The Kid: Raw, Gritty, Thought-Provoking Book Club Choice
Raw. Powerful. Gritty. Moving. And because it is so thought-provoking, a great book club choice.
We know Abdul Jones from Sapphire's first novel, Push, and from the film, Precious. But in The Kid, we learn more about Abdul and it’s not a pretty picture. Yet, I was drawn in by Sapphire’s fearless use of language -- direct and at the same time, poetic -- and also by how she addresses timely, important societal issues. Look at any newspaper today and you’ll see kids that resemble Abdul in situations equally stark.
This is not a book for the faint of heart. Sapphire’s explicit, unblinking rendering of Abdul, a vulnerable, displaced child, and his attempts to make his own way in the world can be difficult to read. Many of us don’t like to look at the seedy side of institutions that are meant to serve children without other options, perhaps because once we see the reality, we want a solution. The hard truth is that solutions are hard to come by. So it’s easier to avert our eyes.
And yet, it’s an important book, one that made me think and that stuck with me past the last page.
The Kid’s stark depiction of sexual molestation and its uncomfortable truths about child development and even how predators are formed strikes at the heart of every parent’s fear. We’d like to think that a mother’s love and her hopes live on in her children, but we see Abdul’s struggles to make a life for himself, despite the foundation of love and support his mother provided.
Yet the fabric of this story is more nuanced than its unnerving gaze at reality and what some will consider foul language. The beat of Sapphire’s language, so poetically disturbing, makes it hard to put the book down even as the reader cringes at what’s going on.
Although it will make many readers squirm in their seats, The Kid would be an interesting book club choice, simply because it raises so many questions that bear discussion. Is there a way to ensure displaced children don’t face the same fate as Abdul? What parallels might exist between The Kid and stories in the news? Who might have intervened in Abdul’s case and how? Where did the system go wrong?
It would be a book club meeting members will never forget.