Monday, February 28, 2011

PUSH by Sapphire

"I don't understand why some kids git a good school and mother and father and some don't. But Rita say forgit the WHY ME shit and get on to what's next." -- Precious, PUSH

Clareece "Precious" Jones' earliest memories are of being abused by her parents. Rather than act as the safety net she desperately needs, school administrators advise her teachers, who first notice her worrisome signs of withdrawal at age five, to "focus on the ones who can learn."

By the time Precious is sixteen, her life's been one of submission for survival's sake. She's in junior high, can't read or write, weighs two-hundred-pounds and is pregnant by her father for the second time.

When her second pregnancy is discovered by school administrators, she's expelled and referred to an "alternative" school, where she meets girls with similar backgrounds as hers, and a teacher who changes her life. Miss Rain does more than teach her to read and write; she teaches her to find her "voice."

It's through the process of journaling that Precious finds the strength she'll need to leave her mother and deal with the biggest challenge she's faced yet.

By the time I finished PUSH, I felt optimism for Precious' future. I also felt a sadness that stayed with me long after I read it. Sapphire's raw and uninhibited verse was evidence to me that she'd not created Precious in a vacuum.

PUSH is poetic and thought-provoking. But it's also graphic and disturbing. It's a book I'd only recommend to readers who are comfortable feeling uncomfortable.

Do you think a story is ever too gritty or shocking to tell? When you think of an author writing authentically, what books or stories come to mind that you've read?


In the following short video clip, Sapphire discusses her background, where she got the inspiration to write Precious' character, and the movie adaptation of her book. She's an inspiring lady. (Click here to watch the entire interview.)

"But I couldn't let him, anybody, know, page 122 look like page 152, 22, 3, 6, 5 -- all the pages look alike to me. 'N I really do want to learn. Everyday I tell myself something gonna happen, some shit like on TV. I'm gonna break through or somebody gonna break through to me -- I'm gonna learn, catch up, be normal, change my seat to the front of the class. But again, it has not been that day." -- Precious, PUSH
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