"The Push," | Reviewed by Chris Stuckenschneider
Updated: Jan 17
“The Push,” a physiological thriller by Ashley Audrain, grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. Its cover captures the duality of Blythe, the main character and narrator. I kept wondering who the bad seed really was—Blythe, the mother, or her daughter, Violet, in a book that drives home “nature/nurture” with horrifying results.
We have reason to suspect Blythe. Dysfunction reigned supreme in her family, a cruel great-grandfather and a strain of off-balanced females, a grandmother, who “suffered from nerves” and an abusive mother.
Blythe, a would-be writer, has high hopes when she falls for Fox, a wonderful man she’s sure she’ll find happiness with. He’s from a loving, committed family, his mother accepting Blythe with open arms.
The honeymoon ends with the birth of the couple’s daughter, a difficult birth producing a difficult baby. Violet cries continuously, and Blythe believes she is bent on making her life miserable.
Try as she might, Blythe can’t calm her, yet when Fox comes home from the office, Violet clings to him, much preferring him to Blythe. Could it be because Blythe neglects Violet, blocks out her crying for hours by putting on headphones and listening to music so she can get some writing time in?
Rather than pulling Blythe and Fox together Violet drives them apart, a division Blythe believes can be closed with another baby—when Sam arrives he’s storybook perfect. Blythe adores her son, and it appears Violet does too. But unsettling scenarios arise that make Blythe distrust her, a tragic accident the final straw for Fox and Blythe’s marriage.
“The Push” is pure escapism, but it’s far from a pleasant read. At times Audrian’s writing is too graphic, but she had me from the get-go with her pulse-pounding plot and her ending was completely unexpected. There’s plenty to mull over too, making this quick-read a good choice for book clubs.