Written and posted by Tirinda Hixon
Just read PUSH by Sapphire and I’m not sure what to think, because there is just SO much to think about…
The protagonist in this story is a young girl named Precious Jones, who is a semi-illiterate poet and mother of two small children…fathered by her own father. This shattering fact is discovered very early in the book, and from then on we learn just how awful an abused child’s life can be. I was shocked and appalled. Precious’ struggles were just too many for me to fathom. From being molested by both parents, (yes BOTH), to feeling alienated by teachers and classmates, Precious tries to find some peace for herself within. But even inside there’s a struggle as she tries to make sense of what is happening to her. She often wishes people would see the real her, the person on the inside. And for a long while she equates her real beauty within to a thin, pretty, white girl that she imagines everyone loves.
Precious begins to attend an alternative school in Harlem. While at the school she meets a great teacher, Ms. Rain and a group of classmates that support and treat her like family. It’s delightful to see how Precious progresses through this school’s program as she develops better reading and writing skills and even delves into poetry. The influence of this new school also helps her to eventually escape the torment and abuse by her parents. After giving birth to her second son, she flees her life with her mother and moves into a home for girls, with her newborn son.
Things seem to go well for Precious and for the first time in the book, I’m feeling really good about the new direction her life is taking, that is until a dreadful visit from her mother. It is at that visit that Precious learns her father, and the father of both of her children, has died…of AIDS. Soon after, Precious finds out that she too has been infected with the HIV virus, her children were not. Precious is a strong girl and although the story ends leaving the reader guessing, I got the feeling that she would do what she needed to survive.
All in all, this was a hard story of a child’s struggle. It made me smile at times to see her persevere and to read about her dedication to her son. But, most of all, it made me feel disgusted. As a parent, I just couldn’t fathom two people conceiving, and giving birth to a child only to abuse her in that way. Even when she was “rid” of her parents she still lost, in my opinion, because her father left her with a disease that will affect the rest of her life.
The text is written “by” Precious so at times it was hard to keep up with the writing of an illiterate teenager. I found that to be a bit of a downfall in the book for me. Nevertheless, this was a good book and Precious is an audacious character. I’d definitely recommend.
PUSH has been adapted into a movie and has already won a 2009 Sundance Film Award. Check out the sneak peek below:
I’ll be going to see this…and of course, I will review!
The Brooklyn Critic