THEMES: Thriller, Psychological Fiction, Suspense, Domestic Fiction

“But I was on the cusp of the age when women worry about disappearing to everyone but themselves, blending in with their sensible hair, their practical coats. I see them walk down the street every day as though they’re ghosts. I suppose I wasn’t ready to be invisible yet. Not then.”

― Ashley Audrain, The Push

To be honest I was confused

The Push is one of those books where there is a lot of hype surrounding it, and it is also for that very reason that I decided to give this book a shot. Initially, I was quite excited to pick this up but then after reading so many mixed reviews about this one, I became hesitant. I was questioning whether it will be worth the time. But eventually, I pushed all my hesitation away and dived straight into it. 

Did I like it then?

And guess what? I loved it and I was able to feel so much by the end of the book. There were a lot of emotions that I carried with me throughout my reading of it, and they all broke off violently when I reached the end. It is also then that I realized, despite the mixed reviews, that this is one of those books that I will always remember and look back from time to time. 

The books it reminded me of

The Push also reminded me a lot of Where the Crawdads Sing whereby a woman is being talked about in the town and shunned because of her diagnosis but not because of her true self. 

To read about a mother who suffered from some kind of nervous illness because of something that happened in the past reminded me so much of Malibu Rising where the mother did not know how to take care of her children anymore and had become a stranger to them. 

The story as it goes

The Push is a deep and dark psychological drama about a mother who hopes that she will be a very different mother than what she got. While she hoped for all the great things in motherhood but what she got was something else altogether. 

Blythe Connor wants to be a devoted mother, something that her own mother never was. But just when she was in the most nascent and exhausting phase of motherhood, she realizes that there is something wrong with her daughter Violet. She doesn’t seem normal like other children do.

As she tries to narrate her experiences to her husband, but her husband simply dismisses them, making Blythe question her own experiences and memory, thus making her an unreliable character in the story.

Later, she gives birth to her son Sam and this time motherhood is everything that she ever wanted. But very soon their life changes and everything falls apart, ultimately making Blythe face the harsh truth.

What is the book all about?

Coming back to the themes – The Push is a thriller novel that mostly revolves around motherhood. I am not talking about the good things about becoming a mother but the other side of it. I am quite drawn to books that talk about this specific theme but mostly the nasty side of it, excluding all the sunshine, rainbows, and happiness. I love reading about the sad and harsh realities of life, the ones that never made their way to table talks but have always been pushed sideways. 

Makes you question everything that you know about becoming a mother

When you think about motherhood, the first adjective that pops into your head is love, warmth, care, safety, home, a sense of belonging, and all the happiness in the world. I guess what drew this book to me is the fact that it explored a different version of motherhood, something you would never think can be associated with the term. It’s partly curiosity that made me pick this book up, but in reality, it has more to do with the fact that I dislike reading happy novels. I gravitate more to novels that portray the dark, brutal, and harsh reality of everyday existence. 

The writer has portrayed everything in a raw and realistic manner. There is no sugarcoating of anything at all. We see everything as it is. The topic of fear of becoming a parent is also highlighted in this book, which I believe the author has done complete justice to. We are all humans, and sometimes we do give in to fears. It just goes to an extreme level in this book. 

Other themes explored

As I said, everything about this book is all about unconventionality. The author explores the psyche of a child’s mind, from birth till they reach maturity. When you look at children, you see cuteness, joy, happiness, and a lot more. But this book tells us that what goes on in their little head is not as simple as we believe it to be. Sometimes, it can be so grotesque that you would not think a child is capable of thinking or doing exactly that. 

Mental issues also serve as one of the major themes of the novel. Almost all the issues or problems that caused chaos in the characters’ life are because there is something deeply wrong in the minds of the main characters. And I love how the author explored it layer by layer until we come to a culmination of it all. 

Moreover, the theme of generational trauma is so well done in this novel. You understand everything a little better because you also know a little bit better about all that has happened before the present events. I have always preferred psychological thrillers more than normal thriller novels because I believe there is so much to be explored especially when one takes into account the dark places that a human mind can travel to. This is what fascinates me the most because there is always something more to be intrigued and engaged with.

Who would like to read?

If you love reading dark and shadowy realities of human existence, I would recommend The Push because it can give you exactly that. Also, the language is quite easy to comprehend. There are no big words to complicate your reading. 

Even the plot structure is quite impressive though some people would disagree because the different jumps within timelines can be quite confusing if you are not fully engrossed in the novel. 

For myself, this is also one of the main reasons that held my attention for so long because the novel does not have a simple flow but rather, one that has a lot of suspense and mystery to it. So, in a way, rather than revealing everything to the readers in one go, the author decided to move slowly and reveal everything to us at her own slow pace. 

It is only after you read the ending that a lot of what happened in the novel will finally make sense. Until then, I hope you will not miss out on this book. Do read it the first chance you get! 

Can’t wait to read it? Buy your copy of The Push using the link below.