Push and Precious
Posted by: Gary Niebuhr
This month’s staff reader’s advisory training at my library was called Novels into Film. I was the discussion leader so it allowed me to select the book Push by Sapphire and the film Precious.
It also allowed our staff to train on a genre we called Urban Fiction or Street Lit. Our discussion included the fact that this genre is known for profanity, sex and violence and we took the time to talk about the value of the literature based on the challenges it might bring to a library collection.
These three aspects of street lit are definitely a part of Push. It is a powerful presentation that with almost relentless fury attacks the reader with its language. The author, in telling the tale of a young woman trying to rise above the entrapment of illiteracy, skillfully takes the narrative from the formative words of someone struggling with transferring oral knowledge to written and advances it, with hope, to a more elevated and educated level.
This does not temper the power of the plot which through the diary format reveals a series of horrific incidences that try to harm this young girl. The power of the story comes from her ability to see hope and what most people would term a hopeless situation.
Novels into Film discussions are always fun. Contrasting and comparing the book to the video often leads to issue dealing with major changes. While there are some, in the main, Push translated well to the screen and the movie Precious took care to present the compelling story as it should be. The actors deliver performances that mirror the characters in the book with amazing and sometime chilling results.
In an environment where everything appears to be challenged, a library will need to proceed fearlessly to organize a book discussion on this title (and the film as well). What is the payoff? A discussion that will put you in the shoes of a person whose earnest attempts to gain some measure of happiness against all odds acts as an inspiration to all.