PUSH is a punishing, brutal picture of a person who is a victim of the American Dream. That person is Precious, a sixteen-year-old girl who at the book’s opening is pregnant with her father’s child. For the second time. Rather inexplicably because of this, Precious is expelled from her school (during which we discover that she is also illiterate) and sent to an alternative school. Here she meets Blue Rain, a teacher who sees past Precious’ rough demeanor and begins to mentor her.
The result is a journey out of the night that has been Precious’ life towards a day of possibilities for her. She begins to read and to evaluate herself and her life. She learns to see that she is damaged, that the life she is living is not normal or acceptable. She learns to protect herself from her parents.
And she learns to remember her past truthfully, to see her Self as fully human.
Precious sweeps us along on her journey, touching on the disembodiment our culture creates. Some of the most painful moments occur when Precious envisions her ideal Self – skinny, pretty and white, and when she escapes her body as her father rapes her, imaging herself far off and away, detached from the prison of her body.
The miracle of the book is the path we discover along with Precious, a path that surprisingly leads towards hope. She seems like such a lost cause, a victim of a broken, irredeemable system that destroys innocence, that crushes both the victim and the victimizer without respect for any persons. But through Blue Rain and the community of girls at the alternative school, the system is overcome and Precious steps onto the path toward redemption and healing.
PUCH is cruel and unrelenting; for ever two steps Precious takes forward she is shoved back. And the end is no fairy tale (:: ahem :: Blindside). But for those of us who live in a real broken world, hers is the story we need.