Saturday, 11 February 2012

Sapphire's Push: Merciless Honesty,0

This critique is written by a lady called Nordette Adams a Louisiana based freelance journalist, published fiction writer and poet. She is also a contributing editor and African- American books examiner for

I was initially drawn to this critique of Push because of the title of the blog "Sapphire's Push: Merciless Honesty," the emotive language used here by the author automatically grabs people's attention and also suggests that it is going to be a positive and frank view of the book.

At the beginning of the critique Adams tells her readers how she heard about the novel, which coincidentally was through Oprah Winfrey who put forward the money to make Push into a film alongside Tyler Perry. She began to research the novel and the more she found out about it the less she wanted to read it, I found this particularly interesting as I read this book without any prior knowledge to what it was about. I feel that this allowed me to buy into the narrative and empathise with the characters more so than if I had preconceptions about the book like Adams did.

An aspect of this critique that I found interesting is, although Adams was disinclined to read it, she is in some ways supportive of Sapphire's bravery to put this book out there to the public. She uses phrases such as "stripped down" and "brute honesty" that although at a first glance are seemingly negative are actually praising the book and Sapphire for writing a book that she knew would cause controversy. In addition to this Adams includes a quote from an interview with Sapphire regarding her feelings towards this "controversial" novel, "if Sapphire were silent many of us would remain comfortably ignorant about abuse, violence and the ramifications of both." (Euroweb, 2002) Here I think it is interesting to note that Sapphire talks about herself in the third person as if Sapphire is a separate person to Romona Lofton which has distinct parallels to the character of Precious herself. Adams goes on to say "Sapphire sugar coats nothing, protects no institution, coddles no belief system," in this quote I believe Adams is trying to highlight to the readers of her blog that this novel is not your average novel, it does not end in happy ever after as you want it to, it is gritty and harrowing and you should not expect anything less.

One aspect of the book that Adams focuses on largely is the character of Precious. As the book is based around her and because she is such a dominant feature of the book. Again she praises Sapphire's writing skills in the way she presents Precious to us "makes Precious Jones visible to us in simple language charged with brute strength." For me, the use of simple language is what makes this book. Although at times I did find it difficult to read, it allows the reader to grow with Precious and see how she does improve and the positivity that is created just by Precious moving up in the world, in some ways takes the sting out of the harsh reality of the book. Also, by choosing to have Precious' voice as the narrative voice really does give the reader an incite into the world of Precious Jones and allows Sapphire to effectively convey her story to the audience. Adams reflects upon this idea also, "a voice that also conjures up Precious' gritty, unforgiving world" again the use of negative language shows that Adams is trying to reconstruct the negativity and crudity of Push itself.

Overall, I agree with Adams' critique. She looks at both Sapphire's bravery to write such a controversial novel and the character of Precious Jones in a lot of detail. Although I feel she does not really concentrate on the book as a whole, just certain aspects of it. On the other hand I do feel she is right to put a particular focus on the author and main character as they are such domineering aspects of the novel and make it what it is. I found the book to be an eye opener to a world that I never really knew existed whereas I feel Adams' felt it was more her "duty" to read this book and wanted to pretend that what she was reading in this book was not happening in reality. However there is one quote that I strongly agree with and that stood out to me as soon as I read this critique,

"a novel that manages to be disturbing, affecting and manipulative all at the same time."

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