In 1987, obese, illiterate, black 16-year-old Claireece 'Precious' Jones lives in Harlem with her dysfunctional family. She has been raped and impregnated twice by her father, Carl. She suffers constant physical, mental and sexual abuse from her unemployed mother, Mary. After getting pregnant for the second time, Precious is suspended from her school. Her principal arranges to have her attend an alternative school where her new teacher, Ms. Rain, helps Precious learn to read and she responds to this glimmer of hope. Precious also meets Mrs. Weiss, a social worker, and discovers the abuse and incest that Precious has had to endure. Her father dies of AIDS and Precious learns that she is now HIV-positive.