cover image The Push

The Push

Ashley Audrain. Viking/Dorman, $26 (320p) ISBN 978-1-9848-8166-3

Growing up as the latest link in a long chain of toxic mother-daughter dyads, aspiring writer Blythe, the narrator of Audrain’s emotionally devastating debut, has no desire for parenthood herself, until she falls for gentle, supportive Fox Connor, who can’t imagine not having kids and convinces her otherwise. Daughter Violet’s birth three years later starts the clock ticking toward the implosion of the couple’s marriage. In the eyes of Fox, who is away most of the day at work, Violet’s an angel; to exhausted and overwhelmed Blythe, there’s something fundamentally wrong with the baby. Or is there? As Blythe worries over the years that Violet lacks normal feelings of empathy and affection, concerns that Fox keeps dismissing as only in her head, things continue to deteriorate until, desperate not to lose Fox, Blythe becomes pregnant again. Son Sam’s arrival blindsides her: to her astonishment, she loves Sam ecstatically. A tragedy precipitated by seven-year-old Violet is by no means the end of the twisty, harrowing ride to the dark side of motherhood Audrain pilots so skillfully. This is a sterling addition to the burgeoning canon of bad seed suspense, from an arrestingly original new voice. Agent: Madeleine Milburn, Madeleine Milburn Literary, TV & Film Agency.