Book review: Push

by Todd Foley

Push: A Novel

Brutal, ugly, horrific. Eloquent, beautiful, inspiring. Those are the conflicting emotions conjured up while reading this novel. Sapphire’s thoughtful and innovative prose brings Precious Jones – an illiterate 16-year-old with two children from her father – to life, draws you into her tragic world and carries you through her journey of making her life her own for the first time.

Here’s the premise: “Relentless, remorseless, and inspirational, this “horrific, hope-filled story” (Newsday) is certain to haunt a generation of readers. Precious Jones, 16 years old and pregnant by her father with her second child, meets a determined and highly radical teacher who takes her on a journey of transformation and redemption.”

Similar to Hubert Selby Jr.’s Requiem for a Dream, Push ignores conventional grammar and spelling rules so as to give the reader a first-hand account of Harlem life through the eyes of Precious. This approach is extremely effective, and I highly recommend this novel. The story is grim and real, but incredibly hopeful. Certainly not for the faint-hearted, but a powerful testimony to the life-changing power of language.

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