A Disturbing and Confusing Picture of One Kid's Life

BlogHer Review

Going into The Kid by Sapphire, I knew the novel was more than likely going to deal with subject matter that would be difficult for anyone, especially a mother, to have to read. It’s for that very reason I waited to see Precious until it came on Netflix. I figured it was much better to have an emotional breakdown in the privacy of my own home than in a crowded movie theater. However, even knowing what was probably coming in no way prepared me for the content of The Kid, and not just the graphic details of the sexual abuse, but the novel in general.

I can honestly say The Kid was one of the most challenging novels I’ve ever read and that’s saying a lot because not only do I have a minor in English, I’m a certified English teacher and am currently pursing my Master’s Degree in Secondary Language Arts and Reading. I am that annoying person that gets theme and symbolism and encourages people to dig deeper into a book to find meaning. This book? Frustrated me to the point I actually threw it down a few times. I didn’t even finish it until the day our book reviews needed to be submitted because I kept having to re-read parts to figure out what really happened and what Abdul dreamed and/or made up. I’m still not sure about some of what I read.

I also really wanted to feel some sort of compassion for Abdul. I mean, the child lost his mother at age nine, and was put in the foster system and then an orphanage where he was the victim of both sexual and physical abuse. By age 13, he had experienced just about the worst things anyone, especially a child, should ever endure. But, from the moment he first had what seemed to me to be a forced sexual encounter with a fellow resident, Jaime, at the Catholic orphanage and his subsequent attitude regarding his actions, I couldn’t conjure anything more than disgust with Abdul. Yes, the abuse at the hands of the priests was horrific and it made my stomach turn, but his violent sexual fantasies and acts were almost impossible to get past. If you are easily offended, you should know in advance, Sapphire goes into these sexual encounters and fantasies with very graphic detail. Disturbing detail in some instances.

I can honestly say The Kid is not recommended reading for everyone and I don’t think simply seeing Precious is enough to prepare you to delve into this novel. I really think it’s imperative to read Push in order to become familiar with Sapphire’s writing style and to prepare yourself for some of the content of the follow-up. If I wasn’t already so troubled by what I’ve read thus far, I would consider reading Push myself and then re-reading The Kid to see if I had a different opinion of the novel. But, this book was so upsetting and frustrating, I don’t think I can put myself through it again.

I think anyone considering reading The Kid should proceed with caution.

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