Push’ was a jawdropping book for me. Not because I was shocked at the events that took place but at how they were painted with Sapphire’s words. For example, my favorite sentence in the book may be the first one. “I was left back when I was twelve because I had a baby for my fahver.” This first sentence gives so much information that the audience needs to know to understand Precious Jones. We learn that she’s telling us her story from first person, she’s been left back in school, at the age of twelve she had a baby (!) and worse it was from her own father (!!). Also the last word ‘fahver’ shows us that she doesn’t have a perfect grasp of writing.
From a literary standpoint I found the ideas of ‘alternatives’ and getting used to ‘something else’ a relevant theme for Precious as she tries to find a different life from what she’s been forced into.
Just going into more awesome lines: P64 “Miz Rain say value. Values determine how we live much as money do. I say Miz Rain stupid there.” This was just great writing…
Alright, moving on to rhetorical analysis. There are some great choices such as p65 when Precious is assigning words to each letter of the alphabet. She chooses words that are part of her life, F is for Fuck. M for the man that Farrakhan is, S is for Stop, T is for two ton. The audience gets the idea that these are images or words or actions that go through her mind.
It was also a pleasing and effective move to show that Precious’ writing was improving as the book goes on. By page 89, the readers can actually understand what her sentences are trying to say, and by the end of the book, she is so much more coherent with her language.
The whole dialect of the book was very authentic. We knew exactly how Precious felt, she was a reliable narrator. Sapphire was also reliable in giving us a picture of late 80’s early 90’s Harlem as it should be, raw and beneath the surface. Going to elementary school in Harlem, I could picture myself back on the streets that Sapphire was directing the scene. But even though Precious was a reliable narrator, she also had flaws of her own. Mostly homophobia and discrimination against white people, but I think these also had a purpose to show what kind of culture she was growing up in. However, there were people around her such as Ms. Rain who tried to discipline her and teach her to accept other people.
Of course, Ms. Rain is the Archie in the novel, she supports Precious throughout, even helping her after finding out that she is homeless.
Lastly, the cover and the opening pages of the book are such smart choices. The bold letters “Push” give the sense of largeness that Precious has throughout the entire novel.
Push was incredibly heart wrenching story. The gruesome details Precious Jones describes about her appalling mother and father made this story a difficult read, yet I couldn’t put the book down.
The first sentence I read with the word “fahver” allowed me to predict the dialect of the story. At first, I was a bit apprehensive about reading this story because I thought it might be difficult to keep up with the use of certain words through this dialect, but it turned out to be very easy and I found the book so much more interesting to read. Sapphire’s rhetorical choice to use this dialect was so integral to the development and progression of Precious Jones’ character. The words were so straightforward and I had such a clear representation of the imagery. I felt as though I went on a journey exploring a person’s life through the voice of Precious. I started out reading a very illiterate first person narration, but later in the book, I saw a significant change in the writing. Although the dialect is maintained throughout the book, the voice of Precious Jones becomes so much stronger, and it shapes her strength and determination. I really loved the journal writing and how Precious’ spelling, poetry use, and integration of drawings (such as on page 91) show her enthusiasm in promoting her intellectual growth.
As I was reading the gruesome details of rape, I couldn’t help but think, this stuff really happens??? I mean really…. And what was even crazier for me was finding out that this book was based on a true story. Precious was an eye-opening novel and it really digs deep into the hearts of many readers. Precious was a wonderful and dependable narrator– her consistency throughout the novel and blunt expression of every raw detail of rape and abuse open up a different world to the reader. In analyzing our “Archie”, Ms. Rain (BLUE RAIN- I love that name by the way) wins the title. She was an extraordinary woman, and she made Precious passionate about life and learning. For me, page 97 says it all—after Precious is tested HIV positive, her perseverance in school falls behind, but Ms. Rain is always there to save her from quitting,
Ms. Rain: “Write.”
Precious: “I am tired. Fuck you! You don’t know nuffin’ what I been through!”
Ms. Rain: “Open your notebook Precious.”
Precious: “I’m tired.
Ms. Rain: “I know you are but you can’t stop now Precious, you gotta push.”
That part did it for me—the whole meaning of the title and everything came together. And Precious does push—moves forward with her life, progresses, she keeps going, and she never gives up. Ms. Rain reminded me of Ms. Honey from Matilda! (I don’t know if anyone will agree, but that’s how I felt) The way Ms. Honey cared for Matilda was so similar to Ms. Rain’s love for Precious.
Reading this book in the seventh grade, for the first time, I automatically knew there was no way I was going to be able to connect with this book at all, But i liked it! I liked it because I didn’t understand why the author was writing it in the format that she did, but when I kept reading I realized that she wanted her audience to see the process of Precious’ writing skills. I liked it because as we grew from reading this book so did Precious. I liked it because it showed me a side of the world that I have never seen or known about before. I did not connect with it at all but I realized that the world is not perfect and there are people in this world that go through he worst things ever.
Reading it for a second time in college and after having watched the movie as well, I felt the same way I felt in the seventh grade. Precious’ story was a very sad story, too sad that I had to put the book down a couple of times because I started crying (but thats just because I get too emotional when I read sad novels). I also took a min to thank god that I have never been through a situation like hers and he blessed me with so many good opportunities. It also made me pray for the people who have or are going through similar stories.
Although I cannot relate to the book, Sapphire did an amazing job to get the reader into her story because it made them want to keep knowing more and find out if she survives all the hardship she is put in at the end. It made me think of my high school for some reason. I went to an all girls school, which was pretty diverse. Every girl in my school had there own story and problems at home and you saw this many times because a good amount of girls would get pregnant and drop out of school, or sometimes come back and repeat the grade. The point is that each one of those girls had their own story of how, why it happened and they can relate more to Precious story than I can, simply because they had teen pregnancies, but from over hearing and having some conversation with these girls I realized how they could not relate to anything she has been through because Precious did not ask for it and these girls were just not being safe.
I do not think that when one is reading a book they have to relate or connect to a book to like it. I also think that majority of the people who read Push cannot relate to many of the events she goes through in her life. Everyone has their own story and whether or not they are able to relate to a book they are going to read it because they like how it is written and the story behind it. I read Push as a choice in the seventh grade because my sister told me it was a good and sad book that I should read. So I gave it a try, I realized how cruel the world can be because thats a side I wont ever see in my life but I still am aware of the cruelty of the world by reading books like Push and that everyone does not have the privilege to make up their choices in their OWN lives.
Push was an extremely captivating, and tragic novel. I was overcome with a range of emotions because of the dialect of the novel. It drew me into Precious’s world, and painted a vivid picture in my mind of how her life was. I could hear her voice in my head, spelling our words. Her suffering became so real to me. We always talk about having a “connection” and “relating” to the novel. I did not relate to the novel but I felt a strong connection through the emotions I felt while reading the novel. I agree with Evan that this is great writing. It is great writing because of the authenticity, and the use of the dialect. The novel would not be nearly as moving without the dialect to enrich the characters.
There was no debate on who the “Archie” character was. It was Ms. Rain. She influenced Precious, and showed her what potential she had by learning how to read and write. I also believe that there is no questions that the writings between Ms. Rain, and Precious were necessary. Precious expressed herself in the letters, and Ms. Rain’s responses kept her going. Also, Precious’s writing ability improves throughout the letters which really moved me. I was so hooked into the story that just the simple improvements of spelling left an impression on me. It gives a read a hopeful feeling that things will get better for Precious. Yes, I felt hope, but at the end of the novel I still wanted to know that there was a happy ending. I wanted Precious to be okay, she deserved it. The ending was so moving:
Ms Rain say
go into the poem
the HEART of it
As I read the ending of the novel: “Life Stories: Our Class Book”, it reminded me of the movie “Freedom Writers”. As I read each story or poem, Sapphire did an incredible job creating the characters and bringing their lives to life.
I agree with Elss that “everyone does not have the privilege to make up their choices in their OWN lives.” This is something I can relate to, although I have never had to deal with teen pregnancy or incest, I do understand what it means to have a traumatic experience and having to find a way to push through and move on.
Out of all the books we have read dealing with some scary and sickening issues, this book was probably the most difficult for me to read. However, with that said, I think the issues of rape and poverty and incest were handled in a way that allowed the reader to feel the impact of this girls life in a way that helps us learn, not simply discussing these topics for the sake of discussing. The reader felt empowered by this young girls struggle to overcome such horrendous odds through the use of education. As an inspiring teacher, I think the teacher in this book was such a positive role model on how to deal with children who are not only so far behind in their abilities to others their age, but carry so much baggage that learning needs to be relevant to their needs. It taught me how to inspire students to stay in school and use education as a tool to improve their life, when they are dealing still with basic needs such as safety or food. The program that Precious was in also was a stellar example of a realistic resource for struggling students to be able to graduate, when for some graduating high school seems like such an impossible task and it is easier to just give up. I thought the letters that Precious wrote back and forth to her teacher was an excellent example of how a teachers connection to her students can help push them to feel important and worth while, and then helps them to become better readers and writers, even when the letters were not coherent at first. I did notice though through the novel the letters became more grammatically correct, showing that Precious was learning through the new program she was put in.
I think one of the most powerful and important rhetorical moves in this book was the use of language. It was written the way that Precious was able to speak and write at the time. This not only gave the reader a true picture of how her character was feeling/thinking, but showed improvements throughout the novel to show growth in her character. I think the use of language also brought empathy to the character, showing her real struggles when she describes being raped by her mother and father, and her desire to have something more.
This book was hard for me to get into at first, not because of the subject matter but because of the way that it was written. Even though it took some getting used to, I think that the dialect is the smartest rhetorical choice made in the text. Using Precious’ slang and accent throughout the book made me feel like I was having an actual conversation with her and that she was telling me her own life story. Her story is too unique and damaging to have been told in any other way. If the author hadn’t used the dialect, it would have come off as less authentic. The dialect made me trust Precious’ character right away and subconsciously trust that the author knew what she was writing about.
The author also made the choice to include letters and poems written by Precious. This opened my eyes to see the difference in her dialect and how she actually writes. If the book was truly written by Precious, it would have taken me much longer to read. As the letters and poems progressed, it made me feel like I was watching Precious grow and learn along with her teacher Ms. Rain. When she spelt a world correctly, I felt just as proud as if she were my own student.
This brings me back to the ever prevalent point in our discussions of connection. My life has been much more privileged and much less traumatic than Precious’ in the novel. Bringing my own identity position into play, we are not very similar other than the fact that we are both female teenagers. Still, I was able to connect with this book and the character of Precious. I wanted her to succeed, and I was constantly rooting for her. At first I was in shock of how graphic everything was and all of the horrible things that happened to her, but as the book went on I became less surprised. I guess, like Precious, I got used to her life. But like Precious eventually realizes in the book, I always expected more from her.
So this does make me question more why I am able to connect with this book and not as much with Monster and Mexican White-Boy. Maybe I just really can’t connect with the boy characters or the issues in those books? I think that Push is the portrait of everything horrible that can go wrong in a girl’s life–everything that we’re warned about growing up–but most of us never have to go through it. It’s the “what if” in the back of all of our minds–if by chance we had been born to different parents, a different socio-economic class or even a different race, or encountered different people–Precious’ story could easily be our own story.
This book was a rhetorical gold mine! Everything from the way that Precious’ writing progresses throughout the novel to the various forms that she uses to express herself was filled with intention and meant to alter the audience’s view point. At first I only noticed that her writing was getting more complete in the snippets of journal entry that are shown to us, but then I realized that even the narration had smoothed out, and that the main character spelled more and more words correctly.
Push was very easy for me to connect with (and by that I mean that it seemed to be hardwired into my emotions–when Sapphire wanted me to feel sad I felt sad, when she wanted me to feel disgust I felt disgust, and so on). The only part of the book that I felt disappointed with was the ending; I didn’t feel like I knew enough about Precious’ situation to be happy. I wanted confirmation that she’d be okay. I’m sure that many of the kids who read this book will also feel that way, and I wonder if not providing a more hopeful ending will cause kids with similar problems to feel as though there is no hope for them.
I am an extraordinarily open person. If you ask, I’ll share, and most of the time the combination of my honesty and raunchy sense of humor takes people aback. But even I was surprised at the level of detail included in Sapphire’s novel, especially when considering that it was written for young adults. In fact, I wouldn’t have even believed that Push was written for young adults if I wasn’t reading it as part of an Adolescent Lit course. At some level I balk at the idea of thirteen year olds reading the explicit material included in the novel, but my more rational self knows that it’s important for stories like that to be available for kids who are going through similar things. To think how much a book like Push would have helped Precious had she been able to read it makes me realize that it’s no use shielding kids from reading something when they may have experienced much worse.
The simplicity of the language but graphicness of the novel also makes for an interesting dichotomy–very young kids could read and make sense of the language, but the content would be way too strong for them to handle.
Those are my disjointed thoughts on Push!
So far, Push has been the most challenging book for me to read. It honestly made me so uncomfortable and forced me so far outside my comfort zone, that there were several instances when I had to just put the book down and walk away. Because I felt that way about this book, I think it will be the novel that sticks with me out of everything we read this year.
The first thing I noticed about this novel were the grammatical choices Sapphire made. On page one, a sentence reads “Guess ’cause I don’t know how far I’m gonna go with this story, or whether it’s even a story or why I’m talkin; whether I’m gonna start from the beginning or right from here or two weeks from now.” This sentence isn’t particularly interesting to me content wise, but I was fascinated by the grammar choices that Sapphire made. She is writing in dialect and we can clearly hear Precious’ voice in these words, but Sapphire also gives us a structure, a flow to the text. She adds commas, semi-colons and periods. She shapes these words into something cohesive and sensible, even though the words are misspelled or written phonetically. By making this rhetorical choice, Sapphire gives the readers something to grasp unto and find sense and structure in despite the dialect-heavy text she has created.
Besides the grammar choice, as I was reading Push, I thought it was interesting how Sapphire shaped the time in the book. At one point, Precious writes in her journal that two years have passed, which makes sense since she is no longer living with her mother, has improved her reading and writing so drastically and Abdul is walking. However, when I read that I was completely caught off guard. I felt no sense of time lapse in this book as I was reading. I think in mind all of the events happened over the course of a year; which makes no sense seeing as how Precious is pregnant, has Abdul and he begins talking and walking. I’m not sure if this loss of time was a good or bad thing for me as I was reading. I think it fit perfectly with the structure of Precious’ life: the first 16 years of her life were horrific and her days were marked by sexual assault and violence. In that regard, I think Sapphire made a brilliant rhetorical choice in making time almost ambiguous, but in regards to my comprehension and ability to follow the noel chronologically, it was definitely confusing.
The dialect this was written was an important rhetorical choice by Sapphire. The book begins with Precious being illiterate. This means that she could only tell the story through spoken language. The story is written in the dialect in which she speaks. I read a couple sentences out loud, and it was so much more powerful than the book already is. I read Their Eyes Were Watching God junior year of high school, and the same went for this book. At time the stories were hard to follow because of the way in which they were written. The story comes alive when it is spoken out loud. I tried to do this every chapter or so when reading Push.
With the use of this dialect, the reader knows when Precious is writing in her journal and when she is speaking. As she learns to spell and structure sentences, her writing becomes more and more proper. It is interesting that there is no change in the way she speaks.
I agree with Hannah that reading the book the way Precious speaks drew me into the novel. It really shows how many tragic events have happened in this girl’s life. Sapphire does not censor much in this book, and it really paints a picture for the reader.
Speaking of censorship, I’m not sure I agree that this is a young adult novel. I would never hand this to my 14-year-old god-sister, who still loves reading the Clique series. It just seems inappropriate for her to be reading. Knowing her, I don’t think she would be able to get through it because of the graphic content. This is, of course, one individual. I certainly would not recommend it to children in middle school. The Young Adult genre does target children intermediate school aged as well. I think this book, since it is labeled as Young Adult, needs to be stressed that is is for more mature readers.
When I first started push I thought there’s no way I am going to be able to get through this. I don’t think I have ever read a book that described so intricately the abuse on someone so young. But, once I got past the intense subject matter, the book really started to grow on me. I think the voice of Precious is so beautifully constructed and truthful throughout the book. I found myself cracking up at certain things she would say like when she stole the fried chicken. But then I realized how extremely sad it is that she has to steal to eat, or how unfair it is that she is dealing with AIDS and two children due to her rapes. Her voice really resonated with me. I connect with the character precious even though I don’t necessarily relate to her at all. We couldn’t be more opposite, and I couldn’t imagine my life in her position but through reading this story I started thinking about issues that I hadn’t given much thought to previously.
Another part of the book that I loved was the series of letters. I thought it was so smart how we could see Precious’s progression through how she spelled words and what she was talking about. When I saw a poem on there I was like whattttt! Oh shit you go girl! Little victories like that just seemed so monumental in her life and it really made an impact on me. Also her relationship with her teacher was, for lack of better word, precious. Sapphire wrote this relationship in such a believable way that I wonder if she had a teacher like this in her past that inspired her the same way Blue inspires Precious.
I don’t need to say it because everyone else has, but Push blew me away. I knew Push was an emotionally charged (true) story of a female who was abused and mistreated (amongst other things), but I had no idea it went this far. And I’m aware that we should be looking at these books rhetorically but the actual plot of the book was unreal. Push is by far the most difficult book I have ever read. Rhetorically speaking, this book beats out anything else we’ve read so far this semester.
The first paragraph of the book set up the rest of the book for me more than the first paragraph did for any other book. The constant misspelling of words, fragmented sentences and the overall lack of proper sentence structure pulled me into the book more than I wanted. I couldn’t help but feel closer to Precious as she would try and convey her upsetting life to us in incomplete thoughts. What kept the story moving was the rapid-fire of utterances that needed to be pieced together at the end of each paragraph. The description of how Precious’ father rapes her would have been less disturbing if it was written “properly”. But because of the way it’s written, it was easier for me to give Precious a voice and easier for me to imagine what was going on. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but the way the book is written is better than a script for me. And what I love most about the writing style is how Precious gets better and better at expressing her thoughts. This progression truly allowed me to grow with Precious because I was a able to grow with her as the book went on. It’s the most obvious yet the most compelling rhetorical device I’ve learned about thus far. The way Sapphire makes the reader connect with Precious through a gradual process of learning gives me chills. I couldn’t wait to get to the next chapter to see how Precious’ writing had changed.
Push is- curious. It’s got a voice like nothing else we’ve read so far deliberately calculated seemingly to establish the environment. I think largely the broken conversation of the author works brilliantly- it never seemed overwrought enough to tip into artificiality. Sapphire never shies from sensitive situations. Rape, welfare and social immobility are all addressed directly- this strikes me as a deliberate choice. The author has established a report with us- we know what we hear is honest as Precious understands it.
I thought structurally the decision to end the book on a note of ambiguity succeeded in walking that fine line between realism and overwhelming despair. For this book to draw us in it needs to present actual drama- yet at the same time it needs to avoid generating such a despairing perspective that we loose interest in the characters as our minds close themselves off to the stimulus. I can’t help but wonder what kind of work went into excluding some of the dark experiences the character might have gone through in favor of those used. If I accept that every aspect of the narrative was a choice I want to know why there was no effort made to contextualize Mrs. Rain.
Mary the mother is clearly a self interested person. She also happens to be the weakest character of the book. Her complete lack of positive qualities is less than convincing- if only she could have been flushed out further if only we had a meaningful sense of her own experience it might make her role easier to understand and accept. A trap people often fall into with this kind of story is to distort the supporting cast as a furtherance of the central characters experience. While this often works without incident I found myself constitutionally repelled by the extreme to which the mother has been. If any element of the book came close to damaging its formidable strengths it was the portrayal of this “evil” woman.
The decision to rely on female sisterhood in the book seems to grant it an audience appeal it wouldn’t otherwise have. The in the moment elements of narration help to carry the story along with an urgency that it couldn’t otherwise muster. The chief concern I had walking away from this book was that it’s investment in a belief in empowerment robbed it of the possibility for deeper cultural commentary. The “welfare utopia” so often harped upon is put in sharp contrast here- it’s a shame it couldn’t be put on a taller pedestal.
HOLE-Y-CRAP. MICHELE WTFFFF there was some really scary stuff in this crazy book….
I saw the movie, left depressed, never had any inkling to read the book. but DAYUM am I glad I did. I thought it was beautiful, honest, strange, and ugly, but real. Just like H. Sorgi said up above- it reminded me of Freedom Writers, ESPECIALLY the end, with the other girls’ journal entries. I hope in class we can discuss how necessary they are…. I like them… it somehow makes the story more “global” in a way… like, sure, we know Precious, but there’s this other girl that’s 30something etc. I liked reading more of P’s poems, but if Sapphire HAD done without the class log, perhaps they could have been integrated into the story, with no loss to the reader.
I loved how developed Precious was a character- beyond all of her familial struggles, she had serious identity issues too…. that’s such an obvious thing for a girl this age to have, yet at first thought, it would seem secondary to all the other bad things that are happening to her- and yet BECAUSE she has these identity thoughts, It makes her even more of a true, honest character.
I’m talking about all the little comments she makes about how inside she’s a little white blonde skinny girl, perfect and loved etc. I think that even the outwardly skinny blonde girls can understand this idea- that we aren’t always who we appear to be- that our inward identity can truly be anything, from an anime lover to a person of a completely different sex! Not to bring in our supppper fabulous classroom debate on the comparison of relate/connect- but I think that in this crazy-ass book, filled with these horrific details of incest and abuse, P’s struggles with identity ARE the number one thing that makes her relatable, and the BOOK is therefore all the easier to connect with.
This novel was heart breaking. I saw the movie and thought the movie was heart breaking, but the intimacy that a book offers just bought me so much closer to Precious. It also raises some very real issues that are very important in the African-American Community and in women’s lives in general: violence, domestic abuse, rape, the public school system, HIV/AIDS, self oppression .
While I think it can definitely start great conversations, I have to wonder, based on the class discussion we’ve had, “is it painting a negative image of African-Americans?”
AND whether or not it is, is this story just plain cruel. I mean I’m sure it’s possible and it might happen, but Sapphire just really gives no hope to Precious. The girl gets rape twice by her father at different time periods, one of her children has down syndrome, her mother abuses her…it’s one thing after another. She even left us hanging as to what happens in her life. Poverty is a cycle and learning to write poetry doesn’t get you into college, the one hope at stopping the cycle for her…
Rhetorically, what a fantastic novel! I love language, and the use of African-American Vernacular English coupled with Precious’ illiteracy is very true to the story. I really like how the novel gradually improves as her language improves.
Also, including the poetry at the end from the students from the remedial school was also very smart because it definitely softened the mood a bit.
Push is one of my favorite books because Sapphire writes the book as if she is Precious Jones. She writes the book as an illiterate twelve year old girl. I read this book my freshman year of high school when many people did not know about the book. When I first brought the book home, my sister asked me why I continued to read these urban novels if what happens in these books happen around us every day. I responded by saying although it may happen every day it has not happen to me nor has it happened to anyone close to me. These “urban” novels as she called them allowed me to view the lives of struggling teens; it forced me to understand that every young girl did not have the same experiences as me. Life was not fabulous for everyone. Sapphire did a great job showing how Precious progresses as a character, from her writing ability to trying to provide a better life for herself and her children. Ms. Rain by far takes the cake as “the Archie” because she pushes Precious to do well for herself and her children and lets her know that she should not give up. Sapphire brought the characters to life and she gave vivid descriptions that would resonate with anyone just because of the intensity of each experience Precious went through. This books forces me to ask myself and question why a twelve year old had a baby. Why her father was not arrested after finding out the raped her? This brings me back to Monster and how our justice system does not always work in favor of minority groups. This book gives the reader both perspectives of the parents playing a role and not playing a role. By far one of my favorite books thus far.
I don’t want to sound like everyone else but this book is pretty amazing. I am not going to lie because of the background knowledge that I had of the book I was more intrigued to reading it. I unlike other people read this book after watching the movie. It was easier to picture the events that happened throughout the book. With that said it made it even more difficult to read. A lot of these books we can picture these characters but when you have faces to match them up too it just makes it even more real. I found it genius how the author wrote this book in a way we could understand the feeling that Precious Jones felt.
I really enjoyed the fact that we were able to see Precious’ growth throughout the book. From the first line we were able to see that she lacked writing skills. As the book progressed her writing did as well.
To comment on what Carla wrote on censorship. She said that this is not a book that she would hand to her 14-year-old sister. This is not my point of view. It is all because of where I come from. This is a common book that would be given to an adolescent from New York City. Subjects like this is something that they are quite aware of from the time they start their adolescent years. I think it is a good think that they knew about these things because in the end they are not as naive of things like this when they grow older and presented with the topic.
While I think that this is a great book to read I would have preferred to either have this one or MONSTER not both. I say this because for people who don’t come from cities where this is something spoken about a lot it would be shocking which in turn formulates a stereotype of the African American community.
At first I did not want to read the book because I saw the movie, but I am glad that I did because it contained so much more detail and gave me so much more of who precious really is that I became mesmerized. Sapphires choice to write the story in the voice of an impoverished and illiterate girl was genius because we were able to get inside of Precious’ head and see the world through her eyes; which was horrible since it took place during the time of racialized poverty, the crack epidemic, and AIDS. The way Sapphire presents the life of an inner city black youth is commendable because not many people can do it and many who try, merely stick to exaggerated stereotypes of black culture. This book was real to me and I did not live it, Sapphire’s ability to present the reader with a deeper look into Precious’ life, showing what attributed to the condition that she is in now is admirable. I love how the book was structured to show Precious’ progress because it made me feel as if I was on this journey as well. As for the “archie,” (speaking of which, I think we should redefine it) not only do it think it was Ms. Rain but I think her mother, herself, and the other girls at the school are all archie. I say Ms. Rain because she gave her the courage to stand on her own, the push that she needed to take that leap, and the love she never had. I say her mother because she influenced precious to take a look at her life and determine whether or not she wanted that for her children. And the girls because they are all so different, with different stories, backgrounds, lives, and experiences; that they “force” precious to develop a love for those who are different from her and realize that a difference on the outside does not mean a difference on the inside.
Wow, where to start in a book that deals with so many big topics and issues. One thing that immediately comes to mind is that Push is in the adult fiction section of the library. Now I know why. The language in this book was unbelievable for many reasons. Sapphire was extremely explicit when describing sex, abuse and rape, topics that could cause classification as adult fiction by themselves. In my mind, this booked crossed a line for appropriateness for adolescents. The rape and abuse scenes were just too much for me, even though I understood that they were there to help us fully understand Precious’ life. Sapphire also did not sensor any swear words or other derogatory terms. This of course was part of the true dialogue of all the characters and of Precious’ writing.
One thing that bothered me about this book was how Precious talked about race. She says “if life was perfect…I would be light skinned, thereby treated right and loved by boyz. Light even more important than being skinny”. In other words, she would not be in the position she’s in if she were white. I think this sends the completely wrong message to any age and race of reader. It is highlighting the fact, or what would more accurately be considered a stereotype, that issues such as rape, abuse and HIV/AIDS don’t happen to white people. What does this mean for a white reader who is facing such issues? Does he or she start to question whether their issues are real or abnormal? Beyond that, it is strengthening the stereotype that certain issues only happen to certain types of people, which is obviously untrue- anyone can be raped and abused.
Besides race, Sapphire also explores identity. Of particular interest to me was how Precious describes how she is “like a white girl, a real person, inside” and also how she is out of the picture and circle. This reminded me so much of Lia in Wintergirls, as they both had an image of what a real girl is and strive to achieve that.