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Push : a novel
Sapphire
Adult Fiction SAPPHIR

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From Publishers' Weekly:

With this much anticipated first novel, told from the point of view of an illiterate, brutalized Harlem teenager, Sapphire (American Dreams), a writer affiliated with the Nuyorican poets, charts the psychic damage of the most ghettoized of inner-city inhabitants. Obese, dark-skinned, HIV-positive, bullied by her sexually abusive mother, Clareece, Precious Jones is, at the novel's outset, pregnant for the second time with her father's child. (Precious had her first daughter at 12, named Little Mongo, "short for Mongoloid Down Sinder, which is what she is; sometimes what I feel I is. I feel so stupid sometimes. So ugly, worth nuffin.") Referred to a pilot program by an unusually solicitous principal, Precious comes under the experimental pedagogy of a lesbian miracle worker named, implausibly enough, Blue Rain. Under her angelic mentorship, Precious, who has never before experienced real nurturing, learns to voice her long suppressed feelings in a journal. As her language skills improve, she finds sustenance in writing poetry, in friendships and in support groups-one for "insect" survivors and one for HIV-positive teens. It is here that Sapphire falters, as her slim and harrowing novel, with its references to Harriet Tubman, Langston Hughes and The Color Purple (a parallel the author hints at again and again), becomes a conventional, albeit dark and unresolved, allegory about redemption. The ending, composed of excerpts from the journals of Precious's classmates, lends heightened realism and a wider scope to the narrative, but also gives it a quality of incompleteness. Sapphire has created a remarkable heroine in Precious, whose first-person street talk is by turns blisteringly savvy, rawly lyrical, hilariously pig-headed and wrenchingly vulnerable. Yet that voice begs to be heard in a larger novel of more depth and complexity. 150,000 first printing; first serial to the New Yorker; audio rights to Random; foreign rights sold to England, France, Germany, Holland, Portugal and Brazil. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Performance poet Sapphire unflinchingly probes the consciousness of an all-too-real teenager from a severely abusive household. Push opens to find Precious‘fat, unloved, illiterate, deeply confused, routinely raped by her father, and physically and emotionally molested by her mother‘enduring her second incestuous pregnancy. Crawling from self-hatred and violent loneliness to determination and, occasionally, hope, Precious enters a pre-GED program, learns to read, bears her second child, and breaks from her parents, all under the inspiration of Blue Rain, her steadfastly encouraging and apparently tireless new teacher. Precious's name loses its irony but soon takes on a dark new meaning as she learns the extent of her father's abuse. Written as an internal monolog and journal entries by Precious, with her rudimentary spelling skills and abrupt transitions, Push is compelling, graphic, and occasionally facile but disturbing and not soon forgotten. Recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/1/96.]‘Janet Ingraham, Worthington P.L., Ohio (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Claireece Precious Jones
Female
Age: 17
African American
Student



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