As you probably already know, I am obsessed with my Book of the Month subscription. My addiction has gotten infinitely “worse” (I would say “more devoted,” my husband would disagree with this word choice) since I discovered the Facebook groups dedicated to buying, selling, and swapping book selections. So, I get one book every month with my subscription, and I can add on up to 2 more books (for $9.99 EACH–yes, brand new hardbacks!)
The above has resulted in a much larger TBR pile, a depleted bank account, and a very happy booknerd. In these Facebook groups, I kept seeing The Push by Ashley Audrain pop up. Everyone was looking for it, and BOTM had sold out of it (something I hadn’t seen before). I read the summary and knew I had to get my hands on this book. But after a week, this impatient book lover caved and spent the $16 to buy it on Amazon (no regrets).
So I just finished this book and….wow. Just, wow. I’ve now read 2 5-star rated books (by me) in a row (my last read was The House in the Cerulean Sea), and the pressure is on for my next read (TBD, my TBR pile is huge and my options are endless).
Summary: Blythe Connor is determined to be a different–better–mother than the one she grew up with. Reluctantly and gently shoved into motherhood by her husband, Fox, and wanting to fulfill his dreams of fatherhood, Blythe strives to be the affectionate, dedicated mother she never had. But Blythe struggles to forge a connection with her daughter, Violet. From the moment she is born, she prefers Fox over Blythe. As time goes on, Blythe is convinced there is something wrong with Violet. Several disturbing incidents with Violet leave Blythe wondering if her own matriarchal genes are to blame. Fox refuses to entertain the notion that something may be amiss with Violet.
And then, Sam is born: an easy-to-love little boy that Blythe feels instantly connected to. She is determined to do things right with Sam, and make up for anywhere she fell short in mothering Violet. But in the blink of an eye, Blythe’s entire world is turned upside down and she starts a years-long journey to discover who Violet really is, who Blythe really is, and look into the line of tortured women they both came from.
My Thoughts: I was prepared for this book to stun me, but the turn this book took quickly threw me for a loop. I couldn’t put this book down. Ashley Audrain fearlessly illustrates the raw, honest details of motherhood that your pre-or-non-childbearing girlfriends are too uncomfortable to hear. Through Blythe, Audrain explores the question of nature vs. nurture. How much of Violet’s personality and behavior was determined by her genes? How much was determined by Blythe’s mothering, or lack thereof? As a mom, I both reeled from Blythe’s recoiling from Violet, and also shared her rage over the events that unfolded. When Blythe lets Violet scream in her crib for hours on end so she can write again and feel some sense of control, my chest felt tight. I couldn’t imagine letting my baby cry like that (I’m also a huge pansy who could never do the cry-it-out method because I would cry harder than the baby).
As the story progressed and Violet’s true nature unfolded, I never doubted that Blythe had accurately pinned Violet’s character. She knew her for who she really was, despite Fox’s insistence that Blythe was imagining things. Fox thought Blythe was scarred from her neglected childhood, when in reality she just knew such awfulness could exist in people from her own experiences with her mother, and her mother’s experiences with her grandmother.
Conclusion: This was a 5-star read for me. I love Audrain’s grit and honesty–there isn’t enough of that in the world, that straightforward, give-you-the-details-even-if-they-make-you-uncomfortable type of story-telling. I dig it. She paints a picture of motherhood most of us don’t want to accept is possible, and she paints it well. While I couldn’t relate personally to Blythe’s feelings of disconnect with Violet or her hesitation about motherhood, Blythe encompasses the uncertainty that motherhood can and will bring to all mothers at some point in their mothering journey. I highly recommend this read!