Do you believe that motherhood is always a blissful experience? What if your experience is nothing like what you expected, and your child’s behavior is not what you imagined?
This is the dilemma faced by Blythe Connor in Ashley Audrain’s gripping thriller masterpiece, “The Push.”
As Blythe struggles to connect with her daughter Violet, she begins to question her own sanity, with her husband’s dismissive attitude only adding to her subtle doubts. But when their son Sam is born, everything changes, and Blythe finally experiences the mother-child bond she had always hoped for.
However, a sudden turn of events forces Blythe to confront the truth, and you are taken on a page-turning journey that challenges our beliefs about motherhood and the relationships we have with our children.
Get ready for an immersive and thought-provoking ride in this discussion guide, where I discuss some amazing book club questions for The Push where you will learn why it’s a must-read for anyone looking to explore the complexities of motherhood, family dynamics, and the overall human psyche.
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The Push Book Club Questions
- In my opinion, the significance of the book’s title, “The Push” may reflect Blythe’s growing sense of alienation and despair as she struggles with her marriage, her relationship with her daughter, and the trauma of Sam’s death. It can also reflect Blythe’s increasing doubts about her own memories and perceptions, as she questions whether her daughter was involved in Sam’s death and whether she has distorted or invented memories of her past.
What’s your take on this deduction?
- Blythe’s relationship with Gemma develops over the course of the book from a tentative friendship to a close bond that is ultimately shattered by Fox’s recognition of Blythe at a mother’s meetup.
Do you think this relationship with Gemma is a reflection of Blythe trying to form a new kind of cordial bond outside her troubled marriage, especially after her fraught relationship with her daughter?
- The novel’s use of the epistolary form, in which Blythe’s letters serve as the primary narrative, allows for a deep exploration of the story. The letters offer a raw and intimate look into Blythe’s thoughts and feelings, which allows us to understand her motivations and struggles in a way that would not be possible through a traditional narrative structure.
Do you agree?
- Blythe feels immense pressure to live up to her husband’s expectations of her as a mother, and her fear of repeating her mother’s mistakes leads her to react in damaging ways to her own children. Her story suggests that the pressures and expectations placed on women who become mothers can be damaging and that breaking free from inherited patterns is difficult but necessary for personal growth and healing.
Discuss the concept of motherhood based on the above paragraph.
- Blythe’s suspicion of Fox’s infidelity plays a significant role in the breakdown of their marriage. Although Fox never admits to cheating, Blythe becomes increasingly convinced that he is having an affair, and when she confronts him about it, he says nothing, confirming her suspicions.
Coming to infidelity, what’s your take on why this happens? Also, would you like to share your bad stories about any particular incident of infidelity?
- In the early years of Violet’s life, Blythe experiences anxiety and sleeplessness, and she resents Violet’s apparent preference for her father over her mother. As Violet grows older, she exhibits violent tendencies that Fox dismisses as boredom but that Blythe seems to recognize as a potential problem. After Sam’s death, Blythe becomes increasingly convinced that Violet was somehow involved, and she grows more and more distant from her daughter.
Discuss how Blythe’s relationship with Violet evolves from a difficult and fraught one to an even more distant and alienated one.
- Blythe’s traumatic childhood makes her hesitant to have a child because of her fear of repeating the cycle of maternal trauma in her family. At the same time, her perverse enjoyment in making decisions that she believes other mothers would not make reflected her desire to assert control over her own life and her child’s as well.
A traumatic childhood can have a huge impact on our future, just like it did with Blythe. Do you agree? Do you know any other books where the primary character shares a similar fate?
- Blythe struggles with whether Violet’s difficulties are a result of her own emotional neglect as an infant or whether they are innate traits. The story leaves room for doubt as to whether Violet actually pushed Sam’s stroller into the street, and it is unclear whether her violent tendencies are a result of her upbringing or simply a part of her personality.
Discuss how this novel presents a complex exploration of the nature versus nurture debate, particularly in regard to Violet’s character and upbringing.
- Seb’s refusal to support Cecilia’s decision to have an abortion is an example of how patriarchal control can lead to women being forced into motherhood against their will. Seb’s motivation for refusing to support Cecilia’s decision is not ideological or religious but rather an exercise of control.
Do you think this demonstrates how patriarchal norms can lead men to exert control over women’s reproductive choices?
- Fox’s dismissive attitude towards Blythe’s struggles as a mother contributes to her feelings of inadequacy. By refusing to recognize the difficulties she is facing and the ways in which she is struggling, he is contributing to the societal pressure that expects mothers to be perfect irrespective of the problems they face at all times.
In simple words, Fox was a non-supportive partner. Discuss how having a non-supportive partner can affect your life in ways one cannot even imagine.
- The unreliability of memory creates a sense of ambiguity and uncertainty for a reader as they try to piece together the events of the novel. You must question the accuracy of Blythe’s memories and impressions and consider how her biases and fears may be affecting her interpretation of events. This adds to the suspense of the novel and forces you, as a reader, to actively engage with the text to try and make sense of what is happening.
Discuss, with particular references to certain events in the novel.
- After reading the novel, you can conclude that patriarchal norms often lead to a double standard in the way society views and judges mothers compared to fathers. Mothers are expected to be nurturing, selfless, and responsible for the emotional well-being of their children. Fathers, on the other hand, are often given more leeway and are not held to the same high standards of emotional caretaking.
Do you agree?
If you liked this book, here are few other options for you to explore:
The Sum of Us: Heather McGhee explores the connection between racism and America’s failing economy. Through personal stories and research, she reveals how racism harms not only people of color but also white Americans in this very land of dreams.
The Guest List: A wedding on a remote Irish island turns deadly when a guest is found murdered. Dark secrets, resentments, and hidden motives come to light, leaving everyone wondering who wanted the happy couple dead and why.
The Rose Code: In the heart of World War II, three remarkable women join forces at Bletchley Park, where love, secrets, and betrayal intertwine. Now, years later, they must decode the past and face a common enemy that threatens to tear their fragile bond apart once more.
The Reading List: In the heartwarming streets of London, a chance encounter with a list of books brings together widower Mukesh and anxious teen Aleisha. As they embark on a literary journey, these unlikely friends find solace, joy, and a lifeline amidst grief, forging an unforgettable connection through the power of stories.
This Tender Land: In the scorching summer of 1932, Odie and Albert, two white outcasts at a cruel Native American school, embark on a daring escape with Mose and Emmy. Their journey through a vast and troubled America promises adventure, redemption, and the power of an untamed land.