From the Publisher
“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
Sapphire, a fearless writer with complete command of her story, spares the reader nothingno comfort, no room to turn away. The only possible respite can be found in the poetry of her prose…What The Kid reveals about victims and perpetrators is not for the faint of heart.
The Washington Post
At its best, The Kid captures the grueling heartbreak of trying to love anything when the world doesn't love you enough, of trying to summon desire or affection in the absence of any healthy context for either one.
The New York Times
Fifteen years and an Oscar-nominated movie adaptation have passed by since Push, and, with Precious long dead, Sapphire unfurls the story of her son, Jamal Abdul Louis Jones. Orphan Jamal winds up at a foster home where he's mocked and beaten to the point of having to be hospitalized. Fast forward, and Abdul, going by the name J.J., is at the St. Ailanthus School for boys, where he's sexually abused by priests and in turn sexually abuses a couple of boys at the school. When J.J. is thrown out of the school, he struggles to handle his own conflicting desires and the rigors of getting by in a tough world by himself, often with very little comprehension of consequences. J.J. is a great creation, if a sometimes frustrating one: Sapphire excels at getting readers into the head of a frightened, enraged, and frustrated wild child, but that isn't always the best vantage point from which to watch this heartbreaking story unfold. This is a sobering and unflinching study of the legacy of abuse, and while the narration can leave readers more puzzled than piqued, it's a harrowing story. (July)
Difficult to read because of the subject matter and the experimental stream-of-consciousness narrative in which conversations, dreams, memories, and imagined scenes flow chaotically together, this sequel to Push comes 15 years after the best-selling novel that was the basis for the movie Precious. Now Precious's son is the one suffering a life of abuse. Forced into foster care at age nine when his mother dies, he can't even keep his name as he moves from one nightmarish situation to the next. The only constants throughout are (graphically described) acts of sexual and physical abuse by adults, leading him to abuse smaller boys. Stumbling into an African dance class one day, he discovers a talent for dancing, but it is unclear whether he's too psychologically damaged to be rescued by art. VERDICT Readers will need to have read the first book or seen the movie to understand many of the references here. While not as cohesive or as well written as Push, this title will still attract sizable demand from the author's fans and readers looking for gritty, urban fiction that tackles such issues as race, class, and sexual abuse.—Laurie A. Cavanaugh, Wareham Free Lib., MA
The larger audience attracted by the award-winning adaptation of the author's debut novel (Push, 1996, adapted into the filmPrecious) will recognize this sequel as "Son of Precious."
A poet and teacher, Sapphire created a literary sensation with the publication ofPush.Yet that novel had even greater impact more than a decade later as the source material for Precious,the success of which might well have spawned this longer, more ambitious follow-up. Readers might remember the birth of a son in that novel, the second baby for the precocious teenager who was repeatedly raped by her father. The boy mainly existed in the margins ofPush,andthis is his story, one of adolescent turbulence and shifting identities, from a narrator who has difficulty distinguishing his dream life from the shifting realities of his existence. And so will readers. Those hoping for more of Precious will be disappointed to learn that the novel opens with mention of her funeral, as the narrator quickly finds himself shunted from one of his mother's friends to a foster home to a Catholic orphanage, from which he is delivered to his great-grandmother (who delivers an impassioned soliloquy on her migration from Mississippi to New York) after the discovery of a bureaucratic foul-up. Various names accompany his abrupt changes of address, with "Abdul," "Crazy Horse" and "J.J." among the labels attached to a boy who at 13 could pass for an adult.His sexuality is equally ambiguous; though he doesn't think of himself as gay, he finds himself prey for older men and develops an appetite for smaller boys. He's also smart, articulate and a gifted dancer, as he moves from the patronage of a dance teacher (who takes sexual or at least emotional advantage) to an experimental company where both his sexuality and hold on reality are challenged. The author plainly embraces an aesthetic she ascribes to a dance piece—"It's controlled where it needs to be and wild and free where it can be"—though the novel might benefit from a little more of the former at the expense of the latter.
Powerfuland disturbing, though not always coherent.