For the millions of readers who fell in love with the character Precious in Sapphire’s 1996 book “Push,” and then the Academy-Award winning film adaptation “Precious: Based on the novel Push by Sapphire,” the author warns her follow-up novel, “The Kid,” is not going to be “your favorite bedtime story with a predictable ending. It’s complex and probing.”
Indeed. Through 376 sometimes heart-wrenching pages, “The Kid” follows Precious’ son Abdul through the death of his mother, then through a myriad of abuse from his foster home to the hands of demented priests of a Catholic boys’ home, then to his great-grandmother’s roach-filled apartment until he finally finds solace in dance. But even that escape isn’t total — in “The Kid,” Abdul is a seriously flawed character, one who heaps abuse on others the way it was done to him.
“Precious isn’t destroyed by her demons, she’s destroyed by poor medical care and indifference,” says Sapphire on the difference between her characters. “Abdul is not destroyed, he is strong enough to fight back. Precious was a total victim. With ‘The Kid,’ we have to look at a person who is flawed himself.”
And despite its bleak tone, Sapphire says “The Kid” isn’t a dark novel — it’s just a tougher one. “It’s just a much harder novel,” she claims. “I feel like a lot of people thought she’d get the right medication and live. But because I’m a writer who adheres to social realism, you know women like Precious don’t have that outcome. So I took the heaviest parts of what is happening with families who are devastated by AIDS and poverty and put it on the shoulders of Abdul.”