I should start by saying that I gave Push, by Sapphire, five stars on GoodReads. That said, I'm not sure I can say that I "liked" this book. It was horrific, wonderful, tragic, redemptive, heinous, empowering, painful and joyous all wrapped up into one.
This novel was made into a major motion picture, which anyone not living under a rock for the last year is sure to know already. I haven't seen the movie, and frankly after reading the book I'm not sure I will. Again, I gave this book five stars, but I'm not sure that I want to see the events of Precious' life played out in technicolor. It was enough to read about them. As I was reading I kept trying to imagine how they would put the horrific abuse that was visited upon Precious into an even remotely acceptable form for public viewing. But without the graphic nature of Precious' descriptions the story would not have been nearly as compelling or engrossing.
Precious is the most innocent, naive, streetwise character I have ever read. As a white, middle-class person, I cannot begin to know how much I take for granted that Precious had never even heard of, much less experienced for herself. She lives in Harlem, but she has never been to the rest of Manhattan. She never read a sentence, much less a book. She has never had a friend, never had a teacher who cared about her, never had a parent who cared about her. How the system didn't take her away from her mother when the first baby was born is astonishing...she readily admitted that her own father was the father of her baby.
Frankly, the sheer number of things that happened to Precious in her short life is the one problem I have with the plot of the book. I know that there are terrible things that happen to people all the time, unimaginable things, but all of them to one person? The book tackles incest, physical abuse, educational neglect, poverty, sexual assault, gay issues, HIV, homelessness...considering it is only a couple hundred pages long that it a lot to fit in, and after all while I did start to feel fatigued. But I suppose that was the point-how much more meaningful it is when Precious begins to overcome her obstacles knowing how many there are.