Customer Reviews: Push: A Novel
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on April 28, 2000
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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VINE VOICEon January 6, 2010
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".

Once I got past the grammar and spelling issues - I was basically moved to tears. Precious' struggle is so raw, disturbing, sad... and yet there was hope within it too. I could not put it down and read the whole thing in one sitting. The whole time you're reading this you can't help but think that there are people out there who have lived this sort of life - and it makes it even more heart-breaking to read.

This is a story that will stick with you long after you have put it down. It will open your eyes to the reality that these issues do occur and will make you rethink your own problems (which seem so insignificant when compared to a life like this). But as you close the cover you will come to realize that you will never forget Precious Jones.
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on January 26, 2010
From the very first page I became immersed in the world of Claireece "Precious" Jones. Sapphire pulled me into the abuse immediately. Precious was sexually abused by both her mother and father. She birthed two children by her father and throughout much of her life longed for his comfort. She was physically and verbally abused by her mother. In addition, her mother forced her to eat constantly, causing her to become morbidly obese. Aside to those things, there was the traditional poor Black experience, full of illiteracy, a dysfunctional school system, and poverty. At times I paused to reflect when the story became intense. The story was so intriguing that I called up several people and told them about what was happening as I read it.

The thing that bothered me the most about Precious' struggle was her illiteracy because I know that it is very difficult to amount to anything if one is illiterate. And so, The first hurdle that Precious began to overcome was illiteracy (Sapphire is telling you something). She could not read at all prior to enrollment at an alternative school. At that school she met people that were kind to her and genuinely loved her for the first time in her life. By the end of the story Precious overcame her mother, illiteracy, and even her father. With her potential, it seems reasonable that even her economic situation may improve. It is encouraging to know that even someone such as Precious, who endured so much, can find a measure of closure and achievement. I thoroughly enjoyed the ending, it did not disappoint me. I recommend that you read Push as well.
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on March 7, 2000
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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on December 16, 1999
Push. Thrust. Drive. Ram. Move forward. Set in motion. Press on. It all encompasses the very essence of what it is to struggle. There are two ways of exerting force, one is by pushing down, the other by pulling up. Sapphire certainly pushed the envelope with this first novel. These women tapped into their last reserves of strength to move forward under brutal and bizarre circumstances. They have collected what little is left of themselves, pulled together in the spirit of love and compassion, and decided to press on. This novel is a powerful display of perseverance, and determination. Read this book and know that whenever you feel like you just can't keep going, all you need to do is Push a little harder, pull someone with you, and keep moving on.
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on June 16, 1997
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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on September 30, 2010
Claireece Precious Jones is a 16-year-old girl who lives on Lenox Avenue in Harlem. She is completely illiterate and pregnant with her second child by her father. Her father is married to someone else, but he comes around sporadically to take their money, demand sex from her mother, and rape Precious. This has been going on as long as Precious can remember.

Precious' mother is livid at Precious for `stealing my man.' Precious' mother never leaves the apartment and requires that Precious do all the cooking and cleaning. She is profoundly abusive to Precious - emotionally, physically, and sexually. This, too, has been going on as long as Precious can remember. Later in the book, Precious resists her therapist's request that she try to recover her first memory of her mother. Precious avoids this because she already knows quite well what her earliest memory of her mother is - "the smell of Mama's [vagina] in my face."

Push, told almost entirely in the first person, is brutally frank. There are no euphemisms in this book. Far from it. And yet, this remarkable book by Sapphire is an uplifting revelation that will fascinate and surprise you. It will leave you feeling good and wanting more. Pick up this book and read it. It will repay you a thousand times over.

I come to this book as a therapist who has long specialized in treating adult survivors of childhood abuse. I wish I could recommend Push to many of my patients, but I am hesitant to do so because they would find the book much more difficult to read than would a person with a normal childhood. Why? Because Precious' words and descriptions are so likely to trigger unwanted memories and even flashbacks in readers with a serious history of abuse. In fact, I hesitated to include the brief quotation that ends my second paragraph (above), but I did not know a better way to telegraph the quality of this book to potential readers.

There is no third-person description of Precious and her life. All is conveyed via Precious' thoughts, wonderings, and internal comments about her own experience. Precious does not describe her abuse; she tells us what is happening inside her.

As a therapist, I am awed by Sapphire's ability to evoke, entirely from a subjective point of view, the psychological and clinical phenomena of child abuse. As I read this book, I could see Precious' shame, confusion, flashbacks, depersonalization, derealization, escape into autohypnotic fantasy, self-injury, time loss, voices, and body memories. But these are my objectifying, third-person words. Precious gives us the experience of these phenomena from the inside, immediately, in her own words, feelings, and wonderings.

Oh yes, Sapphire is a poet. This book is poetic, too.
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on July 26, 2001
Sapphire's PUSH broke my heart. I read the book for my feminist book club, and I was one of the few who actually finished it--the others were too put off the brutal reality of Precious' life. I made myself read it because I KNOW there are women in this world who suffer fates as bad as--or worse than--that of Precious Jones. It's an ideal eye-opener for White, middle-class suburbia.
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on April 21, 2005
The novel that I read was entitled Push by Sapphire. This is a story about a young girl by the name of Claireece Precious Jones who is living in the ghettos on Harlem. She is pregnant with her second child by her father. Precious' father has been molesting her since she was five. Her has also been molesting her for the past few years. Precious is in the ninth grade, but she is supposed to be going into the twelfth grade. Her whole life has been a struggle. As she gets farther along into her pregnancy, the school tells her that she has to go to an alternate education. Precious is very upset but she goes. The new school that Precious attends puts her in a very low class because she is only on a second grade level. Unfortunately Precious cannot read not write. As she gets better in the school her mother tries to take her children away from her. Luckily she gets to keep both of her kids and she moves out of her mother's house. Precious then moves into a youth home and tries to raise her two children on her own. As the book goes on it gets better with every page.

The main characters are Claireece Precious Jones, her mother, Ms. Rain, and the students in her class. The main characters such as Ms. Rain and her classmates encouraged Precious to try and learn how to read and write. They also helped her become a better person. Precious' mother on the other hand did the exact opposite. She verbally and physically abused Precious. My favorite character was Ms. Rain. I enjoyed her because she was one of the only positive influences that Precious had.

Even though I could not relate to this book I was still touched by it. This book has made me realize some of the struggles that our young African American females go through on a daily basis. I have also learned that inside every human being there is something special. My favorite part of this book is when Precious overcame all of her obsticles and got her GED. It it were up to me I wouldn't change this book not one bit. I think that everyone needs to read this book because it will change your whole mind set. This book will also make you realize that even though you are going through a lot, there is always someone worse off.
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on October 24, 2001
Push is a haunting story of an inner city teenager, forced to endure sexual, psychological and physical abuse at the hands of her so called "parents" and her climb out of ignorance. She becomes a virtual slave to her overweight, slovenly mother and a sexual toy for her depraved step father. Precious attends school but is so far behind in her education, she literally becomes "invisible" as she sits in the classroom without moving from her seat all day. The author's use of slang and the crude spelling of words and sentence structure allowed me the change to identify with the level of intelligence Precious had. The book held my attention as I read page after page of her journey. It was really marvelous to see the progress Precious makes thru her journal writing she actually become "visible". Definately worth the read.
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