PUSH Giveaway

It has been a long time since I’ve read a book that really spoke to me, inspired me and that I could really get behind and believe in.  Yeah, this book probably doesn’t need my help boosting it, but I HAVE TO SHARE IT.  And it’s been a long while since I had a giveaway here, and I’m dying to do another one.  So, here we go!

I want more people to read this book, so I’m giving away a copy of Push by Sapphire.

Push by Sapphire Giveaway

If I get over 20 entries, I’ll give away a second copy.  Over 50, and I’ll give away 3 copies, and a grand prize winner will also get a $10 gift certificate for Amazon.com.

Rules.. gotta have ‘em.

  1. Leave a comment on this post telling me what book has inspired you for your official entry.
  2. Go and read my review of Push and leave a comment for an additional entry.
  3. Tweet about the giveaway using @thekoolaidmom for another entry.
  4. Blog about it for another entry.
  5. Do all four of these and get an extra entry, for a total of 5 chances to win.

The contest is open internationally, and ends at 11:59pm on February 17th.

PUSH by Sapphire

Push by SapphireTitle:  Push

Author:  Sapphire

Paperback:  192 pages

Published:  1996

Acquired:  bought new from Walmart

Challenges: New Author Challenge 2010, We Didn’t Start the Fire 2010 (AIDS), POC Reading Challenge

I don’t have nothing to write today – maybe never.  Hammer in my heart now, beating me, I feel like my blood a giant river swell up inside me and I’m drwoning.  My head all dark inside.  Feel like giant river I never cross in front me now.  Ms Rain say, You not writing Precious.  I say I drownin’ in river.  She don’t look me like I’m crazy but say, If you just sit there the river gonna rise up drown you!  Writing could be the boat carry you to the other side.  One time in your journal you told me you had never really told your story.  I think telling your story git you over that river Precious.

I still don’t move.  She say, “Write.”  I tell her, “I am tired.  Fuck you!”  I scream, “You don’t know nuffin’ what I been through!”  I scream at Ms Rain.  I never do that before.  Class look shock.  I feel embarrass, stupid; sit down, I’m made a fool of myself on top of everthing else.  “Open your notebook Precious.”  “I’m tired,” I says.  She says, “I know you are but you can’t stop now Preciuos, you gotta push.”  And I do.

-Push by Sapphire, pages 96-97

wow.  I mean really, WOW.

Push by Sapphire is a book of truth.  It is raw, heart-breaking, and hard.  It is inspiring, hope-filled, naked and honest.  It is not the kind of book that will appeal to everyone, not that happy beach book many want, it is stark and dark and real and beautiful.  It could’ve been exploitative, could’ve been depressing and hopeless, could’ve so easily become an anti-white, anti-men rant, but Sapphire managed to weave the story together, as told by the main character, Precious Jones, into an emotional tale of how education can give hope for a chance at freedom and a better life.

I knew a bit about the story from the movie based on the book, Precious.  I haven’t yet seen the movie (are you kidding?  There’s no way the theater owner of our little 2-screener would’ve had THAT movie in HIS place!  Heck, he wouldn’t bring in a Tyler Perry movie, and they’re funny with a little “let’s get real” on the side), so I have to way until it comes out on DVD next month (already in my Netflix queue), but I have seen the trailers and watched the interviews and heard the awards buzz about it.  From the few scenes I’ve seen, and after reading the book, the movie should win every award it could qualify for, and if it doesn’t, I’ll be irate.  I also knew about this book from seeing it being checked out… always out and never in… at the library, and from reading Kathy at Bermudaonion’s review back in December.

So when I wandered (drifted mindlessly, to be more accurate) to the book section at Walmart the day before yesterday and saw it on the shelf, it was in my cart before Maggie could say, “No more books, MOM!”  Now, my policy for buying new books at full price is that it HAS to be a book I will read immediately.  Not next month or next year, but this week or sooner.  I was already several pages into Push before I left the store, and finished a little more than 24 hours after buying it.  Push is the kind of book that, as soon as you put it down, you pick it back up and start reading again, forgetting why you’d put it down in the first place.  The kind of book you forget to eat because it’s so engrossing.  I could barely go to the bathroom, and would worry and wonder what was going on with Precious while I was gone from her.  It will, without a doubt, be one of my top 10 books of 2010, and on my favorites list forever.

Okay, so enough gushing….  Let’s deal with the book itself.

One of the first things I got out of Push, was the realization of what it was, exactly, that I’d hated about The Blue Notebook by James A. Levine.  Both Precious and Batuk narrate their respective stories through writing in a journal.  Both books deal with the loss of innocence, sexual abuse, the sacrifice of the child by a parent, animosity between mother and daughter, and that education is the only hope and chance of escape.  But where they differ greatly is in the voice of the narrator.  Precious is pissed.  She’s upset, emotional, and expresses her sense of injustice at the terrible hand life has dealt her.  WHY? is her question over and over.  And understandably so; you expect these feelings.  Batuk, on the other hand, falls flat.  She’s accepting of her situation, barely registers emotion, occassionally expresses that she misses her father (the same man who sold her) and waxes nostalgic for the past.  Aarti of B O O K L U S T tweeted that she felt Batuk was a strong character, but I never saw any strength in her.  I do, however, agree that the overall voice of The Blue Notebook was despair and hoplessness, as Batuk knew she could never escape the situation.

Another thing I can tell you, with personal authority, is that the feelings and experiences Precious expresses from the standpoint of being an incest survivor is very real and very true.  There are things that Precious says about the sex with her father that are difficult for a child to wrap their own head around, let alone have the courage to say outloud, even in a journal.  Things like the shame you feel at feeling physical pleasure during this situation that you know in every fiber of your being is WRONG.  It’s one of the things that totally screws up the person’s ability to relate sexually for the rest of their life.  Also, Precious’s reference to genitals, hers as well as others, reflects how deeply incest survivors view their own objectification as a sex object.  “I am of no value nor worthy of love except through sex.”  is the personal worth statement of many, no matter how long it’s been since the last occurance (it’s been over 10 years for me, and he’s now dead, and yet it still that thought pervades), and the longer the abuse went on, the more pervasive and rooted that feeling becomes.

Besides the sensitive subject of molestation and the emotional affectation of the book, there is also the racial side of things.  This is where my brain spent more time, because it’s the only part I don’t share with Precious (well, that and I didn’t have children by my abuser).  I would say, “I hope I don’t offend anyone,” but then would holding back in an attempt to be non-offensive honor my Flavor of the Week, Amy, or create dialogue?  No, it would not.  So let the offense commence!

Push by Sapphire – on Race and racism

This review may become my longest ever (except The Book Thief, and may surpass that and the companion post), but I don’t care.  It deserves the length and the discussion.  Let’s get real, as Dr. Phil says.

Precious has a poster on her wall of the famous leader of The Nation of Islam, and often refers to him as the only real man she knows.  One of his sentiments that she echos more than once is, “problem is not crack but the cracker” (page 83).  I will heartily admit there are far more white people who have put their feet on the back of the neck of blacks throughout history than have helped, but maybe I’m naive in hoping things are better now than before.  I grew up in with a racist father who told offensive jokes and used the N word often, though he was not as bad as a lot of my friends parents.  It’s the way things were then.  It should NOT have been, and it was wrong, but it was what it was.  I’ve done my best to free myself from all that biggotry and to unlearn the prejudice, but it’s still something I’m aware of.  My hope is that my children will never think multiculturalism an oddity, but that it comes as natural to them as sunshine and breathing.

As the story progresses, Ms Rain, Precious’s teacher, shows her that not ALL Farrakhan’s ideas are right, like his anti-semitism and anti-homosexual beliefs, and Precious understands and sees her point.  She still hangs on to him as an inspiration and hero, citing him in her poem at the end of the book “Get up off your knees, Farrakhan say”, which I think is maturity in anyone.  As I’ve gotten older, read more, and learned more, there’s one thing I’ve come to understand about people.  We want a quick and easy, singular answer.  Life is anything but that, though, and no one person has the answers to everything, nor is he or she right all the time.  You have to sift and take away what’s worthy and leave the rest.  Most of the people you glean from aren’t good or bad, but a mixture of the two, and we must see their humanity and avoid the temptation to adulation or hate.

Other moments in the book that show the sense of distrust and dislike of whites are things like Precious’s feelings in the school counselor’s office, or the social worker’s office in the halfway house.  Precious, as well as the others in her class, express distrust, fear, and blame the white people in charge of her case.  This, I think, is the sentiment that sticks in my heart and throat as I try to wrap my head around it and put myself in her shoes.  Everywhere Precious would turn, there is a white wall blocking her escape.  No one stepped in to take her out of the situation after her first baby was born.  Who stood up to help her learn to read?  Where was the teacher when Precious was having such emotional problems (other kids in the class, her mother’s abuse at home, and the main start of the sexual abuse) in the second grade that she was wetting her pants?  Ugh!  I can understand the blame and anger she feels toward whites, and it breaks my heart to know I myself, my kids included, are judged the same, though we would NOT be like that.

And maybe it’s that that makes the racism in this book painful.  I’m being judged by the color of my skin, too, and it isn’t fair – it is never fair.  And with that thought, I have to bump Push by Sapphire up another notch, because reading it has given me a glimpse at what it feels like for African-Americans all the time, and they can’t close their book at “The End”.  They live it all the time, while I get to go back to being white in a white world.

I really love this book and, but for the explicit language and the mature subject matter, think it should be read by everyone.  Okay, so it’s not likely to be a classroom read for a high school, but definitely a college study.  I wish I’d known about it when I was in college, I could’ve had another 13 years of mulling it over and letting it work through me.  Of course, obviously, I give Push by Sapphire 5 out of 5 stars.

Here is the author Sapphire in an interview with Katie Couric discussing the journey of the book Push to the movie Precious

And, I couldn’t resist a trailer for the movie.. k, now I’m weepy.

Yay! I Am Now a Microlender :-)

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I was really inspired by Dawn’s post about Kiva.  I was signed up, but wanted to loan to someone in Vietnam and none were available at that time.  Apparently, the site will email you if you’ve not been on for a while, because I got a “Please come back” email this morning and followed the link back.  I figured I’d check to see if there were any Vietnamese loans available, but I wasn’t holding my breath.  Lo and behold, there were about 8 or 10 this morning in various stages of financing.  I’ve been watching it all day, waiting until I’d put money on my card before selecting someone.  Let me tell you!  These loans go fast!  By the time I’d gotten back from Wal-mart (I load a prepaid card there), there were 5 loans left.  I want to do one more in Maggie’s name, but have to wait for her to come back from walking her friend home.

So here is who I’ve loaned to, and I’m so excited about it!

Dang Thi My's Group

Mỵ Đặng Thị operates a family member’s general store selling school products such as pencils, pen and notebooks in her community. Mỵ is a 52-year-old woman living in the town of Đông Anh – Hà nội. She is married and has three school-age children. Mỵ has been in her business for over 10 years and earns approximately 2.000.000 dong (VND) a month. (That’s $108.53 a MONTH, USD)

In 2006, Mỵ joined SEDA to gain access to financial services to help improve her living conditions and enable her to engage in business activities. Mỵ has successfully repaid a previous loan of 4.142.000 VND from SEDA which was used to invest in expanding the business. She is now requesting a new loan of 5.014.000 VND which will be used to invest in expanding the business. This will be her fifth loan from SEDA. Mỵ plans to use the additional revenue to pay for the tuition fees of her children.

Mỵ is the leader of a 5 member group accessing a loan offered by SEDA. While each member of the group receives an individual loan, they all are responsible for paying back the loans of their fellow group members if someone is delinquent or defaults. The official name of this borrowing group is Tiên Hội (2).

About the Other Borrowers in the Group:
1. Đỗ Thị Tân is a 47-year-old woman who is requesting a 5.014.000 VND loan to support her clothing business.
2. Lê Thị Tý is a 42-year-old woman who is requesting a 5.014.000 VND loan to support her business in the services sector.
3. Trần Thị Vịnh is a 52-year-old woman who is requesting a 5.014.000 VND loan to support her business raising livestock.
4. Lương Thị Hải is a 45-year-old woman who is requesting a 5.014.000 VND loan to support her business running a food stall.

About SEDA:
The mission of SEDA (Center of Small Enterprise Development Assistance) is to provide microfinance services to low income and disadvantaged people in rural areas of Hanoi and the northern provinces of Vietnam.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Silly me found out I could’ve just used my PayPal account and not had to wait for the credit card… der!  But then I might not have picked this group, so maybe this was the way it was meant to be.

After I checked out and everything, Kiva offered to email the following to my address book for me, hmm.. how nice?  a bit spammy…  I passed on this service.  I’ve already invited everyone in my address book to join Kiva.

I just made a loan to someone in Viet Nam using a revolutionary new website called Kiva (www.kiva.org).

You can go to Kiva’s website and lend to someone across the globe who needs a loan for their business – like raising goats, selling vegetables at market or making bricks.  Each loan has a picture of the entrepreneur, a description of their business and how they plan to use the loan so you know exactly how your money is being spent – and you get updates letting you know how the entrepreneur is going.
  
The best part is, when the entrepreneur pays back their loan you get your money back – and Kiva’s loans are managed by microfinance institutions on the ground who have a lot of experience doing this, so you can trust that your money is being handled responsibly.

I just made a loan to an entrepreneur named Đặng Thị Mỵ’s Group in Viet Nam.  They still need another $1,175.00 to complete their loan request of $1,375.00 (you can loan as little as $25.00!).  Help me get this entrepreneur off the ground by clicking on the link below to make a loan to Đặng Thị Mỵ’s Group too:

http://www.kiva.org/app.php?page=businesses&action=about&id=170125

It’s finally easy to actually do something about poverty – using Kiva I know exactly who my money is loaned to and what they’re using it for.  And most of all, I know that I’m helping them build a
sustainable business that will provide income to feed, clothe, house and educate their family long after my loan is paid back.

Join me in changing the world – one loan at a time.

‘An inexpensive feel-good investment opportunity…All loaned funds go directly to the applicants, and most loans are repaid in full.’
— Entrepreneur Magazine   

Thanks!

———————————————————
What others are saying about www.Kiva.org:

‘Revolutionising how donors and lenders in the US are connecting with small entrepreneurs in developing countries.’
— BBC

‘If you’ve got 25 bucks, a PC and a PayPal account, you’ve now got the wherewithal to be an international financier.’
— CNN Money

‘Smaller investors can make loans of as little as $25 to specific individual entrepreneurs through a service launched last fall by Kiva.org.’
— The Wall Street Journal

I did, however, paste that to my facebook… LOL.  So everyone THERE got spammed. :-D

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Mags just came back, I showed her Kiva, signed her up for her own account on it, and then showed her the Vietnamese loans available.  The funny little bugger picked the same group as me.  I told her the $25 loan was part of her birthday present, which is on February 11th. 

Question I asked Maggie, “How do you feel knowing that you’ve just loaned money to a family in Vietnam who are going to use that to expand their business and pay for their kids to go to school?”

Answer:  I feel kinda proud :-) 

Question:  How do you feel that the family lives in Vietnam, as opposed to loaning to someone in South America?

Answer:  I like it because my daddy’s country.

Question:  What are you going to do when they pay the money back?

Answer:  I want to buy toys for their kids, and presents for them, but I don’t know where to send it.

Ooookay, not the answer I was expecting, exactly… lol… but she does understand that she can either re-invest her $25 into a new loan, or cash out.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 494 other followers