THE PUSH by Ashley Audrain
Author: Ashley Audrain
Read: February 2021
Expected publication: out now
My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟1/2
Blythe Connor is determined that she
will be the warm, comforting mother to her new baby Violet that she herself
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.
The Push is a tour de force you will read in a sitting, an utterly
immersive novel that will challenge everything you think you know about
motherhood, about what we owe our children, and what it feels like when women
are not believed.
I am emotionally destroyed right now! This book
broke my heart into a million pieces, and freaked me out a bit as well. THE
PUSH definitely had some WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN vibes, one of the most
disturbing books I have ever read. Nature vs nurture, motherhood, marriage, the
legacy of abuse and neglect, it was all there. presented in Audrain’s modern tale
that swept me along in a tide of dread and suspense. The undercurrent of menace
and danger was so strong at times that I almost had to put the book down to
give myself a break, and yet couldn’t tear myself away.
I can see why this book got so many
rave reviews and hype on social media. Short and punchy chapters and multiple
POVs make THE PUSH a fast and compulsive read. “Just one more chapter” seems
doable, until you realise you’ve read twenty of them and it’s long after
midnight and you still can’t put the book down. Blythe’s voice will resonate
with mothers everywhere, because motherhood is not all milk and honey and rose
tinted glasses. It’s often hard work, and can seem exhausting and thankless.
used to care about me as a person—my happiness, the things that made me thrive.
Now I was a service provider. You didn’t see me as a woman. I was just the
mother of your child.”
It’s even tougher if you have never
experienced the loving, nurturing side of motherhood when growing up, and
neither Blythe nor her mother Cecilia have lived happy childhoods. The legacy
of Etta’s abuse and neglects continues with Cecilia’s indifference towards her
daughter Blythe, and in turn, with Blythe’s difficulties in bonding with
Violet. Blythe’s voice, told entirely in the second person as she is speaking
to her husband Fox, is open and often brutally honest when it comes to
discussing the difficulties of motherhood.
Most mothers will remember that
first moment of holding their first newborn, but from here the journey can be
vastly different. What if you don’t immediately fall in love with your child?
What if motherhood seems like a constant struggle, and yet everyone else around
you seems to be sailing through it and loving the journey? What if you have no
one to talk to about your real feelings, your fears, the heavy weight of
expectations crushing you? What if your partner does not understand any of your
concerns, and you feel your marriage slowly disintegrating under the strain?
And worst of all, what if you’re afraid of your own child and what you think
them to be capable of, but everyone else dismisses your concerns? There are so
many topics Audrain touches on in her novel, and I related to quite a few of
them. But most of all, I was quickly sucked into the maelstrom of ever mounting
dread and danger as the story progressed. With good reason, because the heartbreak that
followed left me totally drained and hollow.
mother’s heart breaks a million ways in her lifetime.”
In summary, Audrain’s book was so much more than
the psychological thriller I had expected. If her examination of the different
faces of motherhood was not enough, there is also the whole nature vs nurture
debate and of course the one question that will remain on your lips as you turn
the last page – which I will not mention here because I am not going to spoil
this for you. Just go and read THE PUSH today, you won’t regret it. It’s honest,
it’s gritty and it’s deeply disturbing. I freaking loved it!
THE FOUR WINDS by Kristin Hannah
Title: THE FOUR WINDS
Author: Kristin Hannah
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Read: February 2021
Expected publication: out now
My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟1/2
Texas, 1934. Millions are out of
work and a drought has broken the Great Plains. Farmers are fighting to keep
their land and their livelihoods as the crops are failing, the water is drying
up, and dust threatens to bury them all. One of the darkest periods of the
Great Depression, the Dust Bowl era, has arrived with a vengeance.
In this uncertain and dangerous time, Elsa Martinelli—like so many of her
neighbors—must make an agonizing choice: fight for the land she loves or go
west, to California, in search of a better life. The Four Winds is an
indelible portrait of America and the American Dream, as seen through the eyes
of one indomitable woman whose courage and sacrifice will come to define a
What an utterly captivating, heart-wrenching story
this was! It’s been a while since I devoured a big book in a couple of
sittings, totally neglecting reality because I felt transported into the world
of my fictional characters.
Ever since reading Steinbeck’s THE
GRAPES OF WRATH, I have been fascinated with the era of the Great Depression in
fiction. There is something about people overcoming hardship and adversity that
always speaks to me as a reader and inspires me, and this could not come at a
better time than during a global pandemic. It is also a reality check, because
compared to Elsa Martinelli’s problems, mine appear miniscule in comparison!
Elsa Martinelli is the kind of
strong female character who drives a story. Battling her whole life with
adversity, she is yet determined to overcome all odds through sheer hard work
and courage. Strangely, Elsa does not think of herself as courageous, even as
she slaves away day and night through drought conditions and dust storms to keep
her kids fed and clothes. Or when her husband up and leaves the family,
abandoning Elsa to fend for herself and her children. Or when she has to uproot
her family to travel to the other side of the country in search of a better
future and to save her son’s life – a woman on her own in a time when women
were only viewed as fit to care for the household, not make heroic journeys in
dangerous conditions in the hope for a better future. Elsa is representative of
all the tough women of the depression era, keeping their kids fed and clothed
and putting on a brave face - an inspiration to anyone who has ever doubted
their own resilience. And even when I wanted to yell at her at times and tell
her to just think of her own needs for once and see her own worth, she was
always the constant force driving the book towards its finale. The best thing
was to watch Elsa grow as a woman – from a young girls with little confidence
and self-worth, to wife and mother still striving to be loved, to fierce mumma
lion when her kids’ lives were at stake.
“It wasn’t the fear that mattered in
life. It was the choices made when you were afraid. You were brave because of
your fear, not in spite of it.”
If you feel slightly intimidated by
the book’s whopping 464 pages, let me assure you that I would happily have read
464 more to keep following the Martinelli family on their journey. As inspiring
as the fictional characters were, as valuable was the rest of the story as a
history lesson. From the terrible fate of the farmers in the dust bowl during
the lean years of the 1930s, to the way the “land of milk and honey” treated
the migrants flocking west for a better life. History repeats itself, and there
are many parallels to be drawn to present times, which make the story even more
As the story progressed, I went
through a whole palette of emotions: I laughed, I cried, I was livid with
outrage. At the end, I was an emotional wreck, and yet did not want the book to
end. The only thing I usually find a bit over the top with KH books is the
melodrama towards the end of her novels, and if you read this one you will know
it when you get there. It didn’t take away my overall reading pleasure though,
and I guess it did allow the story to end where it did.
All in all, THE FOUR WINDS was the type of
historical fiction I love, with an atmospheric setting and true to life
characters that allowed for time travel to another era. It was a story I got
totally lost in, and I loved the journey even though it ripped my heart out and
ground it into the dirt until I was an emotional wreck. Lovers of historical
fiction or books with courageous, compelling female characters should definitely
not miss this one!
you to Netgalley and Pan Macmillan for the free electronic copy of this novel and
for giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review.