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Precious (Push Movie Tie-in Edition) (Vintage Contemporaries)

Precious - Sapphire Check out this review over at Smash Attack Reads! http://smashattackreads.blogspot.com/2010/10/review-push-by-sapphire.htmlPrecious Jones is a sixteen year old female living in Harlem, NY, with her mother. They are supported by the welfare system, of which her mother abuses left and right. Not an uncommon scenario. Precious is pregnant with her second child. She became pregnant with her first child at age 12, who was born with Down’s Syndrome. I assume that when most people read this, their first instinct is to judge this child. To gasp and say “Where are her parents?” Funny you should ask. Precious’ dad can be found in her bed, and her mom on the couch, pouting about dad being in the bed with their daughter. Yes, Precious has become pregnant twice by her father. And her mother blames Precious for running her man away. Can you feel the love? Mom treats Precious like shit. She’s abusive in every way: physically, emotionally, sexually. Yes, mom picked up on her ex’s disgusting habits. Fun times. Precious is almost fully illiterate but she desperately wants to learn, to be able to leave the confines of hell that she shares with the Devil incarnate. She doesn’t want to continue the cycle of welfare that her mother so pleasantly shoves down her throat. (In case you are wondering, “living off the system” is a cyclical, learned mentality. In many cases, children are raised from parents who feel entitled, and they pass these beliefs through generations.) In fact, her mother probably doesn’t know any better. She may have been abused when she was younger. We don’t ever find out mom’s background, and as hard as it is to see this woman as anything but a monster, it’s my job to view her as a human being. She deserves to be heard, and to get assistance for her troubled existence just as much as anyone. However, she also needs to be punished for not protecting her child. Precious finds her way to an alternative school where her life changes for the better. She meets a teacher who takes a serious interest in Precious’ well-being. She meets others like her, from all different backgrounds, who take a sincere interest in Precious’ well-being. For the first time in her life, Precious feels noticed. Important. Loved. Instead of falling into the welfare cycle, of which her mother so pleasantly shoves down her throat, Precious learns how to read and write. How to think. How to be independent. How to live.It's hard to say "I liked this book" because it is not a story that anyone should "like" to read. The story isn’t a fun one. There are graphic scenes of sexual, physical and verbal abuse. Precious is abused, teased, tormented. She feels ashamed. Guilty. However, being the social worker that I am, I see the silver lining, and my heart was with Precious every moment of the book. She endured things you would never wish on your worst enemy, however, she was resilient, she persevered. She saw the light, and fought to reach it. She climbed her way out of the deep, black hole to safety and freedom.I think this story was so powerful because it was written from Precious’ POV. If you remember, Precious is pretty much illiterate, and she has grown up in the ghetto surrounded by despair, hatred, and finger-pointing. The story is written as though Precious is writing it, so it is not easy to always comprehend what she is saying. However, the beauty of the story is that as time passes, the writing becomes a bit more legible and understandable. You actually experience her growth in a visible way. For someone like me, who seeks to assist those who really need it, this was very powerful.Should you read this story? Yes. Will it be hard? Most definitely. Will you be thankful for your life afterwards. You have no idea. Will you view life differently afterwards? I hope so.Before I read Push, I saw the movie, Precious, that is based on the book. It isn’t an easy movie to watch, and while this particular story is not based on a true event, it is not hard for me to imagine many, many children experiencing the harsh reality that Precious experienced. Author Sapphire states as such:What was your inspiration for creating such an unforgettable character?She's a composite of many young women I encountered when I worked as a literacy teacher in Harlem and the Bronx for 7 years. Over and over I met people with circumstances similar to hers, many with her amazing spirit. I wanted to create a novel with a young person like that. To me she has not existed in literature before. She existed on TV …but as a statistic -- as an 18-year-old HIV+ woman who can't read with two children. I wanted to show her as a human being, to enter into her life and show that she is a very complex person deserving of everything this culture has to offer. Source: http://www.queerculturalcenter.org/Pages/Keehnen/Sapphire.html