The Push

Pamela Dorman: Viking. Jan. 2021. 320p. ISBN 9781984881663. $26. F
DEBUT Three generations of women deal with motherhood in this dark debut. Blythe’s mother, Cecelia, left when she was 11 years old, and Blythe decides she shouldn’t have children, as Cecelia wasn’t a good role model. Their toxic relationship pales in comparison with Cecelia’s relationship with her mother, Etta. Fox, Blythe’s gentle husband of three years, persuades her that it is time to have a baby. But Blythe can’t connect with their daughter, Violet, although Fox is immediately enamored. As Blythe sinks into depression, Fox is convinced that she just doesn’t love the baby enough. Blythe sees behavioral issues in Violet that increase as the girl starts school, but Fox turns a blind eye. Then Blythe has a son, Sam, and her maternal feelings for him are real and deep. Things still aren’t good with Violet, though, or with the marriage, and a tragic accident causes Blythe and Fox’s relationship to implode. This is not your typical tale of motherhood, and the superlative writing results in a gripping, unforgettable story.
VERDICT For readers who enjoyed the darkness of Oyinkan Braithwaite’s My Sister, the Serial Killer, Ottessa Moshfegh’s Eileen, or Joyce Carol Oates’s Jack of Spades.
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