The Kid's Dark Transformation

BlogHer Review

I had heard many positive reviews forPush by Sapphire which became an Oscar winning film adaptation entitled Precious.  Although I had yet to read the book or watch the film, I knew it was critically acclaimed and was eager to read its successor, The Kid.

The story of The Kid begins at Precious’ funeral. Having died from AIDS, she leaves her sheltered son Abdul orphaned at the age of 9.  Without relations, Abdul becomes a ward of the system, at first placed in foster care and later transferred to the custody of an all-boys Catholic school run by deceitful brothers.  In his youth, he begins to endure a series of abusive episodes from his caretakers, peers and guardians.  Eventually, due to an oversight in the system, he is cast off to the supervision of his impoverished great-grandmother, Toosie.  In recounting her family’s past, she reveals a generational history of hardship and struggle from Mississippi to New York City.  Forced to grow up prematurely in the rough streets of Harlem, Abdul creates an alternate identity to deny his painful past and mask his sexual confusion.  Changed by the misery of his situation, he hustles to survive yet seeks refuge in dance.

Sapphire creates a misunderstood hero who is both victim and perpetrator.  The story raises issues about breaking out of the cycles of violence and poverty.  I found the book challenging to read due to its explicit sexual content and candid portrayal of dysfunction and harrowing accounts of abuse.  With a narrative that mounts conflict and tension as the book progresses, I found the storytelling was uneven and the protagonist difficult to follow.  With characters that lacked empathy, the story was a bleak portrayal of innocence lost and hope destroyed. Ultimately, The Kid is an emotionally charged novel, that feels unfinished but makes one ponder whether there is redemption for souls with scars too deep to heal.

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