Precious is the movie tie in edition of the book Push by Sapphire. Push is the story of Claireece "Precious" Jones, a sixteen year old girl who is a dark skinned, african american girl in ninth grade in Harlem. She is pregnant with her second child, both pregnancies by her father. She is illiterate, overweight, unloved and she endures unimaginable abuse by her father and mother.
Precious tells her story in her own unique voice, a stream of consciousness style of writing. It is written in the style of someone who never learned to properly read or write. The writing is crude and raw and you can see it change along with Precious throughout the book. Here is a passage where Precious describes herself:
"I big, I talk, I eats, I cooks, I laugh, watch TV, do what my muver say. But I can see when the picture come back I don’t exist. Don’t nobody want me. Don’t nobody need me. I know who I am. I know who they say I am – vampire sucking the system’s blood. Ugly black grease to be wipe away, punish, kilt, changed, finded a job for."
This is an incredibly difficult book to read due to the graphic nature and horrific abuse that Precious, a young child endured. It is heartbreaking, gritty, dark and stark. It's filled with unimaginable acts of violence and abuse but there is also hope that comes along to change the life of Precious. I suspected that the author, Sapphire, based this book on a true story. She explains in an interview on NPR:
The author says that she encountered girls like Precious while teaching — overweight girls who didn't fit into the confines of our society's beauty paradigm, girls who were essentially "locked out" of the broader culture.
"I wanted to show that this girl is locked out through literacy. She's locked out by her physical appearance. She's locked out by her class, and she's locked out by her color," says Sapphire. "I encountered this. I had a student who told me that she had had children by her father."
Please keep in mind that this book has explicit language and mature subject matter. It is not an easy book to read and it is not for everyone. It includes foul language, sexual references, sexual abuse and child abuse. It's not a book that I would usually pick up to read as the language and subject is very hard for me to read. I found that this book was hard to read but I felt compelled to read it as it gave me an understanding of what life can be like for young african american women and that my life as a white woman even though it can be filled with stress and strife is much different. It also showed me that simple acts of reaching out to others whose lives are different and challenging can make a big difference.
I haven't yet seen the movie Precious but plan to see it on DVD. I'm on the wait list at the library at number 825 or so and there are over 1,000 requests on the list.