Title: Push (later changed to Precious)
Narrator: Bahni Turpin
Publication Year: 2009
Pages: 192 (audio length: 5 hours 8 minutes)
Source: Audiobook version purchased from Audible.com
From the cover:
For Precious Jones, 16 and pregnant with her father’s child, miraculous hope appears and the world begins to open up for her when a courageous, determined teacher bullies, cajoles, and inspires her to learn to read, to define her own feelings and set them down in a diary.
Like most other people, I noticed the hype surrounding this book shortly before the movie version, Precious, was released. It seemed interesting at the time, though over-publicized, so I waited. And a few months ago, I finally stopped waiting and read it.
Push absolutely sucked me in from the first sentence. The way that Precious just lays everything out there right from the beginning was enthralling and horrifying at the same time; I couldn’t even begin to fathom the anguish that the character had gone through before the point where the book picks up. The language in the book is raw and honest, which gives an even better indication of the narrator’s mindset than anything else could. There’s something about the syntax and the emotion behind the words that no description could ever capture.
There are definitely points in the book where it’s hard to keep going, but this is more because of the events happening – and even some of the statements that Precious makes – than because of the writing itself. For example, there are times when Precious describes the way that her mother treats her (including sexual abuse), and then turns around a few pages later and talks about how she can’t leave her mother alone or how it’s not her mother’s fault. It’s just mind-boggling, but at the same time, so realistic that it made me want to put down the book and catch my breath.
As for the audiobook rendering: personally, I rather enjoyed Turpin’s interpretation of Precious. I think that I actually might not have been able to get into the book had I been reading it on paper, in large part because I have a hard time reading books that are written in dialects (or, in this case, the non-standard English of Precious’ thoughts and speech). I’ve noticed that there’s another audiobook version kicking around, an abridged version narrated by the author; I listened just to the audio sample available online, and it sounds just as fantastic as the Turpin version. I don’t particularly like reading abridged versions of books, though, so I’m glad I listened to this one instead.
Push is definitely not an easy read, largely due to the subject matter, but it’s definitely a book that will stick with you for a long time. I know it did with me.