Staff Pick: The Push by Ashley Audrain

TitleThe Push
Author: Ashley Audrain
Narrator: Marin Ireland

My goal for 2021 is to venture outside of my comfort zone with the audiobooks I listen to. Every year I say that I’m going to do this, but by the end of the year when recapping what I listened to, it’s all young adult, thrillers, and horror. What can I say, I like what I like.

So, in January I decided to take a little leap and jump into The Push by Ashley Audrain. Described as a psychological drama, this story follows Blythe Connor and her experience of motherhood. Blythe is excited for the arrival of her little girl, Violet, but soon comes to realize that something may be wrong with her new “bundle of joy.” Blythe’s husband, Fox, dismisses her worries and, as time goes on, Blythe begins to question her own sanity.

While I’m just a cat mom and haven’t spawned any human children at this point in my life (you’re welcome, world), I still found it so easy to relate to Blythe’s struggles with womanhood and her relationship with her own mother. At times, the audiobook was hard to listen to, but only because through Marin Ireland’s masterful narration, Blythe’s stress, hurt, and the pressure she felt were conveyed so well.

The second person narration of the story combined with the bite-sized chapters made this a propulsive listen that I couldn’t (and didn’t want to) pause. I was so invested in Blythe’s story that I just had to know how it all turned out.

If you’re a fan of We Need to Talk About Kevin, family dramas, or slow-burning thrillers, then you’ll definitely want to check out The Push for your next listen!

Publisher Summary:

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.

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STAFF PICK: 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari

Title: 21 Lessons for the 21st Century
Author: Yuval Noah Harari
Narrator: Derek Perkins

A mere half-decade ago, a brilliant albeit obscure Israeli professor of history took the literary world by storm. Published first in Hebrew in 2011 and translated into English in 2014, Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens transformed the history of humankind—a gargantuan topic in itself—into a household conversation piece. In 2016, Harari published a follow-up, Homo Deus, which extended the scope of Sapiens to examine the future of humankind. Now, he has turned his sights to the present with 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, which reflects on topical issues plaguing the here and now.

Harari poses some big questions in his introduction: “What are today’s greatest challenges and choices? What should we pay attention to? What should we teach our kids?” The book, broken into five sections that cover technology, politics, fear, truth, and resilience, attempt to examine the major forces that will influence the future of our planet. The scope of the book is huge, yet Harari acknowledges the lessons and issues he grapples with within 300 pages is not exhaustive of all that we could learn. Rather, 21 Lessons for the 21 Century is, as he puts it, a stepping stone to “help readers participate in some of the major conversations of our time.”

Harari delves into topics ranging from immigration to religion to artificial intelligence with eloquence and clarity. As was made clear in Sapiens and Homo Deus, the true mark of his talent as a scholarly writer is his ability to delineate information in an accessible and engaging manner. Much of the content builds on what he has discussed before in Sapiens and Homo Deus, so readers familiar with Harari’s previous works will recognize certain arguments and strands of thinking.

Derek Perkins is, as always, an exquisite narrator. If I close my eyes, I can almost imagine I am once again sitting in a grand lecture hall at university, listening to a particularly captivating professor muse about the predicament of our world. Perkins, without fail, manages to transform Harari’s words into a lively conversation.

21 Lessons for the 21st Century may not be an exhaustive book, but it is a crucial book for anyone who wishes to join the global conversation. Those who have read Harari’s previous works will not be disappointed, and those discovering him for the first time may well stumble upon a new favorite.


Read more and sample the audio.


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