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Push: A Novel Paperback – April 29, 1997


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (April 29, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679766758
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679766759
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (721 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,523 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Claireece Precious Jones endures unimaginable hardships in her young life. Abused by her mother, raped by her father, she grows up poor, angry, illiterate, fat, unloved and generally unnoticed. So what better way to learn about her than through her own, halting dialect. That is the device deployed in the first novel by poet and singer Sapphire. "Sometimes I wish I was not alive," Precious says. "But I don't know how to die. Ain' no plug to pull out. 'N no matter how bad I feel my heart don't stop beating and my eyes open in the morning." An intense story of adversity and the mechanisms to cope with it.

Precious is now a major motion picture based on the novel Push by Sapphire, starring Gabourey 'Gabby' Sidibe, Mo'Nique, Paula Patton, Mariah Carey, and Lenny Kravitz. Enjoy these images from the film, and click the thumbnails to see larger images.




--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Sapphire was born in 1950 and spent her first twelve years on army bases in California and Texas. As a teenager she lived in South Philadelphia and Los Angeles. She graduated from City College in New York and received an MFA from Brooklyn College. From 1983 to 1993 she lived in Harlem, where she taught reading and writing to teenagers and adults. She lives in New York City.

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Customer Reviews

I watched the movie Precious before reading this book.
Amazon Customer
That enslavement created a viscous cycle of abuse in the descendants of its survivors much like was seen in the pages of Push and in the life of Precious Jones.
AfroerotiK
At the end, it felt like there should have been more but most good books leave me wanting to read more.
Danielle George

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

257 of 268 people found the following review helpful By Jessica Gilbert on April 28, 2000
Format: Paperback
I must admit, when I first began reading Push, I was a little uncomfortable with the narrative perspective because it was so blunt in its descriptions. However, as hard of a time as I had with reading this text, I had an even harder time putting it down. Sapphire's novel forced me to face the reality of the verbally and sexually abusive life that Precious Jones was forced to live in. Unfortunately, Precious is not alone and Sapphire took the first step in acknowleding this problem by putting it into words, even though the words make some uncomfortable. Once I started reading and listening to Precious, I could not let go. Precious Jones is a sixteen year old girl, verbally and physically abused by her mother and sexually abused by her father. She gives birth to two children, her own father also being father of her children. However, this book is not only an attack on the abuse that occurs within a family. Sapphire also places blame on the educational system that sits back while their students are deprived of educational advancement because of their situations at home. There are so many children, like Precious, who want to learn but come to believe that they are dumb because no one took the time to examine the problem closer. I hurt for Precious because she had no self esteem, how could she when her father stripped everything from her, including her virginity, before she was even out of elementary school. I could not put the book down without knowing how she was going to rise above her circumstances. I got so wrapped up in this book, believing in Precious and everything she went through. Sapphire's book involved so many emotions and was so inspiring that I believe no student or teacher should go without reading this book.
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63 of 69 people found the following review helpful By Nelaine Sanchez VINE VOICE on January 6, 2010
Format: Paperback
Claireece "Precious" Jones leads a tough life. She is abused by her mother, raped by her father, she is poor, angry, illiterate, fat, unloved and mostly unnoticed. She is pregnant by her father with her second child. She is 16 years old and still in Junior High School.

When a school administrator finds out that she is pregnant again - they quickly try to find another source of education for her. She is sent to alternative school. It is in this new school where Precious meets her new teacher, Ms. Rain. Ms. Rain is the first teacher who has ever taken the time to understand and really help Precious - along with some of her classmates. For the first time in her life, Precious feels like she belongs somewhere. She connects with her classmates, but especially with her teacher. Here she experiences the kindness of others, something completely foreign to her. She also comes to realize that she is not alone.

To be honest, I had never heard of this novel before I began to hear of the movie "Precious". I like to read the novel before I watch the movie, so when I began to read all the reviews on Precious I quickly ran out and purchased a copy of Push.

I really didn't know what to expect - but to be quite frank, I was really taken in by this novel. I did find it a little disturbing to read - here's a sample of how most of the book read:

" I was left back when I was twelve because I had a baby for my fahver. That was in 1983. I was out of school for a year. This is gonna be my second baby. My daughter got down sinder. She's retarded. I had got left back in the second grade too, when I was seven, cause I couldn't read (and I still peed on myself). I should be in the twelf' grade so I can gone 'n graduate. But I'm not. I'm in the ninfe grade".
Read more ›
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50 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Liesl English on March 7, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book was incredibly difficult to read due to the graphic manner in which the subject matter was relayed. But this same graphic manner made the book that much more powerful of a read.
Sapphire does a great job first having us identify the main character, Precious Jones, as other, someone separate from us, and then slowly pulling us in to get to know her. This technique allows us to recognize that someone in reality whom we identify as other can become someone we know and understand independent of our own personal situations.
Note to readers: make sure to read the poem in the beginning before and after reading Push and see how your understanding of that poem changes.
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35 of 39 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 16, 1997
Format: Hardcover
To call "Push", the first novel by noted African American poet and singer Sapphire, shocking or devastating would not adequately describe its incessant power.

The book is basically a diary that is both stark and realistic, as we are offered a look into Clareece Precious Jones' world: pregnant for the second time by her step-father, mentally and sexually abused by her own mother and neglected by an overwhelmed school system that makes it all too easy for a 16-year old from Harlem to fall through the cracks.

In the beginning the book may cause many readers to backtrack to get a true understanding of what they have just read. I would implore all to keep at it for "Push" drips with realism -- a realism that is all too often ignored or disbelieved. Luckily for Precious, her salvation comes at the hands of one dedicated teacher from an alternative school and her fellow students with whom she quickly bonds.

Sapphire, herself a former reading teacher, was clearly influenced by real-life people and that is conveyed strongly throughout the novel as all of the characters -- major and minor -- are complete and three-dimensional.

A very brief novel, "Push" does not offer a storybook ending and may even disappoint many with what they see as an incomplete ending. However, it concludes realistically as we AND Precious will have to wait and see what the future holds.
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