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The Kid: A Novel Paperback – June 26, 2012
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“A devastating voice, demanding and raw . . . an accomplished work of art.” — THE LOS ANGELES TIMES
“The breathtaking velocity and visceral power of her prose soars off the page…The Kid gives us a story and a narrative voice which, like his mother’s before him, should definitely be heard.” — THE GUARDIAN (UK)
“[P]owerful… affecting and harrowing.” — Michiko Kakutani, THE NEW YORK TIMES
“[Sapphire] remains fearlessly committed to telling uncomfortable truths… Like Push, The Kid is deeply moving and unflinching.” — ESSENCE
“The Kid’s unflinching authenticity makes it tough yet ultimately rewarding to read.” — PEOPLE
"Steely-eyed, full-frontal daring." — PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER
About the Author
SAPPHIRE is the author of two collections of poetry and the bestselling novel Push. The film adaptation of her novel, Precious, received the Academy Award for Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress. She lives in New York City.
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Top Customer Reviews
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. So, in essence, EVERYTHING Precious worked for in "Push," from her writings to her child, have been for naught. Here, that book's legacy has been stomped upon. Spit upon. Trounced. It's sickening, it really is.
If she really wanted to just kill off Precious this bluntly, why didn't Sapphire do it at the end of "Push"? If that's all her life really meant, that is. Or why couldn't Sapphire have simply started fresh and had a different, new character be the mother here? Why? Perhaps because of the shock value? Because this was the only way she figured she could sell some books? Or perhaps it was the only way she could sell this book, considering how inane and disgusting the rest of the content was? I can't fathom another reason, based in emotion, for her to do it.
So we are left with Abdul to go through much of the same 'ole stuff we read about before. But, instead of watching a character learn to fight back and protect herself, we watch a young man's slide into evil...or slow embrace of evil, whichever you prefer. Abdul becomes a monster that metaphorically rapes his mother's legacy by physically raping others. There are long, long (LONG!) passages of Abdul fantasizing about sexual assault and the descriptions of what he does or thinks about doing had me queazy. There's no underlying hope here, even after Sapphire introduces dancing as a way for him to apply himself (a fourth-rate rip-off of what she did with Precious' writing in "Push), and the odd thing is that, even with all the sickness in his mind, Abdul remains a sad, one-dimensional cardboard cut-out of a character we can't even hate because he's so paper-thin. You'd think if Sapphire would have applied so much time and effort (and fully knowing she would alienate her fans) into crafting this evil man as the protagonist of her book, she would have tried to make him the least bit interesting, no?
It's not even understandable half the time. The stream-of-consciousness writing that challenged the reader in "Push" seems lazy and cloying here, as if Sapphire just wrote whatever she felt like and didn't care enough to shape it into a cohesive narrative.
So what will you get out of this experience if you purchase "The Kid"? Well, for one you'll never be able to enjoy rereading "Push" again. You won't be able to respect the author again. You'll probably put it down halfway through because of all the fantasies of rape and molestation. It's not a good book on any level, from the writing to the character to the message.
Beginning with the traumatic loss his mother to the abuse suffered at the hands of the orphanage charged with his care, at every turn Abdul encounters adults who take advantage of his vulnerabilities. The real moment of clarity for me while reading this novel was the realization that Abdul could be - is - any number of children who find themselves at the mercy of "protective services" or a family where a multigenerational cycle of abuse has rendered them incapable of love or prosperity; instead only disdain and basic survival skills are passed on - neither of which is sufficient to nourish the soul.
Although one of the more challenging reads of the year for me I'm glad I stuck with it (and I'm glad to be done with it!) Sapphire's style moves from first person to stream of conscious in a way that often left me wondering and confused about what was really happening throughout the story. Although put off a bit by the novel's sexual content I realized that being a witness to the level of brutality encountered and perpetrated by Abdul is most likely an experience shared by many homeless youths; and it should be uncomfortable, enraging even. There's a lot in "The Kid" worth discussing in a wider public forum and I do appreciate the author highlighting the plight of the Abduls of the world. It's no easy read by I do recommend it.
The kid is a good work for the collegiate arena. It is certainly a learning tool for the young Social Work student, Literature professional, or phycology major. The Kid could shed a bit of light into the mind of victims of heinous crimes because it explores how the mind is capable of performing having been exposed to a certain stimuli. The Kid is a wakeup call for those that sleep ; it reminds us of the effect of HIV/AIDS on the African American communities. The author doesn't lecture about the HIV/AIDS epidemic, but she briefly reminds us of the "sins of our fathers" and the damage it causes. Four generations of kids raped is what the Kid entails. Lastly, the Kid is not for those who enjoy an easy quick read. It really is a teachers tool.