Psychological Reviews Suspense

The Push by Ashley Audrain Review

There’s something deeply disturbing that unfolds between the pages of this tightly plotted psychological thriller.

At its core, The Push is a story about mothers who aren’t believed — from those who voice the wish not to be mothers in the first place to those who discover something disconcerting emerging in their offspring, and everything in between. There are powerful themes of mental illness here. Main character Blythe suffers from postpartum depression after giving birth to her first child (Violet). Yet neither husband (Fox) nor doctors seem to think there’s anything (prescription-medication worthy) wrong with Blythe’s inability to form a connection with her newborn daughter. Blythe just needs to try a bit harder to be the mother Fox (and society) envisions for his children.

Blythe herself is hesitant to take any medication. She still remembers the pills on her mother’s nightstand, the (horror) stories about the grandmother who suffered from mental illness. Blythe never met her grandmother, Etta, and her own mother, Cecilia, left when she was only eleven. Blythe has vowed to do better by Violet and Fox. She wants to be the perfect mother, but it’s impossible with a daughter like Violet. Violet hates her. More than that, there’s something not right about Violet; Blythe can feel it. But no one believes her.

The narrative switches between Blythe’s account (told in past tense, leading up to the present) and flashbacks that reveal glimpses of the past: Blythe’s life growing up with mom, Cecilia, as well as Cecilia’s life with mom, Etta. It’s four generations of mother-daughter relationships: Violet, Blythe, Cecilia, and Etta. Four women linked by family, blood, and the genetics they share.

Is it nature or nurture? And if it’s a degree of both, how much of that nature is nurtured by parenting choices vs. present all on its own?

Twists and revelations chase each other through the story — the more you think you know, the less you do. It’s a wonderful mess that this book makes of your head. The Push will leave you at the edge of your seat, racing through the pages. It’s a story that will remain with you long after the final page, and one of the best thrillers I’ve read in a long time.

Book: The Push
Published: Penguin
Pages: 320
Publication Date: January 5th, 2021
Stars: 5/5

Penguin Random House kindly sent me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion, rating, or the content of my review.

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