First Published: 1996
Source: Library | Recommendations from all corners of the blogging world | I read this for the POC Challenge
In a nutshell
Sixteen-year-old Claireece Precious Jones is again pregnant. As if that is any fault of hers, she is kicked out of her school and her mother verbally assaults her for "stealing" her husband. She had her first child when she was twelve; the child itself a victim of Down's Syndrome. Then a teacher from her school begs her to attend a Higher Education Alternative / Each One Teach One school. This one gesture from the teacher sets the path for Precious' desire to be free of her mother's clutches and make her own path.
Several years ago, when I was still in high school and believed that although the world wasn't wholly good, it wasn't too bad either, I came across a news item of an eight-year old girl in a Middle East country, who was repeatedly raped by her father, and thus made pregnant as well. The news horrified and numbed me. Reading Push was, in a way, a huge reminder to me of that one incident, the one that probably stripped off the fancy glasses from my irises.
When I read how Precious' mother blamed her for having sex with her husband, I was enraged. There are many cultures where the woman is still blamed for a rape. Then it becomes a social stigma. Push especially brings out the victim's point of view very well. When her father rapes her, he calls her a lot of obscene words. When he thrusts himself into her, she is terribly guilty and confused about the feelings of pleasure that she gets. She doesn't want to enjoy it, and is ashamed of her body for betraying her.
When Precious starts alternative school, she just wants an education. When she sees that the other women with her in the class are as scarred as her, she feels hope for the first time in her life. She admires her teacher, Ms. Rain, and respects her ideas. The bonding she develops with Ms. Rain and the other students is very touching.
Precious starts off being unable to read and write. Under Rain's guidance, she transforms into an educated woman. This is especially evidenced by Precious' writings in her journal, whose pages are occasionally captured in Push. The very first words that Precious writes are:
li Mg o mi mBy the end of Push, she has mastered basic English and started writing poems.
(Little Mongo on my mind)
It is occasionally hard to believe that Precious is only sixteen. She shows the maturity of someone much older. Her first daughter, who she named Little Mongo because she has Down's Syndrome (Mongo is short for Mongoloid, an offensive word in itself, also used to refer to the eyes of a person with DS), is being cared for by her grandmother. Because of little awareness of the syndrome, Little Mongo does not receive any special treatment.
Push is a very powerful book written in a raw and nitty-gritty style. It is easy to read and not be affected by it. Being told mostly in first-person, it is a diary of Precious' thoughts. Along with all the goodness in her, you get exposed to her curses and a lot of the choicest words. Deep inside, her innocence and maturity are evident. Her love for her son, Abdul, feels so warm that the reader is happy that he was born, and then you feel guilty of that thought, remembering the circumstance under which he was born. Precious is also confused by the same conflicting emotions. I'd totally recommend this book. Although just under 200 pages, I took a long time to read it, because of the accent of the characters and also the rambling thoughts of Precious, that can sometimes be hard to follow.
Although this book is about how one girl triumphs over her demons to get over her inhibitions, there is a lesson in it for everyone. At so many places, I could see how a little push can change your destiny one way or the other. What if that teacher had not begged Precious to attend alternative school? What if Precious was not infuriated with her mother? What if Precious never got pregnant but was still raped? Literally when Precious pushes during delivery, and figuratively when Precious pushes herself to learn, evidence of the persevering human spirit can be seen.
What did you think?
Have you read this book? I'd like to know what you thought about it. Please leave your review link in the comments, or a brief opinion, if you hadn't reviewed it.
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