What happens when your experience of motherhood is nothing at all what you hoped for, but everything you always feared?
‘The women in this family, we’re different . . .’
Blythe Connor doesn’t want history to repeat itself.
Violet is her first child and she will give her daughter all the love she deserves. All the love that her own mother withheld.
But firstborns are never easy. And Violet is demanding and fretful. She never smiles. Soon Blythe believes she can do no right – that something’s very wrong. Either with her daughter, or herself.
Her husband, Fox, says she’s imagining it. But Violet’s different with him. And he can’t understand what Blythe suffered as a child. No one can.
Blythe wants to be a good mother. But what if that’s not enough for Violet? Or her marriage? What if she can’t see the darkness coming?
Mother and daughter. Angel or monster?
We don’t get to choose our inheritance – or who we are . . .
I had been seeing The Push all over Instagram, and hearing so many good things about it that I jumped at the chance to be part of the Tandem Collective Global readalong. I really enjoyed this book, but it is one of those ones that is hard to talk about and review – first because I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but also because it is hard to put my finger on exactly what it was I loved about it. I also found that it was one of those stories that feels easy and quick to read because it pulls you along through the story in such a compelling way, even though some of the subject matter is actually really difficult and dark. It also it feels kind of weird to describe the experience of reading it as ‘enjoyable’ because I spent most of the book feeling ujust a bit uncomfortable and unnerved.
The story goes back and forth a bit – we see bits of Blythe’s childhood, as well as her mother’s childhood, which helps to build the theme of cycles of inheritance – can Blythe be a good mother when her mother and grandmother struggled? I felt like this was so well drawn out throughout the novel, and i didn’t mind the flashbacks, although I did sometimes find it hard to keep track of who was who and which mother/child pair we were talking about.
There is a lot of description of pregnancy and birth and early motherhood, which I found really gripping – it’s hard to describe, but there was a truth and honesty to some of the passages that made the writing feel almost primal in how intimate and raw it was (does that even make sense?).
While the flashbacks and writing about the experience of motherhood were really prominent features of the novel they are in fact kind of in the background, and sort of give the context for the main narrative, which is the story of Blythe and Violet. This is definitely difficult to talk about without spoilers, so I’m just going to say that I thought the story flowed well, and I couldn’t wait to find out what would happen next. I got kind of a sense of the unreliable narrator from Blythe (the story is framed as having been written by her so it’s all her perspective with the exception of the flashbacks), although I think part of what makes the story so intriguing is trying to figure out as you go whether Blythe’s take on things can be trusted or not.
This was a great pick for a readalong, and I think it will make an excellent book club read – there is just so much in there to go over and discuss, and I can guarantee that each person reading it would have something different to bring to the conversation. I’d love to hear in the comments below if you’ve read it, and any (spoiler-free!) thoughts you’d like to add.
Big thanks to Tandem Collective Global for having me along on the readalong (I am enjoying doing these so much!), as well as Penguin Books Australia for sending me a free copy to read.
The Push by Ashley Audrain
Out now from Penguin Books Australia.
Source: Free copy sent to me by Penguin via Tandem Collective (thank you!). All views are my own.
Category: Contemporary thriller/suspense.
The Push on Goodreads
Find Ashley Audrain online here