I haven't yet seen the movie Precious that is based on this book - but given the runaway success of both the film and the novel, I thought I better check it out. The good news is that this book is incredibly short and can easily be read in one short sitting. The book is written from the perspective of the character Precious, an illiterate teenager pregnant for the second time by her own father. She lives with an abusive mother who blames Precious for "stealing her man," and her first child, born with down syndrome is offensively named Little Mongo. Once her second pregnancy is discovered, Precious is sent to a continuation school, where under the guidance of a caring teacher, she learns how to explore her past through writing. The author writes in Precious's voice, meaning that the grammar and spelling throughout the book are horrendous - even worse when she is demonstrating Precious's actual written words in her new journal. I understand the point of this literary device - and have seen it used so many times in books where characters come from the inner city, are immigrants, or otherwise come from disadvantaged backgrounds. I do, however, find that it can distract from the story that is being told. What Sapphire does do well is present the viewpoint of a traumatized and abused young woman. In many ways Precious is wise beyond her years - she has learned to survive - both physically and mentally, and she has within her a desire to be better for her children. What is frustrating is that, through not fault of her own, she has no perspective or ability to understand her limitations - and while the teacher character in the book is supportive in this respect - there is only the haunting reality that Precious's children will end up deprived of the very basic care that she herself was never given. Obviously, this is part of the point of the story - that as a society we have failed countless children and communities on very basic levels - that our welfare system is broken, and that we allow our most precious resources to simply fall through the cracks. What I felt was missing in this story though was a sense of hope - Precious, despite all she has endured does have hope for herself and she is certainly working to better her future for herself and her children - but there isn't really a hint that this is going to turn out very well for anyone. The book and movie have been called "inspirational" and "redemptive." But, I didn't get this sense at all. Perhaps "unfortunately realistic" is more to the point, and lately I've just had a hard time reading stories about such bleak problems that offer no suggestions for solutions. This book seems to just be asking us to recognize that so much pain and horror exists in this world, and that yet the human spirit perseveres. I think we need so much more.