Thursday, April 19, 2012

Push (aka Precious ) - Sapphire

Summary:  Precious Jones, an illiterate sixteen-year-old, has up until now been invisible to the father who rapes her and the mother who batters her and the authorities who dismiss her as just one more of Harlem's casualties.  But when Precious, pregnant with a second child by her father meets a determined and radical teacher, we follow her on a journey of education and enlightenment as she learns not only how to write about her life, but how to make it truly her own for the first time.  (Summary from book - Image from vintagebooks.wordpress.com )


My Review:  Before you get too far into this review there is one thing you should know:

·         This book is, hands down, the most graphic, disturbing, sickening, and all out horrifying book I’ve ever read.   It’s also very powerful.  Read it at your own risk, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.  

When I picked up Push (aka Precious), I thought I was reading the non-fiction account of a teenage girl’s struggle to overcome years of sexual abuse at the hands of her parents.  Two-thirds of the way through I discovered I was mistaken, and that the author, who taught literacy classes in Harlem, based the main character, Precious, off of several students in her classroom.  Initially, this really bothered me.  By that point, I had waded through multiple chapters of the most graphic language and sexually explicit material I’d ever read, only to find out she wasn’t real!?  It felt like a betrayal until I realized something – this story is real. 

The girl might not be named Precious, but she’s out there somewhere.  Her story is beyond horrific; it’s the tells of a young girl enduring unimaginable abuse at the hands of her parents.  At school she is ignored by teachers, despite her obvious illiteracy, and tormented by classmates.  She is nothing.  She is no one.  And every night she goes home knowing it will happen again.  Her story makes me sick.  It makes me sad.  It makes me homicidal.  This is going to sound incredibly harsh, but this book made me want to put a bullet in the head (or hang a millstone around the neck) of every parent who could ever do something so destructive to their own child. 

My husband is a special assault detective for our local police department, and his caseload is primarily comprised of child sexual abuse investigations.  As you might imagine, conversations about his day tend to be rather disturbing.  Consequently, I’m no stranger to the topic of child sexual abuse and the lasting effects that such abuse can have on children, especially when it comes at the hands of someone who is supposed to love and protect them.   One of the worst, but most realistic, aspects of this novel was how Precious internalized her feelings of fear, hatred, guilt, sadness, desire, depression, and self-loathing, and the effect that it had on her outlook on life and her own self-esteem. 

Lest you think this book is all darkness and despair, there is hope.  This girl finds her way out of her destructive home.  She finds a teacher who cares enough to be patient with her and she finds salvation in motherhood – in the eyes, arms, and smile of her young son.  Ever so slowly, she begins to see something in herself.  To have hope. To know she is not alone. To want more.  Push calls also attention to a variety of social issues (e.g.  the decline of public education, the welfare system, racism) and, if you can stomach the story, would make a very interesting book club discussion.

This book is not pretty.  It isn’t pleasant.  It made me want to kill, cry, and throw up – but it is honest, inspiring, and powerfully compelling. 

My Rating: 3.5 Stars.                                                                           

For the sensitive reader:  Pervasive profanity, vulgarity, and sexually explicit descriptions of rape and molestation.

Sum it up:  I don’t think that I will ever be able to forget this book.  

2 comments:

BATEACHER said...

This is hardly material that should be read by high school students. What is the intended outcome of reading this graphic sexual exploitation? The author seems to want to continue producing the same outcome in the sequel, "The Kid."
Let's provide our next generation with the hope for change instead of the perpetuation of perversion and abuse.

MindySue said...

Have you actually read the book? I will admit to being fairly horrified by the subject matter and I probably wouldn't hand it over to my high schooler without a serious conversation about its content, but I still thing that it has redeeming qualities. Unless we recognize that this kind of abuse does and IS happening all over the world, then hiding our heads in the sand and hoping for change won't do one bit of good.

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