by Sapphire

Precious Jones, an illiterate sixteen-year-old, has up until now been invisible: invisible to the father who rapes her and the mother who batters her and to the authorities who dismiss her as just one more of Harlem's casualties. But when Precious, pregnant with a second child by her father, meets a determined and highly radical teacher, we follow her on a journey of education and enlightenment as Precious learns not only how to write about her life, but how to make it her own for the first time.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Fiction
  • Rating: 3.83
  • Pages: 177
  • Publish Date: April 29th 1997 by Vintage
  • Isbn10: 0679766758
  • Isbn13: 9780679766759

What People Think about "Push"

It was heinous and disgusting but I really think the author wanted everyone who read this book to feel raped along with Precious so that we can just - feel raped. If you want to write in illiterate form so that the readers can hear Precious' true voice, fine. The author's job is to express what the character is experiencing without personally attacking YOU as the READER. After all, what is the purpose of such a novel if not to create awareness of such heinous events and propel this awareness to form organizations that educate girls like Precious on understanding that what they are experiencing is wrong and criminal; and there is a way out? It's easy to just write down a bunch of vulgar details and call it "the realness." Instead of feeling sorry for Precious, I felt sorry for myself for having ever even touched this book.

It isn't, as most good writing is, just a vehicle to convey the material as much as a vibrant and necessary component of the story. The literary device of the writing changing, opening, blooming along with the story is remarkably well-executed. It is a wonderful book on every level, not just the writing, or the story, or the tremendous creation of Precious - antithesis of a heroine, a 250lb girl who describes herself as too dark and ugly, and whose taste in clothes is appalling (but hopeful, fluorescent yellow leggings and a leather jacket) but also the ending.

There is a debate (or at least an ongoing conversation) among teachers who help college students hone their reading skills. What exactly, do you have the students read? When I teach pre-college level reading, I make my students do book reports. This surprises them, and most of my students will read something by Terry Woods, like The Dutch books (a series about a drug dealer). One student was surprised that I let her read them. Her last teacher had said she could read whatever she wanted for a book report, until she brought in the Dutch book. Out of three books my student loaned me, two could have used more than just spell-check, one was little more than badly written fan fiction; one I understood the appeal of (though the writing needed polish), and the last, by Sister Souljah, was good. Sister Souljah's novel aside, the books, in short, were not what us "literary" teachers read. Yet this genre also includes a book such as Precious, a book I will use in my classes. Precious cannot read; therefore, she cannot spell. They let the reader really know Precious, and come as close to her life as is possible. Yet, the student is going to school while working two jobs, is a single mother, and has usually come though a violent relationship (or two). Any teacher will tell you that there are students like that in the classroom. This is not the Hollywood movie where the white suburban teacher comes into an inner city class room fresh from the suburbs. Hard repetitive work, for both the teacher and student. Compared to other books where the female protagonist is horribly abused or mistreated (or in the case of The Lovely Bones, killed) and gets the readers pity though the suffering of victimhood, Precious doesnt do that.

when he rapes her again and she gets pregnant again and the baby has down-syndrome?

Precious Jones is none of these things. If anything, Precious Jones and her story illustrate how savagely we precipitate violence upon each other. For me to even feel empathy for Precious feels like I am being hypocritical. Me reading this story, as fictionalized as it may be, does not change the fact that somewhere a Precious is experiencing the violence and shame and suffering that no person should ever have to endure. But it doesn't change the fact that I can still close my eyes, kiss my children, get into my SUV and go to the park, make a steak, go on vacation, make love to a woman that loves me back, and forget that people like Precious will never get to do these things.

For the longest time "Precious" was my favorite "modern" (2008 & up) movie. In truth, the movie adaptation is a horror film disguised as Oscar-baiting melodrama.

The novel was unable to sustain the intensity of the shorter New Yorker piece, and had several significant flaws. The other problem with this book is that it displays several diagnostic criteria for "Social Novel Disorder," which is to say, the power of the narrative is undermined by a sense of the author's (understandable) agenda, and of a rather artificial plot trajectory in which Precious encounters a Sapphire-like (it seemed to me at the time) social worker and thereby begins her healing and empowerment, learning in the process to read and to surrender her misguided and intolerant homophobic views. I'm very curious to see whether the writing still exerts the same power and force I remember, and also whether my own aging and experiences in the years since will have changed my response to what seemed like serious flaws on my first read.

I'm a big fan of books written in vernacular if the voice rings true and the book is short. Push (or the movie tie-in title Precious), by Sapphire, is an emotionally-charged look at a sexually-abused girl and her struggle to become literate and do better for her and her children. The book is written from this molested teenager's point of view, so you will experience her growth both in the areas of reading and maturation. Highly recommended with the caveat that this novel is sometimes hard to read due to both content and intended spelling and grammatical errors.

What was the hardest for me, and likely for most readers, was the absolute raw and brutal honesty with which the abuse was treated in this novel. The first chapter (and additional passages scattered throughout the book) are graphic, raw, and absolutely stunning. The language used is poetically and articulately placed on the page in such a way to make Precious a very vivid character who is very real. Honestly, I have a hard time even recommending this to most adults. At the same time, I can't "not" recommend it...or rather, if somebody (with adequate maturity/sensitivities) picked up the book and asked if it was worth reading, my answer is YES.

Lofton moved to New York City in 1977 and immersed herself in poetry. She also became a member of a gay organization named United Lesbians of Color for Change Inc. She wrote, performed and eventually published her poetry during the height of the Slam Poetry movement in New York. Sapphire submitted the first 100 pages of Push to a publisher auction in 1995 and the highest bidder offered her $500,000 to finish the novel. Sapphire currently lives and works in New York City.