THE PUSH by Ashley Audrain
Talk about having hooks upon which to hang more hooks, Ashley Audrain’s, The Push, is a definitive master class in how to keep readers not only engaged, but actually hooked into what is going on, both plot wise, as well as with the characters. Through a series of flashbacks that overview the twisted history of Blythe, (the main character’s) ancestors – namely her grandmother and her mother – we come to understand the generational impact on us as children growing up. Because of what’s happened in that past, Blythe is reluctant to have children. But Fox, Blythe’s husband, charms her into it. The Push is an in-your-head narrative told in the first person, one that shines the spotlight on the worries of having a child that doesn’t seem quite right – could she really be evil- followed by the joys and relief that come with a second ‘more adjusted’ child. With that stage set, Audrain is only getting started. As I delved into the novel, I found myself at first cheering for Blythe and Fox as a couple, then feeling sorry for Blythe’s too common under-the-rug but not exactly post-partum condition, to her sense of unease around her first child, Violet’s behaviour, to the couple’s denial as to what was happening. Surely what Blythe saw didn’t in fact transpire. What I found most satisfying about The Push is that right to the last sentence Audrain had my attention, which has not always been the case with other psychological twisters.
Also, Audrain certainly knows how make a phrase resonate, to wit: Her toes were a row of tiny snow peas. Or, “We could count our problems on the petals of a daisy in my bouquet.” The publication of The Push, which was surrounded by more buzz than a bee farm, is Audrain’s debut novel. I would get in line to pre-order her second master piece. Cece M. Scott