The Push: A Novel - book cover
  • Publisher : Penguin Books; Reprint edition
  • Published : 04 Jan 2022
  • Pages : 336
  • ISBN-10 : 198488168X
  • ISBN-13 : 9781984881687
  • Language : English

The Push: A Novel

A Good Morning America Book Club Pick | A New York Times bestseller!

"Utterly addictive." -Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train

"Hooks you from the very first page and will have you racing to get to the end."-Good Morning America

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-and everything she feared

Blythe Connor is determined that she will be the warm, comforting mother to her new baby Violet that she herself never had.

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.

Editorial Reviews

A Most Anticipated Book of the Year by Entertainment Weekly, Marie Claire, AARP, CrimeReads, Lit Hub, and Newsweek

As seen in The Washington Post, USA Today, Good Housekeeping, goop, Refinery29, Woman's Day, Working Mother, New York Post, and more

Praise for The Push:

"[A] deft and immersive thriller… The Push is an ingenious reincarnation of that most forbidden of suspense narratives: the mommy-in-peril-from-her-own-monstrous-offspring."
- Maureen Corrigan, The Washington Post

"There are enough novels about unreliable female narrators and neglectful mothers to fill a minivan… But what makes [The Push] 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."
- Los Angeles Times

"What happens when a mother doesn't love her daughter? Audrain's debut is a tense, chilling dip into the dark side of motherhood, narrated by Blythe, whose own upbringing raises the question: Can one inherit an inability to parent? The Push is uncomfortable and provocative, like a train wreck that demands your gaze."
- The Washington Post

"This taut and tense hurricane of a debut is best devoured in one sitting."
- Newsweek

"Fans of psychological thrillers, crack open this one about the relationship between mothers and daughters."
- Good Housekeeping

"A chilling page-turner that asks provocative questions."
- Real Simple

"A thrilling debut."
- Harper's Bazaar

"Well thought out, carefully crafted, vividly realised and gripping... The Push turbo-charges maternal anxieties with a fierce gothic energy."
- The Guardian

"Taut, chilling….Audrain has a gift for capturing the seemingly small moments that speak volumes about relationships."
- The New York Times Book Review

"Hooks you from the very first page and will have you racing to get to the end."
- Good Morning America

"A psychological thriller that will make you question everything you know about motherhood."
- Bitch

"A chilling psychological look at the dark, uncomfortable parts of motherhood and a provocative page turner."
- theSkimm

"This book should come with a warning...

Readers Top Reviews

Enjoyed the plot, but the length of the chapters was somewhat annoying. Is it necessary to have 80+ chapters in a 300 page book? Seems excessive. The character of Violet was written very well, so well it made me intensely dislike her! Fox, Blythe’s husband was unsupportive in regards to the children, and blamed his wife for Violet’s behaviour, which is extremely unfair (considering his illicit affair). Didn’t care deeply for any of the characters, but could empathise for Blythe who has a difficult and sinister daughter. I expected to like this book a lot more, but I still think it is a strong debut novel, and would recommend to people who enjoy a dark, thrilling and complex storyline.
Nicky 6
Amazing book. I read this in two days giving up sleep, I will have to read this 100 times to work out if mother Blythe is mentally ill and paranoid, or if her worries re her daughter are true. To work out if her Daughters behaviour (if it’s real) is due to the trauma of having a mother that’s not bonded with you, or a Father that’s detached too in his own selfish way, or both. Or if it’s hereditary. Same for the mother. Then the push, The push in the centre of the book, the heart rippingly tragic one- was it one of them, or an accident? I honestly will never know the answers this book works all ways. It’s an incredible read. Amazing. Shivering now thinking about it.
Disquieting but compulsive read, The Push asks a very sinister What If about the relationship between mother and child. I’m not going to reveal anymore of the plot other than to say it gripped me from beginning to end and although deeply unsettling it never felt too much to bear thanks to the exquisite writing and the central character Blythe. It will stay with me for a long time.
Oh, that wasn't fun. Probably shouldn't have read it 4 months postpartum with my second child... "The Push" narrated in a semi-fluid second-person point of view, follows Blythe and her daughter and son. Her daughter might be a maniacal killer, or Blythe might just be incredibly mentally unstable, or both. I don't know, so many levels here: how to be a mom when you didn't have a good mom, how to be a mom when you yourself are mentally unreliable, how to be a mom to a maniacal killer (or not?), how to be a mom to dead children...It's almost too much for the postpartum mind. Maybe another year, another time of my life I could give it a more fair shot. --

Short Excerpt Teaser


You slid your chair over and tapped my textbook with the end of your pencil and I stared at the page, hesitant to look up. "Hello?" I had answered you like a phone call. This made you laugh. And so we sat there, giggling, two strangers in a school library, studying for the same elective subject. There must have been hundreds of students in the class-I had never seen you before. The curls in your hair fell over your eyes and you twirled them with your pencil. You had such a peculiar name. You walked me home later in the afternoon and we were quiet with each other. You didn't hide how smitten you were, smiling right at me every so often; I looked away each time. I had never experienced attention like that from anyone before. You kissed my hand outside my dorm and this made us laugh all over again.

Soon we were twenty-one and we were inseparable. We had less than a year left until we graduated. We spent it sleeping together in my raft of a dorm bed, and studying at opposite ends of the couch with our legs intertwined. We'd go out to the bar with your friends, but we always ended up home early, in bed, in the novelty of each other's warmth. I barely drank, and you'd had enough of the party scene-you only wanted me. Nobody in my world seemed to mind much. I had a small circle of friends who were more like acquaintances. I was so focused on maintaining my grades for my scholarship that I didn't have the time or the interest for a typical college social life. I suppose I hadn't grown very close to anyone in those years, not until I met you. You offered me something different. We slipped out of the social orbit and were happily all each other needed.

The comfort I found in you was consuming-I had nothing when I met you, and so you effortlessly became my everything. This didn't mean you weren't worthy of it-you were. You were gentle and thoughtful and supportive. You were the first person I'd told that I wanted to be a writer, and you replied, "I can't imagine you being anyone else." I reveled in the way girls looked at us, like they had something to be jealous about. I smelled your head of waxy dark hair while you slept at night and traced the line of your fuzzy jaw to wake you up in the morning. You were an addiction.

For my birthday, you wrote down one hundred things you loved about me. 14. I love that you snore a little bit right when you fall asleep. 27. I love the beautiful way you write. 39. I love tracing my name on your back. 59. I love sharing a muffin with you on the way to class. 72. I love the mood you wake up in on Sundays. 80. I love watching you finish a good book and then hold it to your chest at the end. 92. I love what a good mother you'll be one day.

"Why do you think I'll be a good mother?" I put down the list and felt for a moment like maybe you didn't know me at all.

"Why wouldn't you be a good mother?" You poked me playfully in the belly. "You're caring. And sweet. I can't wait to have little babies with you."

There was nothing to do but force myself to smile.

I'd never met someone with a heart as eager as yours.

One day you'll understand, Blythe. The women in this family . . . we're different.

I can still see my mother's tangerine lipstick on the cigarette filter. The ash falling into the cup, swimming in the last sip of my orange juice. The smell of my burnt toast.

You only asked about my mother, Cecilia, on a few occasions. I told you only the facts: (1) she left when I was eleven years old, (2) I only ever saw her twice after that, and (3) I had no idea where she was.

You knew I was holding back more, but you never pressed-you were scared of what you might hear. I understood. We're all entitled to have certain expectations of each other and of ourselves. Motherhood is no different. We all expect to have, and to marry, and to be, good mothers.


Etta was born on the very same day World War II began. She had eyes like the Atlantic Ocean and was red-faced and pudgy from the beginning.

She fell in love with the first boy she ever met, the town doctor's son. His name was Louis, and he was polite and well spoken, not common among the boys she knew, and he wasn't the type to care that Etta hadn't been born with the luck of good looks. Louis walked Etta to school with one hand behind his back, from their very first day of school to their last. And Etta was charmed by things like that.

Her family owned hundreds of acres of cornfields. When Etta turned eighteen and told her father she wanted to marry Louis, he insisted his new son-in-law had to learn how to farm. He had no sons of his own, and he w...