The Kid Needs a Break
When Precious premiered, I read a lot of reviews or skimmed them. I knew Push was on our shelf but wasn't completely sure I had read it. I knew the subject matter would be tough. I still thought I had read so much about Precious and Push (both by Saphhire), that I wouldn't be surprised by the issues in either Push or The Kid.
I started by reading Push. I don't believe I had actually read it cover to cover but had picked it up and put it down. I read it cover to cover -- found it painful and horrid but by the end there was a note of redemption.
The Kid started the morning of Precious' funeral with her nine year old son. The years seem to have treated Precious well -- even if she'd been sick. Her son, always the star of her life, loved, smart, on his way to a bright future. Then his mother died. Before you could blink, the book sent you headlong back into a dark world, this time the dark world of children orphaned by AIDS, sent overnight to foster care, then to a Catholic Home for Orphan Boys, then ooops -- he has a grandmother, well a great-grandmother (though no one appropriately explained that to the boy in their hurry to "pass the kid").
Each stop along his journey is horrific, yet you keep rooting for the kid, even when you want to hold him accountable. He isn't a good boy, but on the other hand he is as much of a victim as his victims. You want him cut a break, you want him to get the help he needs, you know it isn't there and it is frustrating.
If you have any sort of issues with foster care, with Catholic priests, with prostitution, violence, incest, suicide, gay men, psychiatric care, there will be a trigger in this book for you. (It reminds me of a Jodi Picoult novel in that way -- no real life horror will be left out of the book.) It's a tough read and a beautifully told story but in the end that is where the beauty begins and ends with this book.
I ended up searching the library cart for fluff to help me get back on track after reading Push and The Kid back to back. I needed a break. I wish the kid had gotten one as well. Now adding helping these boys in a solid, honest way to my list of things I must do in this world. Perhaps that really is the beauty in this book, it reminds those of us so far from that world, that these kids exist, right here in our neighborhoods, our city and our country. It reminds us that we CAN and SHOULD help them overcome their past -- both the past where they had no control and the past where they did but made poor choices because of what had happened in their past.