The Kid Left Me Stunned and Speechless
Sapphire, author of Push invites readers back into the world of abuse, poverty, and stolen childhood in her newest novel The Kid. We meet Abdul Jones, the son of Precious on the day of his mother's funeral, and from there we follow Abdul through childhood and into adulthood.
Sapphire is a master at getting inside the heads of the characters and we hear Abdul's story from his own first person narrative. We hear and meet Abdul as he is. Abdul desperately wants to be different, he wants to be loved, he wants to be successful, and he clings to the little parenting and love he had from his mom those first nine years of life. Ultimately it is not enough to undo the damage that has been done. Broken from his experiences of physical and sexual abuse in foster care and later in a Catholic boys school. He cannot seem to overcome the experiences of abuse, which ultimately shape and form his reality.
The writing is hectic and chaotic bouncing around in the form of speech, dreams, dialogue, and personal thoughts and reflections. While the narration makes the book difficult to follow it does an amazing job of illustrating the kind of chaos and dysfunction Abdul exists in, by forcing the reader into the midst of that dysfunction.
Sapphire's novel The Kid, is haunting, but it's an important story that needs to be told. One of the most powerful aspects of this novel is it illustrates the brokenness of our society and the way cyclical abuse can plague family systems for generations. Abdul's story isn't just his alone, but it's a generational story. The abuse, poverty, and dysfunction begins with his great-grandma years ago in Mississippi, and Push in combination with The Kid allows us to see the perpetuation of that dysfunction four generations later as it manifests in Precious and then Abdul in New York.
Abdul, as a nine year old boy is lost in the system, subjected to abuse at the hands of those who are suppose to protect him, and eventually returned to the same family of abusers we met in Push. Even more tragic is that Abdul then because an abuser himself, and the cycle continues once more.
This novel is graphic but powerful. It's a story that's uncomfortable to read and for that reason this story needs to be read and shared. While Abdul is a fictional character, his life is the reality for so many living in our world, and Sapphire bravely gives a name and a voice to this reality through Abdul. To fully understand and appreciate what Sapphire is addressing, The Kid is better understood with the background information gained in Push. Systemic and cyclical oppression, abuse, and poverty are a reality and are tied in with race and socioeconomic factors that started long before our present day. In order to address those concerns today, we must first be willing to look to our history in the United States and be willing to confront those harsh realities. Sapphire forces us to go there, to encounter the horror, and be left stunned and speechless.