Sapphire is the author of two collections of poetry and the bestselling novel Push. The film adaption of her novel, Precious (2009), received the Academy Award for Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress, in addition to the Grand Jury Prize and Audience awards in the U.S. Dramatic Competition at Sundance. In 2009 she was a recipient of a United States Artist Fellowship. She lives in New York City.
Fifteen years and an Oscar-nominated movie adaptation have passed by since Push, and, with Precious long dead, Sapphire unfurls the story of her son, Jamal Abdul Louis Jones. Orphan Jamal winds up at a foster home where he's mocked and beaten to the point of having to be hospitalized. Fast forward, and Abdul, going by the name J.J., is at the St. Ailanthus School for boys, where he's sexually abused by priests and in turn sexually abuses a couple of boys at the school. When J.J. is thrown out of the school, he struggles to handle his own conflicting desires and the rigors of getting by in a tough world by himself, often with very little comprehension of consequences. J.J. is a great creation, if a sometimes frustrating one: Sapphire excels at getting readers into the head of a frightened, enraged, and frustrated wild child, but that isn't always the best vantage point from which to watch this heartbreaking story unfold. This is a sobering and unflinching study of the legacy of abuse, and while the narration can leave readers more puzzled than piqued, it's a harrowing story. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Difficult to read because of the subject matter and the experimental stream-of-consciousness narrative in which conversations, dreams, memories, and imagined scenes flow chaotically together, this sequel to Push comes 15 years after the best-selling novel that was the basis for the movie Precious. Now Precious's son is the one suffering a life of abuse. Forced into foster care at age nine when his mother dies, he can't even keep his name as he moves from one nightmarish situation to the next. The only constants throughout are (graphically described) acts of sexual and physical abuse by adults, leading him to abuse smaller boys. Stumbling into an African dance class one day, he discovers a talent for dancing, but it is unclear whether he's too psychologically damaged to be rescued by art. VERDICT Readers will need to have read the first book or seen the movie to understand many of the references here. While not as cohesive or as well written as Push, this title will still attract sizable demand from the author's fans and readers looking for gritty, urban fiction that tackles such issues as race, class, and sexual abuse.-Laurie A. Cavanaugh, Wareham Free Lib., MA (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Painstakingly beautiful * Scotland on Sunday * Sapphire is not your average writer. Brave, bold and uncompromising . . . The novel keeps you on tenterhooks -- Bernardine Evaristo * Observer * Harrowing . . . Masterfully narrated . . . Powerful * Diva * Stunning . . . Exhilarating * Independent * Prepare to be harrowed; I was sobbing by the end of the first chapter . . . [Sapphire] writes with a burning anger that gives this novel an explosive power * The Times * A consummate work of art, style and brains, shining at times with the possibility for hope and joy . . . More accomplished than [Push] and a thousand times more frightening * List *