Sunday, March 26, 2006

Push ****1/2

Sapphire. Push. New York: Vintage, 1996.

This is an adult book, and isn't for the squeemish. Those that are offended by strong language and those that may feel uncomfortable reading about incest should avoid this book. It's not for everyone.

Precious is a 16 year-old living in Harlem. She is pregnant with her second child. Her first child was born when she was just 12 and has Down's Syndrome. Both children are the product of an incestuous relationship between Precious and her father, who has been raping her. Precious likes school and learning, but she is illiterate. A caring administrator at her school gets her into an alternative school where she is able to learn and eventually get into the GED program. After the birth of her baby, Precious must leave her home after her mother tries to kill her. This leaves her without housing. Despite her problems, she still aims to keep up her education.

This book is told from the perspective of Precious. As the book progresses, her spelling and grammar improves. She goes from spelling phonetically and leaving out many vowels to being able to spell far better; not perfect, but far better.

Precious, due to her background I suppose, does use a lot of coarse language (that's a nice way of saying she curses a lot!). However, the language is true to how such a girl would speak. In fact, she probably doesn't even realize that many of the words are even considered curses since she hears this language every day, all day. She is simply speaking the only way she knows how. The language and content may seem objectionable; however, it is necessary to tell the story the way it needs to be told. This is a story about a girl with a hard life, and from a hard place where things aren't "proper". The book shows how hard Precious is willing to work to make herself a better person. It leaves us feeling a sense of hope that even people living in the worst of conditions and situations can thrive and improve themselves.

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