I Will Never Forget the Kid
Never in my life have I had a book that has haunted me like Saphhire's Push, her first book, and had seen the film Precious, so I was anxious to dive into this book. I knew, from Precious, that the book may be disturbing, but honestly I was not prepared for the first half of the book. It was intense, raw and I had to walk away at one point. It haunted me, I had nightmares. I would sit up and think about Abdul, just 9 years old, losing his mother to AIDS and how the system failed him.
Now, after seeing Precious, I was sad that she died within the first page of The Kid. She had so much promise, she was going to rise above and live a better life than the one that was given to her. However, it's important to understand that it had to be done to explain Abdul and his life. They had to be separated.
In the first half of the book we follow Abdul through his struggle with accepting his mother's death, something he never really accepts, and his subsequent abandonment. He is left in foster care and has no idea what to expect. He never had a chance once his mother died. After winding up in the hospital he is then transferred to a Catholic orphanage and his name is changed to J.J.
J.J's time in the Catholic orphanage left me nauseous at times. He is just a child and he is victimized by men of the cloth. Men who should be nurturing him and educating him, instead they are molesting him and breaking him down. Essentially they create a monster. J.J. eventually graduates from victim to perpetrator and begins to go after other boys in the orphanage. What is so disturbing is he does not feel what he is doing is wrong. He sees himself as a king. This entire situation just shows how someone can be a product of their environment.
The only good thing to come out of his time in the orphanage is he discovers his love of and passion for dance. More on that in a bit though. J.J/Abdul's time in the orphanage comes to an end when it is discovered he is molesting the younger boys. It is also discovered that during this time he has a living relative, something that was ignored. J.J is moved again to his great-grandmother's apartment. He never really wants to believe this woman, Toosie, is his great-grandmother.
In another disturbing section of the book, Toosie, describes her upbringing and the roots of the family. It also briefly touches on Mary and Precious. Toosie's life is described so matter-of-factly, as if this is how everyone grows up. The story is interwoven with Abdul's disturbing and often sexual thoughts.
The last half of the book covers Abdul's true love, dance. The saying that the most disturbed people become the best artists could not ring more true here. Abdul is still young when he begins dancing, he's actually still at the orphanage at this point, but his talent is there. Unfortunately he is taken advantage of, again, by an instructor and cannot escape him until he is 17. His dancing though is truly the only place where he is himself, where he belongs.
Now, I'm not going to lie, the last of the 4 sections is a pure blur to me. It left me so confused and yet at the same time like that was how it was supposed to end. There was no other way for this book to end except for the way it did.
Overall, I have to say this is not a book for everyone. It is disturbing, raw, extremely sexual and has very strong language throughout. I was not exaggerating when I said it gave me nightmares. I think I put myself too far into the book personally and thought about Abdul as my child. I wanted to protect him, take him away from this awful life, show him not all people come after you to take advantage of you. The idea that this is a reality for so many children out there is sickening. It truly is. But, like I said before, it is a reality that I will never forget.