Friday, March 19, 2010

Push by Sapphire

This book, originally published in 1996, has had a sudden resurgence in popularity due to the movie Precious which is based on the novel. And I only hope that more and more people read it. It's not an easy book to read. And I don't think that I can watch the movie after reading the book. I don't think I can go through the experience again. But I'm glad that I did go through it once. This book is full of pain, but it's even more full of strength and determination. But the pain is so raw. Push is the portrayal of a young black girl named Claireece Precious Jones who has lived under circumstances that most of us would consider unimaginable. But they are real, nonetheless to many people all over the world. She lives with her mother, a woman who is mentally unstable and highly abusive under the welfare system in Harlem. Precious is raped repeatedly by her father until she becomes pregnant by him and delivers his baby at the age of 12, giving birth to a child with Down's Syndrome. Instead of supporting her, her mother calls her a whore and worthless and Precious continues to live a life of abuse and molestation until she becomes pregnant again by her father and then decides to make a change for herself. She enrolls herself in a school for underprivileged people in her town. She cannot read or write and with the help of an amazing teacher, she begins to learn while finding her own self in the process. Push is never an easy read. Even at the end, it is not a happy book. But, my God what an amazing book it is. It's filled with a quiet, underlying hope. A brightness that overflows from Precious. A determination to never give up, to never give in to the darkness that constantly surrounds her that would be so easy to just fall into. What I loved more than anything about this book is that paints a picture of trauma so well. It shows what dissociation looks like in the midst of a traumatic event as Precious drifts off into a more pleasant place that she's created for herself to escape. As she loses time and gets confused and doesn't realize how she got from one place to another. It helps the reader understand how people can possibly cope with such horrendous things. Precious herself has a heart of gold and I just wanted to reach through the pages and hug her so many times. She'll make you laugh out loud at times, but she'll make you cry too. Much of this book will bring you to tears and that's something I should warn you about ahead of time. There's a lot of graphic sex in here and a lot of language, but that's reality. It's true to this story. And I hope that doesn't stop anyone from reading this. Yes, it's a hard read, but this could just as easily be a work of non-fiction. People actually go through Precious' story every day and it's time we became aware of it and talked about these things more. I'd really like to read more of Sapphire's work now. She hasn't published much, but I'd like to read what I can find. She's a poet and I'd imagine that her poetry is amazing. This book was like a work of poetry and Precious herself becomes a poet throughout the book. There were certain lines that just jumped out at me and just stung a good way. I hope that you can experience that too.

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