The Push ― Ashley Audrain ― “A mother’s heart breaks a million ways in her lifetime.”

“The Push is so bitter that it sweet when reading it.”

Inkish Kingdoms

In The Push, Ashley Audrain triumphs by showing her outstandingly skillful and bold writing. Audrain manufactures a crucial story of how society has been driving a toxic message of how motherhood is the pinnacle of womanhood, how women have to push every moment of their lives, and how gaslighting has become the first-born of the idealization of what being a mother is.

Blythe, The Push protagonist, struggles in multiple scenarios that corners her as a mediocre and ungrateful mother. Her husband, like many other characters, belittles Blythe for her difficulties at being a mother. These characters state that Blythe should be honored and grateful for being a mother. Other mothers remind her of how being a mother pays off, how this is the best job and how all the difficulties are worth it. Blythe’s marriage drastically morphed when she realized that she did not want or was ready to be a mother. Society advertises motherhood and marriages as blissfully rewarding events, but, someitmes, the product diverges from reality. The novel delivers a message that not every woman wants to be a mother, and not every woman needs to be one. The author displays how motherhood might dehumanize women, how maternity strips women from their dreams and hopes since they have to relinquish everything for their offspring, and the other mothers, who represent the collective unconscious, judge her and force her to keep on pushing through.

I read The Push and I insist that motherhood should be optional.

The concept of pushing gives momentum to the story. Blythe started pushing when she gave birth and continued pushing herself to eat, to keep her sanity, to save her marriage, to find her strength. Blythe pushes, dreaming that everything will get better. She is a mother, a wife, and, lastly, a woman; who has to keep on trying the rest of her life without realizing that the only way out was to stop pushing. Ashley Audrain juxtaposes both roles: where the mother, wife, and woman has to press forward, and the man, father, husband has an easy way out by not dealing with the responsibility. He does not have to give up on his life. He can move on by himself and by pressuring Blythe to push for them. Ironically, the lack of self accountably gave birth to another malicious child that manipulates the protagonist by forcing her to question her thoughts, memories, and the traumatizing events that ruined her life.

Gaslighting has become the new child of society that rathers blame the rest for their own sake. Blythe is a victim of a system that forces her to believe that every woman should be a mother and a good one. She is a victim of psychological violence when her husband blames her for their problems for not pushing and not trying hard enough. The husband, ironically called Fox, decides not to believe her, and he hides the truth from her. He makes her feel like a crazy, derange, and unstable person and that everything is in her imagination. Other mothers and authorities do not believe her, and when they see it for themselves, they decide to ignore it as if it never happened. In these lines, the author challenges the readers to open their eyes and stop believing in the stereotypical inherent goodness of children, the illogical belief that all women should and want to be mothers, and that motherhood is the only way to accomplish wholeness.

The Push is literal, and Ashley Audrain analyzes through psychology and fiction a reality many women face. Motherhood does not substitute womanhood, and Blythe explicitly says so “you used to care about me as a person—my happiness, the things that made me thrive. Now I was a service provider. You didn’t see me as a woman. I was just the mother of your child.” The crudeness of this statement is terrifying because many husbands stop seeing their wives as women, and, sadly, Fox reinforces this belief when he sees an easy way out to all his problems instead of pressing forward.

Motherhood does not replace professional fulfillment. Women should not give up on themselves, their lives, and their aspirations when one is not willing to do the same. Compulsively readable, The Push will exceed any expectations and encourages discussions for your book club.

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