Explore this guide to Ashley Audrain’s books in order to learn everything you need to know about her chilling domestic novels that lean into the territory of psychological thrillers with suspense that keeps you turning the pages.
I am writing this guide to Ashley Audrain’s books off the heels of reading her sophomore novel, which felt just as compelling to me as the first, which was so well received by so many readers. It’s clear now that she’s a brutally open and honest force in the exploration of the realities of motherhood.
Ashley Audrain herself is a mother of two, and she previously worked in public relations, namely as the publicity director of Penguin Books Canada.
In her writing, Audrain is not afraid to “go there,” from questioning whether a mother is a good or bad one to admitting that motherhood can be harder and different than a woman could ever anticipate.
Since the realities of motherhood can be a really taboo topic, and since I think she handles it in a really captivating way that makes the reader really think for a long time after finishing her books, I knew I wanted to place a spotlight on them.
Below are Ashley Audrain’s books in order, including brief summaries and reviews (with no spoilers), followed by answers to a few frequently asked questions about them.
Ashley Audrain Books in Order
- New York Times bestseller
- #1 international bestseller
- Good Morning America book club pick
Content Warning: The Push may be triggering to pregnant women and/or new moms.
The Push is Ashley Audrain’s debut novel that catapulted her writing career.
In the book, Fox and Blythe are a young married couple with a young child named Violet. Blythe herself descends from a long line of “bad mothers,” so she’s determined to be a good one. The problem? Something about Violet feels “off” to her — even downright malicious.
But, her husband dismisses her concerns, leading her to grapple alone with her confusing thoughts and emotions about mothering Violet.
When their son, Sam, is born, however, Blythe’s connection with him is immediate and undeniable. That is until one pivotal, and very questionable, moment changes everything in their family.
Essentially, The Push is a really provocative novel about society’s push for women to give birth and how the physical act of pushing a child into the world forever changes a person’s life. It’s also about how generational family trauma is handed down.
The Push touches on so many modern topics impacting women and families in such a compelling and unputdownable way. Audrain is both realistic and downright raw about really taboo experiences of motherhood, including bad mothering and coping with a potentially “bad” child, as well as all the gaslighting and minimizing that comes along with sharing those thoughts.
The suspenseful writing leaves you glued to the pages and then, the haunting, yet very real, themes leave you thinking about it long afterward.
Related Post: Full Review of The Push
- Featured in summer reading recommendations by Good Morning America, TIME, ELLE, The Washington Post & more
Content Warning: The Whispers may be triggering to those who have experienced infertility issues and/or infidelity.
The Whispers is Ashley Audrain’s sophomore novel, and it packs just as big of a punch as her debut. This novel similarly focuses on domestic fiction with a psychological thriller twist, but it expands its reach to four families in a suburban neighborhood.
In many ways, it reminded me of Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, while still being completely unique in its own right. Essentially, it’s about all those little secrets that hide beneath the cracks of a modern suburban landscape, and it reaches beyond the struggles of motherhood to also tackle the woes of marriage and the blues of approaching middle age.
At the heart of the story is Whitney, a wife and mother of three who seemingly has it all together, particularly at her perfectly planned and executed neighborhood bash. But, when her mischievous son, Xavier, acts out, she loses her temper and berates him in front of everybody.
This includes Blair, who is Whitney’s friend and an all-around “good mom” to her daughter, Chloe, a close friend of Xavier. But, Blair is secretly convinced her husband is cheating, and it’s eating her up inside.
It also includes Rebecca, a wife and medical doctor struggling deeply with devastating infertility issues and yearning to become a mother while feeling like a “faulty” woman.
And Mara, an elderly immigrant, wife, and mother of a son who died long ago, watches it all from her window while she still grieves and resents her husband.
The neighborhood’s secrets unfold, reveal themselves, and intertwine, through some smaller and larger daily occurrences that leave the reader compulsively turning the pages.
It turns out that a temper isn’t the only thing Whitney is hiding. When Xavier is left unconscious in the hospital after an event, everyone is left to question whether it was a fall, a suicide attempt, or something criminal at the hands of his volatile mother.
There’s even more: Whitney has both a secret life and a secret yearning for what life without children would be like. At the same time, however, she desperately wants another chance to get it right and be a better mom. Like many, if not most, many seemingly opposing things are true about her at the same time.
As three pivotal days unfold after Xavier’s event, all of these festering issues rise to the surface and combust in ways that you won’t expect, leaving the lives of all of these complex characters forever changed.
The Whispers are all those controversial thoughts that creep into the minds of these female neighbors about their lives and their families as they reach a certain age (middle age for Whitney, Blair, and Rebecca, and later for Mara, of course). It’s about whether they’re right or wrong and how they translate into reality.
And, in case you were wondering, there are surprising twists, and the ending is a shocker that leaves the reader gasping and yearning to know what happens next.
Frequently Asked Questions
No. The Push by Ashley Audrain is a standalone novel without a sequel. However, if you liked it, then you may also like the author’s second novel, The Whispers, which is written similarly and has similar themes.
The Whispers by Ashley Audrain is about a young boy who is unconscious and hospitalized after a questionable event that may have been an accidental fall, a suicide attempt, or the result of a criminal action by his volatile mother. Over the course of three days, the different secrets of the mother and three other women in their neighborhood who are aware of her dark side slowly unfold and intertwine in ways that forever change all of their lives.
When it comes to writing, Ashley Audrain is one to read now and watch in the coming years as well. She’s taken the genre of modern domestic fiction drama and bent it toward the territory of suspenseful psychological thriller, while also making statements that leave the readers thinking about taboo topics that affect women, particularly motherhood.