Between the Covers: Sapphire's The Kid
By sayitrahshay on August 02, 2011
I can't lie; reading The Kid felt more like a chore than a privilege. Eagerly I had anticipated learning more about the offspring of Precious Jones and while I was not naive enough to think that everything would end with a neatly wrapped bow, I had hoped that the life of Abdul would have some of the hope and inspiration that made his mother's story complete. Instead the story of Abdul is mired in pages of rambling text, a voice which doesn't clarify if what he's sharing is from his dreams or something he experiences when he is awake.
We meet nine year old Abdul Jones as he is being prepared for his mother's funeral. The next day, he is introduced into the foster system and from there experiences one horror after another from a brutal foster home where he is brutalized and beaten, to a Catholic orphanage where he is both predator and prey. He is reunited with his family only to run off and attempt to embrace the joy he experiences as he discovers dance.
Abdul's voice is sometimes wise; when he speaks about his mother he is clear although he slips into a dreamlike state that left me feeling sad and inpatient. When he is sent to foster care his voice seems to reflect his life: scattered and broken. Often I couldn't tell if his words were things he was actually experiencing, a dream or something that he actually hoping would happen.
Sapphire's raw description of the abuse he suffered was physically uncomfortable at times but the discomfort made me want to learn more about a child welfare system that seems to only want to farm kids in and out of the system to people unqualified and uncaring. The description of the abuses suffered caused me to put the book down and walk away several times. It was intense but I've been encouraged to read and do more to learn about the foster care system.
I think may need to re-read this book. While I read the book I found myself skimming past sections of Abdul's dreamlike fugues and feel that there may have been some insights that I missed. I know the unfair comparisons to Sapphire's first novel both encouraged me to finish yet angered me as I could not understand where and what Abdul was supposed to do with his life. The book seems to be open for a third installment. I do wish for one so that I can see some redemption and explanation of what Abdul is going to do next.
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