Push by Sapphire was a unique literary debut that gave new insight into the heartbreaking cycle of abuse, violence, and illiteracy that swallows so many children each year. The book was adapted into the Academy Award winning movie Precious and in 2011 Sapphire released the highly anticipated sequel The Kid. After reading the book I found myself unsure of whether I would write a review on this blog. Once I talked it over with the other book fanatics I decided that the book was worth reviewing, and hopefully my review will help you decide if the book is something you truly want to read. Ultimately this blog is about us sharing our honest love of books, and we all know that finding a book you don’t much care for is inevitable if you read often enough.
The Kid introduces us to a young Abdul who is visiting his mother, Precious, at the hospital. After battling HIV for years Precious passes away leaving Abdul to cope with the loss of his only true advocate. Abdul attends his mother’s funeral with Rita, who has been caring for him while his mother was hospitalized, and the reader learns how much Precious was able to accomplish after the conclusion of the book Push. Though Rita obviously loves Abdul, she is also suffering from HIV and cannot provide him full-time care. Blue Rain, the mentor turned friend of Precious, is preparing to leave the country and ultimately Abdul is entrusted to the foster care system with only a few items to his name including his mothers journals.
Abdul makes the horrifying transition from beloved son to abused orphan as he is victimized by other foster children and caretakers. Eventually it is discovered that Abdul was supposed to be entrusted to the care of his maternal grandmother and, following her own death, his maternal great-grandmother. Various failures of the foster care system are blamed for his years of limbo that saw him turn from abused to abuser. Abdul learns the disturbing and sexually violent history of his family from his great-grandmother as he seeks to use his love of dance to escape poverty and the shame of his past.
Sapphire once again creates characters that spring to life through the pages. Her writing style brings out all of the beauty and horror of the world. There is gallows humor scattered throughout the novel that makes the bleakness more tolerable, and the story of the family’s Mississippi roots was especially vivid.
While I loved the unique narrative of Push, the equally unique narrative style of The Kid was often frustrating. The dreamlike quality of Abdul’s story made it difficult for me to become fully engrossed in the book. I enjoy an unreliable narrator, but at times it seemed as though the lack of reliability was accidental. Also, the attempts to explain what happened to Abdul and connect him with his mother seemed tacked on. They interrupted the flow of the story and since those story-lines did not add to the overall plot it was an unnecessary addition to an already complicated book.
Honestly, this is one book I will never read again. As someone who routinely reads books three or four times it is rare that I do not read a book at least twice just to make sure I haven’t overlooked something. The Kid is worth reading if you really want to know what became of Precious and her son, but not worth reading if you have any interest holding onto the feeling of cautious optimism that many experience after finishing Push. Reading The Kid will crush your soul, hurt your heart, and make you believe that when given the chance of not facing consequences people will consistently make the worst available choices possible.