*I received a free ARC of this book, with thanks to the author, Penguin UK – Michael Joseph and NetGalley. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: What if your experience of motherhood was nothing like what you hoped for – but everything you always feared?
‘The women in this family, we’re different . . .’
The arrival of baby Violet was meant to be the happiest day of my life.
It was meant to be a fresh start.
But as soon as I held her in my arms I knew something wasn’t right. I have always known that the women in my family aren’t meant to be mothers.
My husband Fox says I’m imagining it. He tells me I’m nothing like my own mother, and that Violet is the sweetest child.
But she’s different with me. Something feels very wrong.
Is it her? Or is it me?
Is she the monster? Or am I?
The Push is a heart-pounding exploration of motherhood, obsession and the terrible price of unconditional love.
As both a mother and a daughter (and as a reader!) I found this story terribly disturbing, in a very compelling way.
The Push charts the cyclical nature of child abuse and neglect through generations of mothers and daughters within the same family. Etta struggles to mother Cecilia, who struggles to mother Blythe, so when Blythe meets Fox and he blithely assumes they will be starting a family together, the reader empathises with Blythe’s fear that the women in her family are never meant to be mothers.
The author explores the complicated relationship between mothers and daughters, mothers and sons, and the serious issues of post partum depression/psychosis and child abuse/neglect, with a raw, horrified honesty through Blythe’s frank admissions of her own flaws and inner struggles. However, nothing is ever that simple when it comes to parenting, and Ashley Audrain doesn’t shy away from the idea that mental health issues can affect children as easily as adults, especially if they run in the family. Is it nature, or nature that triumphs when something somewhere has gone wrong?
Tension runs high throughout the novel as Blythe struggles to trust her own feelings and perceptions, and the reader wonders whose version of events to trust, and whether there can ever be any sort of positive outcome for any of these damaged characters. I felt physically sick and riddled with anxiety whilst reading, and absolutely could not put the book down until I found out where it was all going to end… or even, whether it was. My reaction to some scenes was so visceral that I had to pause to check on my own children before continuing!
A mother’s worst nightmares are laid bare within this terrifying, intimate story, and it really made me think about the responsibility we take on when we bring new life into the world, whilst aware of our own inherently flawed natures. Philip Larkin would have had a field day with this family!
I would recommend this one for fans of taut domestic, psychological thriller stories, who can stomach reading about the kind of evils that can and shouldn’t happen to a child.
“One day you’ll understand, Blythe. The women in this family… we’re different.”– Ashley Audrain, The Push
I can still see my mother’s tangerine lipstick on the cigarette filter. The ash falling into the cup, swimming in the last sip of my orange juice. The smell of my burnt toast.
You only asked about my mother, Cecilia, on a few occasions. I only told you the facts: 1) she left when I was eleven years old, 2) I only ever saw her twice after that, and 3) I have no idea where she is now.
You knew I was holding back more, but you never pressed—you were scared of what you might hear. I understood. We’re all entitled to have certain expectations of each other and of ourselves. Motherhood is no different. We all expect to have, and to marry, and to be, good mothers.
The Push releases on 7th January 2021, but you can pre-order it on Amazon right now!