“The Push” Book Review / Summary
Content warning: While I LOVED The Push and VERY highly recommend it, I definitely DO NOT recommend it for new or expecting moms. It’s just really raw about that time in life, and I note most other reviews I have seen have said the same.
Ashley Audrain’s startling debut novel The Push is a provocative book that really made an impact on me, and I have been thinking about it for quite a few months now. It’s a psyschological thriller that makes social commentary and really makes you think about motherhood, including it’s darkest sides.
It’s a story about the most lifechanging and literal “push” that is childbirth, and the more figurative “push” that society places on women to have children.
Blythe Connor is a woman who had an abusive and uncaring mother, so she’s determined to be the best mother for her own daughter, Violet.
But Violet’s behavior seems “off.” Blythe thinks Violet hates her and may even be malicious. Blythe is in that “new mom” state of confusion, fear, and anxiety, wondering if it’s all in her head. What she’s thinking and feeling is isolating, dark, and raw, and it shines a light on parts of motherhood not often talked about.
What if motherhood is not what a woman anticipated it to be? The Push WILL make you feel uncomfortable in exploring that question, in a very necessary kind of way.
Blythe’s husband, Fox, abruptly dismisses her fears. So, perhaps Violet really isn’t a “bad” child after all, and it’s Blythe who is an unreliable narrator of this story.
Motherhood is just not what Blythe thought it would be, and it seems everyone is doubting her, including herself.
But when their second child, Sam, is later born, Blythe connects deeply with him and they share a beautiful love, until another questionable moment with Violet changes everything in their lives forever.
As The Push unravels from here, it definitely keeps you guessing who’s good and who’s bad in this mother-daughter relationship, but more importantly, why. This multi-layered family drama is downright chilling, and it will keep you on the edge of your seat until you uncover the most disturbing truths.
After all, Blythe’s own mother often told her this about her family history: the women in their family are different.
The Push explores the differences between nature and nurture, and how the effects of motherhood can affect generations of family, including the marriages at their cores.
At the end of the day, The Push is a compelling novel that “pushes” us as a society to talk more about the darkest sides of motherhood and to be open to more interpretations to how women are “supposed to” feel about motherhood.
For all of these reasons, it also makes a great book for book clubs that want a really provocative discussion.
“The Push” Book Ending Explained
WARNING: THIS SECTION CONTAINS BOOK SPOILERS!
After Blythe and Fox divorce, he gets custody of Violet and moves in with his girlfriend, Gemma, with whom he has a son named Jet. Blythe’s relationship with Violet remains strained and eventually, Blythe loses visitation rights.
Just when it seems Blythe has caused the downfall of the family, Gemma calls Blythe and informs her that something happened to Jet, implying that Violet has caused him harm.
Thus, it appears Violet really may be a psychopath and Blythe, vindicated. It’s not the most unpredictable ending, but what’s so haunting about it is the chilling truth that Violet is the culmination of generations of parental trauma.
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