The Kid's Truth Must Be Told
By Brenda Kula on August 12, 2011
In reviewing The Kid, by Sapphire, I was at first struck by the graphic nature of her words. However, I believe her intent was to shock so as to depict the dire circumstances of her subject matter. The way in which someone like Abdul Jones regularly experiences life.
From the beginning, his world is overwhelming. His mother dies when he is nine years old. He is thrust into that place where suddenly orphaned children find themselves: the system. He is put into a Catholic orphanage for boys. He is assured that now he can stop worrying, that they will take over his care and education to the best of their abilities.
And from then on, he is sexually abused and threatened if he tells. Basically his childhood is erased in one fell swoop, much as his beloved mother is gone from his life.
What he learns is what he becomes. He equates "love" with taking advantage of other young boys sexually.
This book charts the inexplicable. The way in which violence and abuse begets violence and abuse. And that once a childhood is irretrievably shattered, there is no going back to retrieve any trace of it.
Abdul is exposed to the world of dance. And it becomes his life's goal. His way out. He feels most alive when he dances on a stage, when he is in the spotlight. He is in charge, finally.
But the past comes full circle. And Abdul is faced with the perpetration of his own abuse of younger boys. He doesn't understand why he does the things he does. It's just what he knows. And therefore he follows the dictates of these early teachings. His body has been trained and his mind brainwashed.
As the book nears an end, I come to understand why the author chose to write in such a bold and forceful way. Why she used so much profanity and horrific lurid circumstances. She wanted to "shake us up." Open our eyes. We don't often see that way of life, much less understand that it happens all the time.
We want to turn our eyes away in horror.
But we are forced to see the existence of this evil that is commonplace with children like Abdul. Therefore, the truth must be told, in this riveting narrative and dialogue, that of course we are not accustomed to.
It is a small price for having our eyes opened.
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