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4.4 out of 5 stars
Push: A Novel
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70 of 72 people found the following review helpful
Push documents the life of 16year old Precious,who is pregnant to her father for the second time and receives abuse not only from him, but also from her mother,her peers,figures of authority such as her teachers, but most of all from society.The book documents her struggles to survive and her story is one that has to inspire.Although the contents of the book may be shocking and horrifying, they are true to life as each and every day we hear reports about severe cases of abuse of children,adults,power etc.The book is superbly written in the language of Precious herself,meaning that it is at first difficult to understand,being somewhat illiterate.However,the reader is invited to travel with Precious through her world and through her achievements.The whole book is a story of strength,perserverance and determination.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 20 October 2005
I first read this book when i was 18. It opened my eyes. I had never heard of this level of abuse a person could go through from people she should have been able to trust. It is not an easy read. Despite the horrendous desciptions, it became one of my favourite books because of her pure grit and determination to not be a victim and overcome all obstacles that were put in front of her. A very inspirational read.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 25 January 2010
Precious is a character that most of society would prefer not to read about - with her life story being a depressing sign of the times for how children are introduced to the mysterious world of adults - just at a time when their hormones are making life confusing enough. Be warned, for this book is hard to 'enjoy' - with the subject matter often jaw dropping with its shock value. The book is not a true story but based on people who have gone through similar experiences. I can well believe, however, that the stories in it are true, especially given the expose over here of the baby 'P' tragedy. In a sense this book is more than a tad voyeuristic - with the reader being allowed to dip into a world they (thankfully) can steer clear of. The moral, though, of the book is clear: why ignore the problems of society just because they are difficult? If one child is saved through someone reporting abuse then Push has achieved more than a host of Booker prize winning books or 'celebrity' memoirs. If you want a book to stretch you and make you look inside your own head then buy this. If you want to stick your head in the sand then buy Jordan's latest book.
If you like this then I also recommend another book about overcoming adversity: One Love Two Colours: The Unlikely Marriage of a Punk Rocker and His African Queen by Margaret Oshindele-Smith (my wife). This is the true story of a UK based Nigerian woman and her marriage to a white working-class punk (me!) - another difficult book but one with an inspiring message.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on 23 June 2001
"Push"is an eye opener;exploring the harsh and destructive ways of life that are experienced by many unfortunate people in todays' society.It explores vividly the abuse of one girl,abuse that is both sexual,physical and mental, experienced at the hands of both her mother and her father.It is disturbing and plays on the mind afterwards,therefore the author ultimately achieves their goal,as the message that is conveyed throughout the novel stays with us and challenges our views on society,on life and on childhood and the loss of innocence.The novel mixes humour with poetry and is heavily weighted with adversity.The story is gripping and I found this novel impossible to put down,in fact I read it in about 3 hours,but it's contenet stayed with me for days afterwards.The voice demands attention and concentration and the novel made me experience a variety of emotions.The writing is extremely powerful,directly engaging the audience with the main character Precious,so much so that you cheer her on and pray that she makes a go of life and an escape from her oppressive childhood. The novel tackles issues of the day in a complately effective and engaging way voicing concerns of many in a vivid and descriptive way that sickens the reader.It is impossible to say that the book is throroughly enjoyable because the content is so disturbing and sickening,but it demands to be read and it truly is an admirable and fantastically inspiring novel.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 7 November 2011
I picked this up the other day as I was waiting for a library book to come through and didn't want to start anything too big/long. Stupid idea as I read this in one sitting so still had the same dilemma of having nothing to read whilst waiting for the library book.

This is a captivating read. Utterly depressing and melancholic. I loved the style and pace of writing. The entire account is mortifying and horrifying yet quite poetic in the author's prose.

When I first started reading it, I was immediately reminded of the Celie's limited style of language and naivety in Alice Walker's 'The Color Purple', so I was pleasantly surprised when Sapphire started talking about the same novel and making subtle comparative notes with her character and Walker's.

This was a quick read but utterly depressing and rather graphic in the accounts of child abuse and rape so certainly not for everyone. I'm intrigued to read the novel 'Push' now, but think I need some light entertainment before I do as I have an inkling it will just plunge me into despair.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 26 October 2013
Her name is Clarece 'Precious' Jones. She is a 16 year old girl, full of dreams and hope one day to escape her tragic life , which is indeed quite horrific, Precious and her mother who live together constantly in need, if I'm to express their situation with delicate words, do not stand each other, and the tension between the two is simply horrible. In addition, Precious suffers from severe obesity, the neighborhood where she lives is filled with crime, poverty, violence and most people around are vulgar. That means, one of those places that have a reputation rather problematic.
The period of time is the second half of the famous eighth decade of the previous century and this sincere brave little book written by Sapphire is a mirror of those times lost. While reading this book, the reader almost feel like diving into a capsule of misery and disorders, ignorant slang, dirty environment around the observed eye.
Precious was only 16, but it feels like she's a much more older than that. This is not surprising, really, because she is already the mother of two children - among them, a girl with problems of health mentality - which are the result of sexual crimes that her father was causing her from the delicate age of 3. In other words, these children are her brother and sister at the same time as they are her children.
Like this situation is not terrible enough, Precious suffers enormously from her mother, which - instead of helping her daughter - seems to have the intention of always insulting, hitting, all to ensure that Precious will suffer every moment of the day or night. This horrible woman does seem to be poorer than she really is, whenever a social worker arrives to write a reporting of the situation of Precious and her mother - who, as a fierce animal, is dedicated to find ways to achieve more money without penalty - never really gets out of her dilapidated home. Never bothers to find any job of any kind.
Such is the situation in which Precious is a prisoner - the ugly reality appears darker than the skin tone of the inhabitants of Harlem. Just desperate and with almost no confidence, no faith, Precious drags herself day after day, a daily struggle until a miracle will happen ...
But the happy truth is that there is a little light in this world of darkness, and Precious will soon discover the power of wanting what is hidden inside her spirit: the necessary courage to change life, away from the shadows of despair and start everything again.
She walks in the paths of life, with the help of some good people, like a social worker who accompany her during her battle against the mother from hell, a kind and nice teacher, Miss. Rain - who shows Precious how much it is significant to master reading and writing, to release all fears and dilemmas in an effective and creative way. Especially, Precious is inspired by her desire to give her baby (which has just been born during the course of this book), a better future and the opportunity to grow up to be happy and independent.
The more we advance in reading, the more Precious can see the world clearer and gain her right for peace of mind.
There were parts in this book that I almost could not read, hard and ruthless details - all expressed in such a grotesque manner.
Sticking through the story, though, I'm glad I read this important book. This is, in my humble opinion, a social document, a manifest that declares that only those who maintain, have the final victory.
So read this book, and after you did that, watch the film made about it, which is filmed in an amazing and realistic way, very faithful to the book's spirit. Both are highly recommended!
Thank you for the time spent reading my comment, even if it was a little long.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 6 April 2011
Here's one that really surprised me. Push by Sapphire is the book that the movie Precious was based on. I haven't seen the movie and I didn't know beforehand the extent of which this book would go to. Wow. I finished it of an evening (it isn't very long at all) and absolutely mesmerised by the character of Precious Jones. What a resilient and courageous character.

Precious Jones, is 16 and illiterate. When she's kicked out of school for being pregnant (for the second time and by her father) she is given the opportunity to attend an alternative school instead. There, surrounded by other young people in similar circumstances, Precious is able to learn in a more supportive environment with a teacher and other students who care about her. All of her life, Precious has been abused, sexually by her father, physically and emotionally by her mother. She's foul-mouthed and angry at the start and as the story continues she doesn't lose any of that attitude. But she is able to see more clearly, her worth, and her capabilities.

I really loved the message of this novel, to keep pushing forward and working hard to make something of yourself, to go after your dreams. I did find it a little difficult to read Precious' story as it's a written diary with spelling mistakes and bad grammar, but once I was used to the feel of it, I couldn't put this book down. Precious is a wonderful character, who I'll have a hard time forgetting.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 26 January 2010
From the very first paragraph we are taken straight into the world of Precious Jones and truth be told its not a world for the faint hearted. Pregnant for the second time by her own father Precious has grown up illiterate in the back streets of Harlem where the only thing she wants is an education which will bring freedom and opportunity. She lives with her abusive mother who is living off the money she receives for having her daughter and granddaughter living in the house, though in truth Precious's daughter has been shipped off to her grandmothers while her mother claims the extra money.

As we join Precious she is reflecting on her life and how she came to be in the position she is in and as you come to know her back story it not only makes you sad it also makes you quite angry. Precious is soon kicked out of high school under the pretext of simply `being pregnant'. However a teacher takes sympathy on her and has booked her on an alternative education course Each One Teach One. This is, Precious knows, probably the last chance she has of an education along with the likes of Rhoda, Jermaine and Rita (all with dark and unfortunate pasts) but with a second baby due, a mother who doesn't want her to do anything but be a slave and a means of benefits is Precious really ever going to change her life?

I thought, though in parts it made me angry, that this is one of the most amazing books I have read in a long, long time. It brings home the lives that some people live in modern times who could really be in the same city as we are and we just don't notice as though the book is set in the 1980's this is still going on. Precious is a remarkable character and a sign of hope in dark times, as are all the girls in her class at Each One Teach One and her teacher Blue Rain, having humour when most of us would give up. Though fictional this book packs a huge punch as you know that these things are really going on out there. We need books like this and people need to read them, especially when they are written with such a compelling, honest, emotional and occasionally funny voice. Not an easy read but most certainly a must read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 6 July 2013
Well I saw the movie and I thought it was horrific, but I wanted to get a little bit more from the story and I wanted to get to know the characters more intimately, and the book is just as dark, cold, stark, lonely, fear-inducing as the movie, but I mean those it all the kindest ways, because the characters in the book are so intriguing and so human that it's so worth the read. The follow up book "The Kid" is a must read too, its a lot longer and follows some of the same characters after the events of Push.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 24 July 2010
`Push' by Sapphire is the story of Precious a young, black girl from Harlem encouraged by her teacher Miss Rain, to push herself to improve her education and become an independent young woman.

Precious has never experienced love in her life only abuse, physical and sexual from her parents. As a young six year old she sits in class and doesn't communicate. She stops talking because other children make fun of her speech. At Each One/Teach One, Miss Rain picks up on the fact that she may have a hearing problem - `muvver' `insect/incest'. Precious at 16 years of age has never learned to read - all words look the same to her. But under the tutelage of Miss Rain, her new friends and her own inner desire to improve life for herself and her children, she gradually comes to realize that she can be a worthwhile member of society. She is a caring mother. She is determined that Abdul will learn to read and is determined to remove Mongo from the retard home where she is `left to lie on the floor in her own pee'. Precious proves to be a kind and decent girl. She is determined that Abdul will not become a crack addict and that he will have every advantage possible. He will be a well loved child.

I blame Precious' mother for her hellish upbringing. She kept hold of Carl by allowing him to molest Precious from an early age and she herself sexually and physically, molested her daughter. The school Principal has to share in the blame. The class teacher reported her concerns regarding Precious but was told to `concentrate on those who can learn'.

With the help of Miss Rain and her friends at Each One/Teach One, Precious begins to realize that there is a place for her in society. Each One/Teach One has been the saving grace for Precious due to the concern and help of an inspiring teacher, and friends with whom she can communicate and share her problems. Precious is half way to changing her life.

Precious has the inner wish for a better life and strives for it. She is crushed by the thought that Abdul might have the Aids virus, but she is determined to push herself in every way to improve her situation in life for herself and for her children.

I was moved and disturbed by this book. I worry that a quiet, troublesome, or unresponsive child in a reception class at school, may be from a troubled background, and if the class teacher does not pick up on this, or having reported her fears to the head teacher nothing is done to confirm or allay her fears, a child may grow up thinking that no one cares and will become a troublesome teenager hitting out at the world at large.

After reading `Push', I am now more aware that disruptive youngsters may have something seriously wrong in their background , and that they are crying out for help in the only way they know how, by using abusive language and behaviour. I will no longer be quick to judge.

Sapphire paints a picture of how a young person can win through against all the odds if given the right help. I give this book 10/10.

Isobel Duffy Motherwell
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