From PUSH to Precious

I just can't wait for the theatrical release of "Precious" by director Lee Daniels. I'm often leery of books that make it to the big screen because often times there are some elements of the story that are left out. Despite this, I've read some press about the movie which has been quite favorable. I like many will be in line at the local movie theatre on November 6th to see "Precious."

The movie "Precious" is based on the 1997 novel "PUSH" by Sapphire and focuses on the vicious cycle of incest and abuse. "PUSH" is about a Harlem, NY illiterate teen named Clareece "Precious" Jones who has low self-worth/esteem in herself. Why??? Her homelife is dysfunctional. She has been impregnated by her father twice and her abusive relationship with her mother affects Precious in her daily struggle to just survive. Precious finally experiences a 'breakthrough' when she is sent to an alternative high school and meets her teacher, Ms Rain who helps her raise her reading level to a 7th grade level and helps her discover how beautiful she is.

Author Sapphire wrote this book as a result of her own sexual abuse she suffered and her experience with working with troubled teens. "PUSH" is a book that at sometimes was very hard for me to read because it taps into the emotion of the reader. You cheer when Precious makes strives towards building her self-esteem and you just want to shake her poor excuse of a mother.
PUSH is a book that is intended for adults but will teens read this book? Of course, given the projected commercial promotion of the movie. Recently, I asked the manager of a Borders Book Store on the far south side of the city of Chicago if the sales for 'PUSH' had increased over the last month. She said that they had and they cannot keep the books on the shelves. I'd be really curious to see what percentage of sales are from teens...hmm.

PUSH is the first book written and published by poet, Sapphire. Like many authors that experience rejection from the major book publishing companies, Sapphire self-published "PUSH" until picked up by DoubleDay. Recently, CBS Evening News Anchorwoman, Katie Couric conducted a really nice interview of the author, Sapphire. The interview is approximately :45minutes in lenght but well worth the view.



  1. I read PUSH back in 2001 and I think it's just as telling as The Color Purple. I hope some of the high schools schedule a field trip for the students so that they can see this movie.

  2. I can't imagine taking a high school class to see this movie. From what I remember of the book, it is a very intense and graphic story.

    I am glad you posted the Couric interview. I've been wondering what Sapphire is doing now.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. PUSH is classified as adult reading level however this is a book that could be integrated into a high school collection like other adult books.
    Is it appropriate? I would review your selection policy and determine if this book meets the needs of your students and supports the school curriculum.
    Finally, keep in mind the universal theme of incest, child abuse and teen pregnancy are referenced in this book. The difference with PUSH is that the story is told from the perspective of a teen living in the inner city of New York.
    Check out this testimonial from a GED teacher in Texas. Her students were a little older than the average high schooler, but her comments about the use of the book are interesting.

    Hope this helps!