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The Kid Hardcover – July 5, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


Sapphire never flinches from the truth -- Bidisha Guardian Captures the gruelling heartbreak of trying to love anything when the world doesn't love you enough New York Herald Tribune Prepare to be harrowed; I was sobbing by the end of the first chapter ... [Sapphire] writes with a burning anger that gives this novel an explosive power The Times Sapphire is not your average writer. Brave, bold and uncompromising ... The breathtaking velocity and visceral power of her prose soars off the page ... The novel keeps you on tenterhooks -- Bernardine Evaristo Observer Explicit and damning in its depiction of a forgotten underclass ... Stunning ... Exhilarating Independent A dark and punishing tale Big Issue The Kid is deeply moving Essence Harrowing ... Masterfully narrated ... Powerful Diva Abdul's story is frighteningly realistic ... The novel itself is a consummate work of art, style and brains, shining at times with the possibility for hope and joy ... More accomplished than [Push] and a thousand times more frightening The List Painstakingly beautiful Scotland on Sunday --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Sapphire is the author of two collections of poetry and the bestselling novel Push. The film adaption of her novel, Precious (2009), received the Academy Award for Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress, in addition to the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Awards in the U.S. Dramatic Competition at Sundance. In 2009 she was a recipient of a United States Artist Fellowship. She lives in New York City.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Press HC, The; First Edition edition (July 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594203040
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594203046
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (140 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #754,423 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

157 of 174 people found the following review helpful By Robert Taylor on July 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I have a great admiration for Sapphire's "Push." It's a purposefully difficult, fascinating voyage into the dire life of young woman attempting to cope with a hateful world. That book challenges you with its writing, insisting you pay full attention and asking you to draw your own conclusions about certain passages or scenes.

Not only is "The Kid" a sickening reversal of the underlying messages contained in "Push," but it basically spits in the face of those who loved the first novel. What follows contains light spoilers, but nothing you wouldn't find in your favorite newspaper or magazine review.

Okay, so are we alone now? Good. Here's the deal. So Precious dies of AIDS and her son is left to suffer much the same fate his mother does. He's repeatedly raped, beaten and treated horrendously by Catholic brothers, his great grandmother and other boys. Oh, and then he turns into a psychotic monster who ALSO rapes and beats women and children.

Let's start with what happened to Precious and how this novel negates everything that made "Push" special. Okay, I get it, not every story gets a Hollywood happy ending, and that's fine. If Precious truly had to die because the story called for it and the death "meant" something to both readers and the characters in the novel, then so be it. But here she's eliminated quickly without anything near the tribute her character deserved. And why? So her own child, the boy she fought so long and hard in "Push" to save from this life, could be abandoned to that same life. You know, I could even buy that if it was done well and the story became something close to redemption. But here the Kid of the title (Abdul) becomes a monster and becomes the kind of man that, in another world, might have been one of the agressors that abused Precious.
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62 of 68 people found the following review helpful By Loren on July 8, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The Kid was a tough read. J.J.'s story is moving, revolting, sad, inspiring, deplorable. But I was hooked. I couldn't look away however rough it got. I felt for this kid. The author tells it like it is - and it's an outrage. J.J., a smart nine-year-old orphan and daydreamer with a vivid imagination, has to endure what any sane person would find unendurable, and it begins the day after his mother's funeral when he's thrown into a dysfunctional system of social services. I don't take J.J.'s story as necessarily a strike against Harlem (s*** also happens in well-manicured suburbs) so much as a strike against organizations responsible for the care of orphans.

J.J. encounters his first bully at a foster home and it doesn't end well. He is consigned to being bullied and abused until age and size make them less likely. But as he grows older he answers in kind, becoming a bully and abuser himself. Surprised? Hell doesn't produce saints. People can transcend their environments but not so frequently that we can take comfort in high-minded hopes for the future.

Tough reading but must reading.
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55 of 62 people found the following review helpful By L. on July 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The beginning of "The Kid" was reminiscent of "Push"-- a child in Harlem has the odds stacked against him. Everything that can possibly go wrong does, and does so in a horribly graphic way.

"Push," however, was better constructed. Sapphire's style tends to be tangential. She intentionally incorporates moments when you're not entirely sure of who's speaking and whether that character is functioning in a real world situation or is lost in fantasy. In "Push," you eventually figure it all out. The author paints a clear picture, albeit graphic and soul-crushing.

"The Kid" left me feeling lost. Somewhere within the first hundred pages, the plot arc deteriorates as Abdul loses his grip on reality. Fantasy intermingles with reality far too often, and one problem spirals tangentially into the next. I understand that Sapphire has done this intentionally as a stylistic choice and a means of expressing Abdul's mental state, but after 374 pages, I expected SOME resolution. Style clearly overshadowed plot and content. And, while "Push" ended with some tiny glints of hopefulness and positivity, "The Kid" simply ends in a web of confusion.
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52 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Luan Gaines HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover
His mother's name is Precious, but nine-year-old Abdul's name changes with the circumstances in Sapphire's grueling novel, the orphaned boy's identity defined by his caretakers. Caught up in the grinding bureaucracy of New York's child welfare system, Abdul travels the rootless terrain from his mother's deathbed to foster care, the Catholic St. Ailanthus School for Boys, an elderly great-grandmother and finally, the streets, where crafty predators await children who fall through the cracks, a surreal and Dickensian landscape, albeit modern-day. A stream-of-consciousness narrative illustrates the confusion of an innocent thrust into an indifferent society, where adults not only fail to protect but prey on their charges and other young victims become seasoned predators in kind. Large for his age, Abdul is often exposed to situations that would defeat an older boy, his identity and sense of worth dictated by a system that rejects him out of hand.

Physically and emotionally battered in each new placement, Abdul's strong spirit is molded by caretakers and peers alike, a bizarre world where curiosity blooms but base instinct dominates daily survival. This is a boy under assault, caught in a broken system, a department so rigidly institutionalized that compassion and kindness are nearly nonexistent. Abdul's mother, Precious, fought the darkness of a violent life, claiming a small piece of happiness for herself and her son, her love the one constant in a bleak existence. Abdul endures, learns to accommodate, his mind filled with fragments of memory, family history, a blend of reality and fantasy from Mississippi to the flowering of Harlem, from predatory priests to dance and a downtown loft where other lost children gather as like recognizes like, broken knows broken.
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