Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Push-Sapphire

Push-Sapphire

the facts
satisfaction: side
pages: 162
gender: F
nationality: USA, of color
year: 1996
Novel

An electrifying first novel that shocks by its language, its circumstances, and its brutal honesty, Push recounts a young black street-girl's horrendous and redemptive journey through a Harlem inferno. For Precious Jones, 16 and pregnant with her father's child, miraculous hope appears and the world begins to open up for her when a courageous, determined teacher bullies, cajoles, and inspires her to learn to read, to define her own feelings and set them down in a diary.

Yeah, I'm late to this party. I never saw the movie and never read the book. You see, I heard all the comparisions to The Color Purple. I didn't enjoy reading Walker and didn't relish another foray into the world of an illiterate narrator whose life, quite frankly, just sucks. I berate myself though with a 'but seriously, what kind of attitude is that?' So I put it on my reading list for the GWC challenge to make sure I stopped giving myself excuses for avoiding a 160pg book.

That trepidation? Well deserved. From the start to the finish Precious has a horrible life and Sapphire gives you details-somewhat triggering details. I mean, almost shock value details. But the details are usually well incorporated into the plot so I don't feel like they were always gratuitous. There are a lot of attitudes to make you cringe like when Precious is like "I know I've got something of value inside!" and I'm all like yeah, Precious! and then she's like "and the inside me is light-skinned!" and I just flinch.

In some ways I had difficulty buying the late 80s-early 90s Harlem Sapphire paints. It seems painted with stereotypes...and you know, devoid of anything pleasurable to us outsiders. Obviously, I know nothing about it personally but there was something somewhat anachronistic about it all. There was something too extreme about it-like Sapphire took all the stereotypes of white people's fears about the inner city and put them in a black girl's mouth. But maybe that's just wishful thinking-maybe I just want it to not be that bad anywhere.

Anyhow it starts out being fairly difficult to read as there's no real style to the narrator's mispellings and grammar but it gets easier as the book goes in correlation to the education Precious was finally getting. But it does get annoying that the misspellings are so random and inconsistent. The book in the end seems to be more about the triumph and value of a proper education rather Precious's own personal rise above her obstacles and surroundings.

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