Sapphire's The Kid Is Painful to Read, In a Good Way?
Not all novels are pleasant to read. In fact, some might argue that the greatest art results from suffering. In Sapphire's first novel, Push, we met Precious, an obese teenage girl who was abused by her father (and mother) and gives birth to a baby before dying of AIDS. It's a horrible story, but Precious is a gentle, sweet girl, and the story leaves leaves us feeling like there is some good in the world. Precious's teachers and social workers are dedicated to helping Precious and other kids who are born into unfortunate circumstances.
I began reading The Kid wanting to root for Precious's son to succeed, but his character is not sympathetic enough. In the beginning, I felt incredible pity for him as he witnesses his mother's death and experiences abuse in foster care and at the hands of priests in an orphanage. While there are glimmers of hope, the story somehow manages to get worse as Abdul gets older and turns violent and abusive himself.
I was on Abdul's side for a while, but as the book wore on, I found it impossible to sympathize with a rapist. He seems to show no remorse for his actions, and it becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish between reality and dream sequences in Sapphire's prose. While Sapphire's writing takes us deep into the psyche of a traumatized child and, later, a psychotic adult, I didn't feel like it was a journey I wanted to take. Sadly, this scenario happens all too often as the victim of abuse grows up to perpetuate violence on others.
The book is fast-paced and the writing seems authentic and caused me to have visceral reactions. The blood rushed to my head during certain scenes, and it was almost physically painful to read.
If you choose to read The Kid, be forewarned. This is a gruesome journey through several generations of abuse.