entertainment Weekly. The articles focused on some of the more socially problematic elements of the book (and film), essentially because it is another story where a white savior provides freedom for a collection of oppressed black folk (a la Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird). Entertainment Weekly suggested Childress's novel as an authentic voice written by an African American woman within the time period in which it is set. I picked this up after reading a series of articles on The Help in Entertainment Weekly. The articles focused on some of the more socially problematic elements of the book (and film), essentially because it is another story where a white savior provides freedom for a collection of oppressed black folk (a la Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird). Entertainment Weekly suggested Childress's novel as an authentic voice written by an African American woman within the time period in which it is set. On those fronts, it soars. Through more than sixty monologues, Childress creates a smart and sassy character in Mildred, an unwed African American woman in New York who works as a domestic for the city's upper class white families. While the Mildred's homeland in the South battles desegregation, she combats a much more insidious form of racism, like the employer who carries her pocketbook around with her whenever Mildred cleans her home which prompts Mildred to claim, "'I understand. 'Cause if I paid anybody as little as you pay me, I'd hold my pocketbook too.'" The comedic responses like this are often coupled with some down-home learnin' doled out by good ole' Mildred herself, and the elitist whites all too often come down off their pedestals to see eye to eye with the narrator, like when one woman asks Mildred for her health card and Mildred turns right around to ask for health cards of the woman, her husband, and her children. Yet in moments like this the story devolves a bit into the realm of unbelievable. I found myself wondering how often Mildred loses a job because of her sass (a plot line explored thoroughly in The Help actually), and how often their political and social views are changed by her self-assurance. Due to the dramatic monologue structure, some of these character and plot elements are never fully realized, and much of those pieces are what makes The Help so engaging as an overall narrative. This is unfortunately where the book falls short though. In focusing solely on Mildred's voice as she sits and chats with her neighbor and friend Marge every night, there is really no thorough narrative; this is really just a lengthy character sketch. The introduction to the novel suggests that the chapters were originally serialized in various periodicals, and in isolation I'm sure they come across far less preachy than they do in totality. The true merit here is in Childress disproving the myth of the passive and accommodating black woman of the 1950s: when Mildred tells Marge, "I don't want anybody toleratin' me because the word tolerate is tied up with so many unpleasant things," for example, she channels a twenty-first racial sensibility five decades early. This makes the book readable, but the lack of a through plot here left me wanting more.

  15. 5 out of 5

    SundayAtDusk

    While this book is described as a novel, it instead might best be described as a collection of fictional narrative essays or monologues by Mildred, a black maid in the 1950s. Mildred is 32-years-old, live in an apartment in Harlem, and has worked for quite a few white families. Her best friend Marge is also a 32-year-old maid and lives in Mildred’s apartment building. Mildred tells Marge in the book that she better not ever move, because she wouldn’t know what to do without her to talk to. There While this book is described as a novel, it instead might best be described as a collection of fictional narrative essays or monologues by Mildred, a black maid in the 1950s. Mildred is 32-years-old, live in an apartment in Harlem, and has worked for quite a few white families. Her best friend Marge is also a 32-year-old maid and lives in Mildred’s apartment building. Mildred tells Marge in the book that she better not ever move, because she wouldn’t know what to do without her to talk to. There are 62 “conversations” in the book between the two women. Marge has no dialogue, though. The reader only knows what she says from Mildred’s responses in the monologues. While most of the monologues deals with racism and the treatment of blacks during the 1950's, that’s not all they cover. Mildred is trying to show how people are people, and all should be treated alike; namely one should treat others as one wants to be treated. No one should be treated badly due to their race, sex, occupation, appearance, etc. She also deals with the stupidity of allowing the mass media to dictate what you need to be happy in life, as well as believing movies realistically portray how people are in real life. Of course, she decimates the “Mammy” stereotype in one monologue, but she also amusingly describes in another one how ludicrous people behave in murder-mystery movies, and where do they find the time and money to go around solving all those murders? :) The book is an excellent collection of interesting, intelligent topics. Mildred comes across as a wise and funny woman, who has the fears of many black women of her era, but who never lets those fears bring her down for long. She’s spiritual, but not particularly religious; outspoken, but not arrogant or mean. She truly wants everyone to get along and to treat each other equally, honestly and kindly. She has no qualms about working hard, but wants to enjoy life, too. She does enjoy life; simple things like getting together with friends or family; eating and talking and dancing and singing. Mildred obviously likes to think, too, about life and why people do what they do and say what they say. Racism is an important issue to her, and she never, ever pretends it’s not. There are other important issues to her, however, as well as not so important issues, and she knows how lucky she is to have a friend like Marge to listen to her. (Note: I received a free copy of this book from Amazon Vine.)

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jim Collins

    Childress's Mildred is a young black woman who works in other people's homes doing cleaning, laundry, and preparations for entertainment in New York City in the 1950s. In a series of very short (two to five pages) one-sided conversations, Mildred addresses her friend Marge and tells her about her experiences as a domestic worker. Childress shows us how employers tried various ways of getting extra work out of Mildred, and how she stood up for her rights, her working conditions, and for respect a Childress's Mildred is a young black woman who works in other people's homes doing cleaning, laundry, and preparations for entertainment in New York City in the 1950s. In a series of very short (two to five pages) one-sided conversations, Mildred addresses her friend Marge and tells her about her experiences as a domestic worker. Childress shows us how employers tried various ways of getting extra work out of Mildred, and how she stood up for her rights, her working conditions, and for respect as a woman. When one employer mentions that she's forgotten Mildred to produce her health card, Mildred responds that she's glad she brought it up, because she had forgotten to ask the employer for health cards for herself and her family, "since I'll be handling the laundry and everything." The employer quickly backs down. Mildred's stories range beyond her employment situations. For example, she describes going to meetings about Africa, and she talks with her sister about her nephew's activism, coming down squarely in favor of the young man's activities. Mildred is not simply a font of folksy homespun wisdom; she is a sharp critical thinker who has quite a bit to say about race, poverty, civil rights, and treating people with respect. I would love to have a chance to meet Mildred.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    This novel which was written first as columns in Paul Robeson’s newspaper Freedom is conversations between Mildred and Marge, her neighbor, also a domestic. In “Like One of the Family” Mrs. C. tells her friend, “We just love her! She’s like one of the family and she just adores Carol!” After her friend leaves, Mildred tells her: “In the first place, you do not love me; you may be fond of me, but that is all…In the second place, I am not just like one of the family at all! The family eats in the This novel which was written first as columns in Paul Robeson’s newspaper Freedom is conversations between Mildred and Marge, her neighbor, also a domestic. In “Like One of the Family” Mrs. C. tells her friend, “We just love her! She’s like one of the family and she just adores Carol!” After her friend leaves, Mildred tells her: “In the first place, you do not love me; you may be fond of me, but that is all…In the second place, I am not just like one of the family at all! The family eats in the dining room and I eat in the kitchen.” (2) “Don’t it give you goose pimples when you realize that white people can kill us and get away with it? We’re walkin’ targets everywhere we go—on the subway, in the street, everywhere.” (25) In “Missionaries,” she wishes there were missionaries in the US. “The kind of dim-minded, cruel human beings who will shoot a man down for voting certainly needs to be saved, those who go ‘round preachin’ they’re superior because their skins have a certain tint need to be saved, adults who threaten to spill the blood of children because they seek to find an education in the public schools, don’t they need enlightenment?” (193-4) I got this from Beacon Press as an ARC on 2/1/17. Thank you Beacon Press!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Betty

    This book was recommended by the Association of Black Women Historians as an example of fiction that authentically portrays women who worked as domestic help. Although "preachy" at times, Mildred, the narrator, is funny, opinionated, and wise. Set in New York City, the South is never too far away from Mildred's mind. I doubt that she would really have spoken her mind to her white employers in the way she relates, but the authenticity of what she says is never in doubt. When a white woman employe This book was recommended by the Association of Black Women Historians as an example of fiction that authentically portrays women who worked as domestic help. Although "preachy" at times, Mildred, the narrator, is funny, opinionated, and wise. Set in New York City, the South is never too far away from Mildred's mind. I doubt that she would really have spoken her mind to her white employers in the way she relates, but the authenticity of what she says is never in doubt. When a white woman employer asks for her health card (and I'm not talking insurance), she thanks her by saying that she was trying how to figure out how to ask for the family's health cards, after all she would be doing their laundry, and so on. Her only prejudice is against bad, mean or small-minded people. Whatever their color.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ruthie Jones

    This was a fun and quick read. I enjoyed the main character's (Mildred) biting wit, sarcasm, and tell-it-like-it-is attitude. A bit unrealistic, however, because no worker, black or white, would probably go off on several employers like Mildred often does. But Mildred's opinions and advice often reflect the truth in the hard light of day and the dark corners of night. I love the style and format of this book: conversations (we only read Mildred's side) with her neighbor/friend, Marge. I'm inspir This was a fun and quick read. I enjoyed the main character's (Mildred) biting wit, sarcasm, and tell-it-like-it-is attitude. A bit unrealistic, however, because no worker, black or white, would probably go off on several employers like Mildred often does. But Mildred's opinions and advice often reflect the truth in the hard light of day and the dark corners of night. I love the style and format of this book: conversations (we only read Mildred's side) with her neighbor/friend, Marge. I'm inspired to imitate this conversational format (small stories but all related) in my next Nanowrimo attempt for November 2009.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Gruber

    LOVED this book! Written as a series of conversations between the main character, Mildred, and her friend, Marge. Mildred is a domestic worker, and for those who have read The Help, I think this book provides a much better perspective. Not to mention, Mildred is freaking hilarious--and wise. Many great observations, told from Mildred's perspective, about life, friendship, dating, racism, child-rearing, and various aspects of human relations. Found myself cracking up, nodding, and or shaking my h LOVED this book! Written as a series of conversations between the main character, Mildred, and her friend, Marge. Mildred is a domestic worker, and for those who have read The Help, I think this book provides a much better perspective. Not to mention, Mildred is freaking hilarious--and wise. Many great observations, told from Mildred's perspective, about life, friendship, dating, racism, child-rearing, and various aspects of human relations. Found myself cracking up, nodding, and or shaking my head a lot. Highly recommend.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Hilary

    I would highly recommend this book to anyone. The short vignettes make it easy to get through. I really enjoyed the main character; her perspective is uniquely her own and she is both lovable and at times a bit too much (I really appreciate when a character feels flawed and human). The point of view can get a little on the nose at times, but it is a wonderfully thoughtful criticism and really stands up well against the test of time (It was written in 1956).

  22. 4 out of 5

    Faith Reidenbach

    Recommended by the Association of Black Women Historians as a much-needed antidote to The Help. Gave me good insights. The point of view gets a little tiresome--the book isn't a conversation between two women, as described here. It's a dramatic monologue.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Beth Harper

    Parts are VERY funny. Lots of wisdom here, and Mildred and Marge seem like real people. Can be a bit preachy at times. Mildred's outlook on life seems so contemporary, though Childress was writing these in the 1950s. It's also inspiring. If the system allowed me, I'd give it 4.5 stars.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jessie

    Funny, insightful, and moving--a great, and much more authentic alternative to the Help.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Robin

    I always like feisty females, and this one has a great way with words.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Carrie

    Mildred is now my number one choice for the list of "Literary characters I hope would invite me to dinner"...

  27. 5 out of 5

    Angela S

    A good, sometimes light and indepth read from the voice of domestic help from the 50's. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Skyler

    One of my favorite books of the last year or more.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Alycia

    Fantastic and not just because she talks about John Brown for a second. Completely relevant for today even if it is set in the 1950's.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Taibom

    I finally finished this book. All these stories were funny. Mildred was the real deal!

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