Reflecting on the Novel
'Push' by Sapphire

I will never forget Claireece Precious Jones. Her words and spirit have a piece of my literary heart like Celie, Pecola Breedlove and Sethe. In a way, I feel bad that's all I could give her.

It took me 12 years to pick up a copy of Sapphire's Push. I didn't want to read the book when it hit shelves back in '97. The novel was put under the Street Lit category and that's not my thing. The black elite criticized the book for it's heavy use of urban vernacular and misspellings. They said it made us look bad. But a lot of people loved it for it's grit and rawness. I wasn't ready to read a story about a black Harlem teen who is impregnated by her father at the age of 12 and has another one at 16. The second child was by Daddy too. I was a teen when the book was released and the content seemed too deep and real for me. So I pushed Push to the side. Now the movie Precious, which is based on the book, is coming out Nov. 6th and I want to see it. I can stomach this heavy subject now. I think. Yesterday, I finished the book in hours.


Precious Jones. Young, overweight, poor, illiterate, dark-skinned, black girl. And she's a dreamer. Her parents physically, mentally and sexually abuse her. Even her mother sexually abuses her. Her mom was sick and it made me sick. Some scenes tossed my stomach to the point I could taste a little vomit crawling up my throat. I cried through paragraphs and carried anger throughout the chapters. She's just a kid. How could you do that to her? During breaks between reading I asked God, "Why would someone do this to a child?" I was uncomfortable, as I should be, but hopeful. I read every word of that book even when the sentences were so painful I wanted to skip a page. I owed it to Precious. All she wants is to be safe, heard and loved. Thank God for the teacher who gave her a voice through writing.

Push is hard, gentle, innocent, evil, dysfunctional, helpless, hopeful, loud, silent, prayer, a vent, love. For Sapphire to tell such a story is amazing. How ironic the author creates this character hurting for love, but as a reader you can't help but love Precious. You see things in her she doesn't see in herself. Like her honesty and strength. At times I love her foul mouth. I admire how she the takes control of the vulnerability her parents prey on. Then uses that vulnerability to empower herself, tell her story and be heard. I admire her will to learn and be open minded. Still I couldn't read the book without thinking there's a Precious Jones all over the world. From Beverly Hills to South Africa--somewhere, some woman or child doesn't have autonomy over their body. Someone's being harmed, molested, mentally abused and can't communicate the evil done to them. So they stay silent.

No, Precious' story did not stop when I closed the red and black cover. It began all over again the next day when I picked up the LA Times.

Push
. The tale that never ends.

Photo Credits
--Images from Precious Facebook Fan Page

Comments

  1. I've felt the same way. I didn't even dare to read it. I remember when it first came out everyone kept talking about how real and deep the book was.

    Like you, I'm older now and ready (I think) to handle the material. Haven't picked up a copy yet but I will before the movie comes out. Thanks for sharing your experience.

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  2. Have you read the Kite Runner? The book had the same affect on me, irking disgust and sadness. The movie was "safe" but still a very heavy topic. I MAY read this book, but even if I don't I know its subject matter took courage to write.

    THanks for your blog.

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  3. @ Aubrey--Glad you see where I'm coming from. You should read the book before the film comes out. What helps get you through the harsh content is Precious faith. If she didn't have any kind of faith I don't know if I could've finished the first chapter.

    @Kasia--I have not read the Kite Runner. I hear it's sad and a bit disturbing.

    Thank you both for your comments!

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  4. i can't read I can't do it . I was on jezebel yesterday and read the story about a 9 year old congolese girl being gang raped by soldier. And when I hear about the child trafficking and other atrocities . I can't, cause reality is already heavy on my heart. I live in a place where child slavery is normal. This is daily life for 300000 children. So I can't. I probably won't be able to watch the movie too. This just kill me.

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  5. @Zindzhi I understand if you can't read the book or watch the film. They're not easy materials to digest.

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