My feelings regarding The Push are conflicted. It was a compulsive read – once I started I wanted to keep going. The story drove my interest, especially the way it unfolded, but author Ashely Audrain’s writing was a major draw as well.
Her prose is hypnotic with an edge. There is also a sadness throughout The Push; it has a heavy, oppressive mood. A late afternoon thunderstorm of a novel.
This is the story of Blythe, mother of Violet, daughter of Cecilia and granddaughter of Etta. It’s told mostly in the present day but goes back and forth in time, focusing on Blythe’s mother and grandmother. We get snippets and scenes that expose who they were, the choices they made, their efforts and failures. It’s heart wrenching at times.
Blythe grew up poor and with a poorly equipped mother. So naturally when she falls in love and marries she’s determined to give her child all the love and comfort she lacked. But the bond she expects doesn’t materialize with their baby. And sometimes she suspects something is off with Violet.
Time goes by and they have a son, Sam. Blythe bonds naturally with him and everything is perfect for a while. But then The Push takes a turn.
This book hits on so many levels – it’s a page-turning beach read and a statement on motherhood and mother’s intuition. It’s also a meditation on identity and family; the things we tolerate, the things we want to escape but are afraid we cannot.
So why am I feeling confused about The Push? I mean I devoured it and I believe that Audrain deserves all the press and hype she’s received. I definitely recommend it.
I think that in the end, despite the fantastic ending, I was left wanting more of Violet, her own stories and words alongside her foremothers. Just a little morsel more.
But that’s just me. This novel is a hit and Ashley Audrain is smart and talented and has a thing or two to say. I’ll be listening.
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