Monday, 13 February 2012

Critique of Push.

I'm not sure what to take away from this book. By the end of the novel you have seen the beginnings of a transformation of a person who is barely human to a woman who is starting to understand her own self-worth and ambitions. In that respect I enjoyed the book.

I think what really bothers me is her HIV. It really casts an even grimmer pall over what is already a gut-wrenching life story. Precious isn't someone who will have the monetary means to buy medication or see a doctor regularly, and you know contracting HIV is her death sentence. Even she knows that her days are numbered, and the only thing unknowable is exactly when the virus will kill her. It would have been easier on me as a reader if Precious had HIV from the beginning of the novel, but to have her acquire it halfway through, when things are finally looking up for her, was brutal.

You can't help but root for Precious as she beings to understand that there is more to life than what she has experienced thus far, but I feel it was cruel of Sapphire to keep the reader from fully experiencing a true feeling of hope. Perhaps without the looming threat of a life cut short the story would have just been another sentimental tale of poor-girl-makes-good, but hey, what's wrong with a little inspiration every now and then? There is still a feeling of hope for Precious, but the tempering of that hope that I felt is what kept me from truly enjoying this novel.”

Above, is a review of the novel ‘Push’ by a user of, a website in which readers can post their personal opinions of novels, taking part in discussions and debates, and to rate the book they have read. I chose this particular review as I felt it was a truthful account and brought up an interesting point on the subject of the novel’s lack of optimism. The writer says ‘I think what really bothers me is her HIV. It really casts an even grimmer pall over what is already a gut-wrenching life story’. I agree with this point as the novel is a difficult read due to its graphic content. A story so dark and traumatic I would personally associate with a non fiction book, so it was difficult to read as a fiction piece. Not knowing much about the author it made me question how much could be traced back to her own experiences, or those of people she perhaps knew. When the character precious finds out she has HIV just when things are beginning to look up for her, as the writer of the review mentions, is brutal. I think in a way this reminds the reader that it is fiction, as it leads you to think could someone really have so much bad luck in reality?

The writer of the novel says that it is the ‘tempering of hope’ that keeps him from truly enjoying the novel. I think this is a valid point and shows how distressing the novel is. I think this works in both ways however, as although I felt it was disturbing I understood the powerful message that I though Sapphire was aiming to convey, and for this reason enjoyed the novel. The message I acquired was to never give up hope even when success seems unattainable and through this found the novel inspiring. Precious is hit with every possible obstacle throughout, but never lets it bring her down although the reality of the story is she has HIV and will eventually die. However, Precious does not dwell on this reality and instead focuses on the present.

Overall I thought the writer of the review had picked up on all the right points giving valid reasons behind his critique of the novel. He mentions that it would be an easier read to have acquired the news of Precious's HIV in the beginning of the novel rather than at the end, as it is traumatic to read. However I think, it is information like this that drives the plot, intriguing the reader. Especially as the reader is led to develop a 'bond' with the character through the novel's journal layout and personal grammar and spelling. It feels as if Precious has let the reader into her life, thus we experience everything as she does. For this reason, the reader is intrigued to read on in the novel, therefore making it an enjoyable read.

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