What is a normal life? – Push By Sapphire (The Book Which Prompted The Movie Precious); A Reflection

As I have written often, I live in multiple worlds.  Today for the Urban Engagement Book Club, sponsored by Central Dallas Ministries, I presented  my synopsis of Push by Sapphire.

It was the toughest book to read – maybe the toughest I’ve ever read!  In this book-based gathering, we look at books that raise our consciousness and understanding on issues of poverty and social justice.  This book did the job.  (Yes, I know I’m quite a few years late on this – but it was the selection for the book club, and that’s what prompted the reading, and this post, now).

Here is one quote — a reflection by Precious:

What is a normal life?  A life where you not ‘shamed of your mother.  Where your friends come over after school and watch TV and do homework.  Where your mother is normal looking and don’t hit you over the head wif iron skillet.  I would wish for in my fantasy a second chance.  Since my first chance go to Mama and Daddy.

The “first chance to Mama and Daddy” refers to the ways that her Mama and Daddy stole her life, in so many ways.

In Roger Ebert’s review of the film adaptation of the book, Precious, he writes these paragraphs:

Precious has shut down. She avoids looking at people, she hardly ever speaks, she’s nearly illiterate. Inside her lives a great hurt, and also her child, conceived in a rape. She is fat. Her clothes are too tight. School is an ordeal of mocking cruelty. Home is worse. Her mother, defeated by life, takes it out on her daughter. After Precious is raped by her father, her mother, is angry not at the man, but at the child for “stealing” him.

There’s one element in the film that redeems this landscape of despair. That element is hope. Not the hope of Precious, but that of two women who want better for her. It’s not that Precious “shows promise.” I think it’s that these women, having in their jobs seen a great deal, can hardly imagine a girl more obviously in pain.

That is the starting point for “Precious,” a great American film that somehow finds an authentic way to move from these beginnings to an inspiring ending.

I don’t often say this so emphatically on this blog:  but read this book!  It will open your eyes, and your heart, and remind you of what you have, and what so many don’t have.


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