Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sapphire's Push: Merciless Honesty (book review)

I first became aware of the buzz about Sapphire's debut novel Push in 1995 or 1996. The novel gained attention for its distressing storyline but possibly more because the novelist received a $500,000 advance, a sum unheard of in those days for a first novel. Well, unheard of except that another writer that year had received even more, Jacquelyn Mitchard.

The two women appeared on a morning news show. I think it was Good Morning America, Sapphire for Push and Mitchard for The Deep End of the Ocean, a novel also notable as the first pick for Oprah's newly-established book club. Mitchard's book terrified suburban mothers, pricking their worst fears, the disappearance of a young child. "How could she even write such horror," people asked. That was more than a decade before incidents like that of the non-missing Balloon Boy glued some of us to our television sets.

And Push was another ghetto tale, but one about a girl, the victim of unspeakably heinous child abuse. Beatings, cruel words, incest.

So, both new novelists had hit the jackpot and both stories involved children in peril, but after that commonality, these stories diverged. Just three years later, ... Please continue reading full post at

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