Published by: Pamela Dorman Books
Date released: 05/01/2021
Date read: 26/01/2021
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.
I couldn’t go on Instagram for weeks leading up to the publication of The Push without seeing photos and pre-release reviews everywhere! It was being hailed as one of the best books written, and a fantastic start to 2021, a “tense, page-turning psychological drama”. So, of course, I had to join in and I bought it.
I took me a while to get into it. At first it is not abundantly clear who the narrator of the book is – and I’ve had conversations with other readers that say the same thing. Even once you know who it is, there are still moments where you question it. Maybe this is deliberate? Maybe it’s meant to start the reader on a confusing journey, matching Blythe’s mind’s inner workings?
But let me tell you, once you get stuck in, you can’t get back out until you’ve finished it. It is a horrifically hard book to read, but that’s not a negative. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Its horrific to think that a mother wouldn’t love their child, or would suspect their child of doing awful things, but it happens. No-one is perfect, when you’re sleep-deprived, stressed, and often in pain after having a baby, it’s easy for your mind to start playing tricks on you. And when you’re certain you are right, it’s easy for others to put it down to your hormones.
Ashley has written a tense psychological drama that does present some complicated topics, and it’s not a book for everyone. It covers damaged children, mental health, violence, death, divorce. And yet, even though it is jam-packed with terrible things, it doesn’t seem overwhelming or over-the-top. It is so convincing that Blythe is experiencing this horrible world, and you are torn between believing her and willing her on, and begging her to get psychological help.
It challenges everything you think you know about motherhood, about what we owe our children, and what it feels like when women, especially new mums, are not believed.