A Hard Core Read: The Kid by Sapphire

BlogHer Review
The Kid is the follow up novel to Push, written by Sapphire. The Kid picks up the story of Claireece Precious Jones. A girl who had suffered sexual abuse at the hands of her father and ended up giving birth to two of his children, Precious had her second child at the age of 16, that child being Abdul Jamal Louis Jones, who is now the main character of Sapphire’s second novel.

The novel starts out at the funeral of Abdul’s mother, Precious who had died from HIV complications when he was only nine years old. From this point on all normality is gone from Abdul’s life. He finds himself shuffled into foster care where he is brutally abused by a fellow foster child. After waking up in a hospital he then is left in the hands of Catholic priests in charge of St. Ailanthus Orphanage where he is sexually abused by the priests and becomes not only the abused, but the abuser.

This is a brutal and exhausting story to read. There is virtually no hope throughout the novel, none of the characters are heroes, all are flawed to the core in some way. The only sliver of hope is when Abdul discovers an African dance class. Dance is the only place he seems to find any peace or hope in his life.

This novel is graphic and in your face in it’s description of sexual abuse and the exploitation of children. It’s not for the weak of heart to read. It rarely gives the reader any break from the pain of the main character, or any other character for that matter. The Kid is written in the first person from Abdul’s perspective. It’s often confusing for the reader, living inside Abdul’s head, to know when he is dreaming or living in reality. I felt like Abdul didn’t know the difference himself. I found myself frustrated with Abdul, wanting to point him in the right direction, to tell him to speak up and defend himself instead of covering up the truth. I wanted to scream at him when became the victimizer himself.

I often found myself angry and frustrated throughout the story, but Sapphire’s writing is so smooth and beautiful to read that I made my way through it. I found myself thinking about all of those news stories I’ve heard in the past about children hurting other children and how I never understood how a child could do such a thing. The Kid is the back story for every child who ever became the abuser. I found myself understanding why, although I felt like it was against my will. I had a truth I didn’t want to face shoved in my face by reading The Kid. I could now see the pain behind it all. It was not a comfortable thing for me to experience. I would only recommend this book to the bravest of readers. It is well written, and you are guaranteed to feel the story, but if you’re not up for a depressing read, steer clear of The Kid.

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