Book Reviews

The Push by Ashley Audrain: ARC Book Review

This is a spoiler-free review.

The Push by Ashley Audrain

Expected publication January 5th, 2021 by Viking.

My rating:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

A tense, page-turning psychological drama about the making and breaking of a family–and a woman whose experience of motherhood is nothing at all what she hoped for–and everything she feared.

Blythe Connor is determined that she will be the warm, comforting mother to her new baby Violet that she herself never had.

But in the thick of motherhood’s exhausting early days, Blythe becomes convinced that something is wrong with her daughter–she doesn’t behave like most children do.

Or is it all in Blythe’s head? Her husband, Fox, says she’s imagining things. The more Fox dismisses her fears, the more Blythe begins to question her own sanity, and the more we begin to question what Blythe is telling us about her life as well.

Then their son Sam is born–and with him, Blythe has the blissful connection she’d always imagined with her child. Even Violet seems to love her little brother. But when life as they know it is changed in an instant, the devastating fall-out forces Blythe to face the truth.

The Push is a tour de force you will read in a sitting, an utterly immersive novel that will challenge everything you think you know about motherhood, about what we owe our children, and what it feels like when women are not believed.

Content Warnings: child abuse, self-harm, suicide, postpartum depression

Thank you to the publisher, Viking/Penguin Random House Canada, and NetGalley for providing me with an e-ARC of this book. All thoughts are my own.

“Blythe, the women in this family… we’re different. You’ll see.”

Blythe comes from a long line of poor mothers and broken homes. Her husband, Fox’s family, on the other hand, is anything but dysfunctional. So when Fox starts to push for the two of them to have a child of their own, Blythe is nervous, but determined to do better than her mother ever did for her.

But things are never as simple as they seem. And while Blythe does everything in her power to be the best mother she can be, things never seem to “click” between her and her daughter Violet. As Violet grows older, Blythe’s concerns grow too. Violet doesn’t behave the way Blythe thinks children ought to. She’s cold, and callous and demonstrates behaviour that lacks empathy.

But Fox doesn’t share in any of Blythe’s concerns. In fact, he thinks their daughter is perfectly normal for her age. It’s Blythe that he’s concerned about. And as their mother-daughter relationship becomes even more strained, the more Fox worries about his wife’s grip on reality…

“Mothers aren’t supposed to have children who suffer. We aren’t supposed to have children who die. And we are not supposed to make bad people.”

Prior to reading The Push I had heard so many good things about this book! I swear, it kept seeing its cover everywhere! And the reviews were incredible. Add in the fact that it’s a psychological drama – one of my favorite genres – and written by a Canadian author, you can bet I was very excited to read this novel.

This book is Ashley Audrain’s debut novel, and she definitely delivers. The Push is everything the noteworthy reviews on its cover boast. A twisted tale about motherhood through the generations, Audrain doesn’t pull any punches. Told from the alternating perspective of Blythe in the form of letters to her husband Fox and flashbacks to her mother, Cecilia, throughout her childhood dealing with her own mother, Etta, The Push is a dark, intense, and raw look at the realities of being a mother, and what happens when things don’t go exactly as planned.

In a world where motherhood is touted as being the most ~natural, magical, perfect~ experience a woman can have – and the epitome of what all women should aspire towards – The Push is a fresh, gripping look at motherhood that stands out for its originality and ingenuity.

In Blythe a common concern many would-be-mothers worry about – what if I’m a bad mother? – is actualized, and then taken to the extreme. With impossible to predict consequences. Despite it having a somewhat slow start, The Push manages to find its momentum quicker than anticipated and live up to the expectations its rave reviews inevitably insight.

What psychological thrillers are you most excited to read this year?

Let me know!

Liza is a twenty-something book blogger who spends way too much time with her nose in books and feels way too much. She loves cooking, baking, reality tv show watching and, of course, reading. She can be found most often with a cup of tea in one hand and a book in the other. Her blog, Literary Liza, features bookish content like reviews, recommendations, and author interviews.

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