Sapphire’s Push, a slim novel about a 16-year-old African-American girl is not easy to read. First because the book is written from the point of view of an illiterate protagonist, Precious Jones, complete with all her slang, misspellings and bad grammar. And second because her story is horribly horribly painful. Precious has had to deal with the worst of what life has to offer (her father impregnates her first at age 12 and again at 16 and those aren’t even the most horrific experiences she’s had to suffer). But reading the book, which I’ve come to see as more a story of gender than one about race (all of the main characters are female, from Precious to her mother to her teacher, her social worker and all of her classmates), is well worth the pain. Precious’s courage and determination bolstered by the support of women who care for her speak volumes not only about the strength of the human spirit but also about the value of available support.
Read Push, and then go see Precious, out in theaters in early November. Based on the book and directed by Lee Daniels of The Woodsman and Monster’s Ball fame, it’s bound to be unflinching.
Bio: Katherine Dykstra is the nonfiction editor at Guernica. Her interview with Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, “Cracked, Not Shattered”:http://www.guernicamag.com/interviews/705/cracked_not_shattered/, appeared in Guernica’s August 2008 issue. Read her last recommendation “here”:http://www.guernicamag.com/blog/1288/staff_pick_katherine_dykstra_5/.