... taut, chilling ... Blythe’s postpartum experience is familiar, and Audrain renders it flawlessly ... Audrain has a gift for capturing the seemingly small moments that speak volumes about relationships ... Audrain conjures the disintegration of marriage, along with the legacy of intergenerational trauma and the pain of parental grief, so movingly that the extent to which Blythe goes off the rails doesn’t seem that far-fetched ... Occasionally the second person gets repetitive, and I found myself longing to hear Fox’s voice — or anyone else’s, really. But the chapters examining Blythe’s family’s past provide texture, and the narrative feels more balanced once Fox’s partner is tricked into dishing on their life, even asking Blythe for parenting advice. Finally, someone thinks she’s a good mother.
Ashley Audrain indelibly implants her narrator in the reader’s mind ... Through Blythe’s struggles and the slow-motion implosion of her marriage, Audrain cleverly examines and exploits women’s near-universal anxiety that they won’t measure up to some internalized standard of maternal perfection dictated by society ... There are enough novels about unreliable female narrators and neglectful mothers to fill a minivan ... But what makes it stand out from the rest is Audrain’s nuanced understanding of how women’s voices are discounted, how a thousand little slights can curdle a solid marriage and—in defiance of maternal taboos—how mothers really feel, sometimes, toward difficult children. Women who have experienced such trying circumstances, or even just imagined them, will see themselves depicted authentically, without the judgment and hand-wringing that so often accompanies typical genre fare. Just as satisfying was the buildup to the resolution ... These broader investigations make The Push more than a novel of suspense, the sum of its parts speaking to the burdens we all carry, whether we are mothers or simply children of women who did the best they could, however far their best efforts may have fallen short.
... blockbusting debut about the dark side of motherhood ... Well thought out, carefully crafted, vividly realised and gripping, this is a clever concept novel that manipulates and exploits the fears and insecurities almost every mother has, however happy her own childhood: the fear of otherness, and the illusion of motherhood as a great, beaming, muffin-baking club from which one is excluded ... The Push turbo-charges maternal anxieties with a fierce gothic energy that comes in part from the dark stories of Blythe’s antecedents and in part from the ever-present, primal fear of the Bad Mother ... Lacking the toxic sociological heft of Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk About Kevin, the book can sometimes feel exploitative and occasionally overwritten [...] but given the strong meat that is its subject matter, that is hardly surprising. To say that the ending left me flabbergasted and incensed would be an understatement, but this could well be Audrain’s intention. One of the messages she urgently conveys is, after all, that this reproduction business does not end simply, or easily – or, indeed, ever.
[A] tense, page-turning psychological drama about the making and breaking of a family and a woman whose experience of motherhood is nothing at all what she hoped for but everything she feared ... The Push is a shocking, deeply unsettling debut from Ashley Audrain and a story that will linger long after you put down the book. In the same vein as We Need to Talk About Kevin and The Bad Seed, this is a tale of the darker side of motherhood and the horror that comes from innocently, unwittingly, creating a monster ... t’s a story only a mother could tell; Audrain’s beautiful prose rings with truth ... Audrain has delivered one of the most female-focused thrillers yet, an unrelentingly bleak, stark story that pairs perfectly with the gray intensity of Winter 2020. Don’t pick up The Push unless you’re prepared to be pushed to the very edge—those that are, though, will find themselves breathlessly devouring Blythe’s tragedy in one or two sittings.
[A] stunning, compelling read, more than deserving of its pre-publication attention (and deals) ... The tone is ominous without being blatant ... the novel doesn’t unfold in any way the reader might anticipate ... Written with an unflinching eye and a stylistically sharp, tight economy The Push is a single-sitting read, as suspenseful as any thriller, as thoughtful as any literary novel, with an almost physical force behind each of its turns and revelations ... Audrain’s debut is a stunning, devastating novel and, frankly, one hell of a way to start a year of reading.
In the hands of the right storyteller, even the most compact novels can be works of great complexity ... a dazzling exercise in both economy of language and vividness of expression. Audrain’s grasp of Blythe’s inner life—her fears, her hopes, the details that linger in her mind— is so precise and mature that we get lost in this woman’s often troubling world. That feeling propels the novel forward at a blistering pace ... spellbinding ... The Push announces Audrain as a sophisticated, compelling writer, perfect for fans of thrillers and intimate family dramas alike.
... deft and immersive ... Audrain has a sharp ear for Mom’s playgroup conversations ... Unnerving, right? Or maybe unnervingly honest ... another iteration of the nature vs. nurture debate during a time when we’re more fixated than ever on the power of genes and the fates they inscribe. Whatever the sources of its larger cultural appeal, The Push is an ingenious reincarnation of that most forbidden of suspense narratives: the mommy-in-peril-from-her-own-monstrous-offspring.
Generations of conflicted mother-daughter relationships culminate with one unhappy woman and her possibly dangerous daughter in Canadian writer Audrain’s unnerving, cannily structured debut ... Both an absorbing thriller and an intense, profound look at the heartbreaking ways motherhood can go wrong, this is sure to provoke discussion.
Blythe Connor, the fraught narrator of Ashley Audrain's The Push, hails from a long line of what you might call maternal malpractice: distant, damaged women whose moods and preoccupations have become their unlucky daughters' legacy ... Audrain's book, propulsively scripted as it already reads on the page, should lend itself well to movie length (as did another novel it echoes, Lionel Shriver's We Need to Talk About Kevin) ... not just for literary intrigue but real, nightmarish resonance: mothers of invention till the end.
... emotionally devastating ... A tragedy precipitated by seven-year-old Violet is by no means the end of the twisty, harrowing ride to the dark side of motherhood Audrain pilots so skillfully. This is a sterling addition to the burgeoning canon of bad seed suspense, from an arrestingly original new voice.