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Book: PUSH

March 25, 2010
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And now for something completely different.

As per my usual habit when a novel-based movie gets good reviews, I want to read the book before watching the movie. I know the movie is pretty intense, so I was prepared for an intense book.

And it was intense. And dense. And spare, at the same time. A little like the life it describes.

Claireece Precious Jones is 16 years old and lives with her abusive mother in Harlem. She has already had one child (at 12) by her father. She is obese, illiterate, falling to the bottom of a well of a million poverties. And yet… she wants to be more. Despite the fact that she cannot read, she likes school. She likes math. She wants to do well. If only… how?

Despite being pregnant with her second child (again by her father), she starts to do well at the new school her social worker has referred her to. Her teacher takes an interest in her, and she flourishes, learning to read, learning to write. She shows signs of being a poet.

Once she has her second baby, she starts to make big changes. She lives in a half-way house. She refuses contact with her horrible mother. She takes care of her child. And then… she finds out that her father has just died of AIDS. And she has to take the test, herself.

What more can you pile upon a single girl? Unfortunately, I know that this book is not an exaggeration for too many kids in this country. That alone makes me very sad. It’s not an easy book to read. It’s not an easy thought to have resting in your head.

Was the book good? Yes. Did I like it? I don’t know. But it was worth reading.

Written by poet Sapphire, I am not quite sure what I think about the language, since I am completely ignorant of whether it feels true or not. Still, it was interesting.

“…My name? Precious Jones. Claireece Precious Jones to be exact. Birth date? November 4, 1970. Where? “Here,” I say, “right chere in Harlem Hospital.” “Nineteen seventy?” the nurse say confuse quiet. Then she say, “How old are you?” I say, “Twelve.” I was heavy at twelve too, nobody get twelve ‘less I tell them. I’m tall. I jus’ know I’m over two hundred ’cause the needle on the scale in the bathroom stop there it don’t can go no further. Last time they want to weigh me at school I say no. Why for, I know I’m fat. So what. Next topic for the day.”

“I have to say sometimes I hate my muver. She don’t love me. I wonder how she could love Little Mongo (thas my daughter). Mongo sound Spanish, don’t it? Yeah, thas why I chose it, but what it is is 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’. I could just sit here wif my muver everyday wif the shades drawed, watching TV, eat, watch TV, eat. Carl come over fuck us’es. Go from room to room, slap me on my ass when he through, holler WHEE WHEE! Call me name Butter Ball Big MamaTwo Ton of Fun. I hate hear him talk more than I hate fuck.”

It’s not a gentle book. It’s harsh but good reading.

I am not at all sure I want to see the movie, however. Sometimes these things are more difficult to watch than they are to read about.

Anyway. That sort of wore me out. I have Remains of the Day sitting here waiting to be read, but it’s actually already overdue at the library, so maybe I should choose something else. I have Of Human Bondage, or that medieval mystery I never finished, or a couple other books which looked good until I got them home, and a whole stack of romantic/historical fantasy which a friend lent me (I’m always ambivalent about romance, but the books look fun…). What I want to read is more E. Von Arnim, and Auntie Mame, which I just requested from the library. I also need to make my Once Upon A Time challenge list, but I am plumb out of energy for that. It will happen this weekend.

Sigh. Well, maybe I’ll read Remains of the Day since I won’t be returning it until Saturday at least anyway. May as well. I wish it were Room With A View.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 25, 2010 11:39 am

    i have this movie on my netflix list. i keep moving it down because as much as i want to see it, i kinda dread it at the same time. my feelings are same for the book.

  2. March 25, 2010 4:27 pm

    I love this phrase: "to the bottom of a well of a million poverties." What a good way to put it. I know what you mean about books that look good until you get them home.

  3. March 25, 2010 5:40 pm

    Tammie: I know. That's how i feel about Boys Don't Cry — haven't been able to watch it, although I *want* to.Trapunto: isn't that a pity, when you get them home and realize you don't want them after all?

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