The Push - Ashley Audrain

Reading Challenge Category: Book club May read

Official Blurb:

Blythe and Violet. Mother and daughter.
It's a bond like no other.
But what if your little angel is a monster?
And what if no one sees it but you?

My Thoughts:

One of the book club members won a set of these books for us all to read and review as our May book club choice. I went in knowing nothing about the book except that it was getting rave reviews and was being advertised everywhere when it was released! I just didn’t get the opportunity to read it when it was released. It was also a Judy & Richard book club pick and a Sunday Times bestseller, so this spoke volumes that it would hopefully be a good read.
Even though the narration is a little strange and hard to get used to, at first, you are initially drawn into the story. Who is ‘you’, and why are they on the inside of the house and the narrator out in the cold?
The book is being told as if the protagonist Blythe is talking to the person she refers to as ‘you’. She is telling her life story with ‘you’ and their children. It doesn’t take long into the book to find out who ‘you’ is, so there was no major intrigue like I first thought there would be; all that was left to find out was how they would get to the point portrayed in the prologue.
The book’s structure is quite confusing as there are chapters based in the past depicting Blythe’s mum when she was a child with Blythe’s grandmother Etta. There are also chapters where Blythe is the child with her mother, Cecilia. It did get quite confusing, not only because the narration changed to a different style during these sections, but Etta and Cecilia as mothers were very similar, so Cecilia and Blythe as children had comparable experiences. Therefore, it wasn’t easy to distinguish where in the past you were and who was the child and who was the mother during the chapter. This is very difficult to describe as it was just as complicated to follow! I liked the initial story of Etta; it was really heartbreaking, but then her story took a dark turn. I kept wanting to revisit that girl who lost the love of her life, and I was disappointed that she no longer existed.
The main story follows Blythe after having her first child, and what the members of my book club agreed looked like she was suffering from postnatal depression. Violet is a problematic child, and as the story progresses, we see glimpses of pure malice, or do we? As the story is told solely from Blythe’s point of view, we only get her side of the story, leaving us guessing about what really happened.
I found the story became very monotonous around the 26% mark. It was very repetitive covering Blythe’s day looking after a baby. If I hadn’t been reading this for book club, the book probably would have ended up on the ‘Did Not Finish’ pile. I just wasn’t enjoying it. Nothing was happening, nothing was gripping me, and it felt more like a domestic drama than the thriller I’d been expecting.
The thing that helped the book the most was the concise chapters; it meant I could get through this quicker than if they, like the story itself, had dragged.
At about 60% into the book, I declared that it would need something massive and exciting to happen at the end to have made the slog through it worthwhile. Unfortunately, I was very disappointed, there was a lot left unsaid, and the very last sentence leaves you to make up your own mind about what has happened. I’m not too fond of endings like this; the author has concocted this story, so give me the ending you intended and don’t leave me up to my own devices. That does not make me happy about a book.
When discussing the book at the club this morning, we all felt that there were a lot of loose ends and things that weren’t answered. We also thought that the timeline and specific events just didn’t make sense. For example, the main story was set in present times, so the playground equipment would have all the safety regulations adhered to along with the special bouncy floor stuff they have these days. This simple detail was overlooked for the story’s drama instead, which made you question so much more that happened.
I think for me, this was a three-star read. I didn’t enjoy it, but I didn’t hate it either. It is most definitely not a thriller, and if I’d have gone in with this mindset from the beginning, I may have enjoyed it more. I just needed something else from the book, a shock or revelation that would make my reading it worthwhile; unfortunately, this didn’t happen, leaving me very disappointed. The title on Amazon promises a shocking twist, but there were no twists, and nothing shocked me.

The Push
by Ashley Audrain
Date Started
13th May 2022
Date Finished
17th May 2022