Tuesday, April 18, 2023

The Push by Ashley Audrain

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.

Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books/Viking  | Genre: Psychological Suspense | Source: Publisher (unsolicited review copy) | Rating: 3

I had this book on my shelf since before it was released and I wasn’t sure when I was going to get to it so I decided to throw it in my 23 Books in 2023 TBR Jar and it ended up being the first one I pulled.

While the book was fast paced and lyrical in flow it was tense and heavy. I went into this book thinking it was more of a thriller or horror (not sure why people labeled it as either of those) so I found myself waiting for something to happen before I realized it was more of a psychological suspense.

Blythe never wanted to be a mother, so when she finds herself saying yes to her husband’s wishes to start a family she’s determined to be the mother she never had although, from the start, she notices that something’s not right with her daughter. While Violet seems like the perfect daughter to Fox, Blythe can’t help but to see the darkness in her daughter, although everyone seems to think it’s all in Blythe’s head. When their young son dies in a horrible accident, Blythe knows her daughter had something to do with it, which drives a wedge between her and her husband.

Throughout the book, we also peer into the lives of Etta and Cecelia (Blythe’s grandmother and mother).

If you’re going into this book expecting to like the characters and get a definitive answer about what’s going on then you’ll be disappointed. No one was likable, most of the characters were actually painful to read about, and I found myself questioning Fox’s choice to keep some events to himself regarding their daughter. I also found myself questioning whether Violet’s actions were due to her nature or the way her mother seemed to resent her from the moment she was born. Then there was the ending, which left more questions than answers.

There was a lot going on in this book but most of it comes down to this being a book about horrible mothers passing their inadequacies to mother down to their daughters. This book also brings up the debate of nature vs. nurture. Was Violet born bad or was she the result of her mother not knowing how to mother? Unfortunately, the author never provides us with an answer regarding Violet’s actions.

I’m on the fence about rating this one. Originally, I had it marked as 3.5 but I’m thinking this is more of a 3. While the book was fast paced and had a lyrical flow, there were a lot of things that felt like filler just to give this book a frantic and desperate tone. This could have been a novella rather than a full-length.  I also wasn’t a fan of the ending and felt like it could have been handled better.

Overall, this was an easy book to get into but it was heavy. I am glad that I finally got around to reading it but reading it once was more than enough. It had the feel and tone of a Lifetime movie (think The Bad Seed). 


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