The Picky Bookworm

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The Push by Claire McGowan Book Review

Have you ever received a book recommendation from someone and you just KNEW the book was going to be a favorite? That’s what happened to me and The Push by Claire McGowan. When I received an email from Netgalley, one of my favorite places to get ARCs for review, I read the synopsis and immediately had to request it.

I love “whodunnit” books, with several twists and turns, so I wasn’t able to tell what happened until almost the last page.

I love that.

Excerpt from The Push by Claire McGowan

The babies all look the same. They lie in a circle on a patterned rug, heads in, legs fanning out like a star. They will grow up to be so different; some rich some poor, some happy some sad, some hearty some sickly Their lives will be determined by the jobs of their parents, the street where they live, their skin color, their gender. But for now they are the same, despite the different skin tones and disparity in the cost of their clothes. Chubby blank canvasses, for the world to stamp its print on.

It is Monica’s idea to take the picture, of course. Her clamouring Instagram followers need to be fed. She calls it a flat lay, only with children instead of books and cups of coffee and flowers. Some of the group don’t want their babies in the shot – Hazel raises an objection, we didn’t want his picture online yet, and Aaron surprises them all with his dislike of social media, and at his age too! But Monica rides roughshod over them all, and so the babies in their blue and pink and yellow are arranged and the shot is taken, and Instagrammed and Facebooked and hashtagged, out there forever in the world, the children at two weeks old appearing in more digital impressions than recent ancestors would have in their lifetimes.

The picture was taken at 2:35 p.m., the timestamp helpfully showed. the police would later have the task of trawling through every image taken that day, which was a lot. By 3:02 p.m., the murder had taken place, though of course it would be some time before they could even prove that’s what it was.

My Thoughts

The Push definitely made it onto my list of favorites of 2020, even though I probably won’t be able to re-read it for a couple years. Now that I know what happened, I feel like I need to give myself a break until I can kinda sorta forget what happened and who did it.

Luckily, this book had several twists, because that helped it’s not being horribly predictable. Right when I thought I knew what was going on, and even who died, something would twist and I’d be confused again. This confusion made me stick with the book, because I HAD to know what happened!

Several couples have joined an “antenatal” group, led by a woman named Nina. This group is kind of like our “Lamaze” classes here in the US, or birthing classes. The leader teaches basics like baby care, CPR for infants, and first aid. The book is told in 2 different timelines, through several points of view of members from the antenatal group. The chapters are labeled in such a way that I always knew who was narrating, and when the story was taking place. I really appreciated the author doing that. I read a book earlier this year that didn’t do that, and I almost threw the book out the window.

The Characters

I have to admit, I disliked Nina from the beginning, though I wasn’t entirely sure why. It might be because Jax, one of the main storytellers, disliked her. 

I liked Jax.

Jax is 38 and pregnant, even though she shouldn’t have been able to have a baby. She also doubts her own ability to be a mom, which makes her relatable. She isn’t one of those people who thinks she’s going to be perfect from the beginning, like Monica.

I disliked Monica.

Monica is over 40, pregnant for the second time, and is determined to rub everyone’s face in the fact that she knows what she’s doing, and is going to be the perfect mom.

One other character I really liked was Alison. She’s a detective in charge of the case, and she’s the only one who doesn’t believe that it was all an accident. Alison is also invested in the case, because she’s had several failed fertility treatments, and resents the new parents just a bit. I’ve felt like that before, so I got it. It wasn’t easy for Alison to be around the new parents, but she made it work, and was able to do her job, and find a new friend in the meantime.

The Writing

I think I’ve finally gotten used to British writing, because I didn’t find anything that I had to get used to. This book is set in London, I think, and while the book does feature some language uses that are distinctly British, I didn’t feel confused or frustrated like I have with other books.

Look at me, I’m growing!

My Favorite Parts

My favorite parts of the book were when Jax was narrating. She was so relatable, and I didn’t feel like throwing a vase at her. Jax definitely made mistakes, especially in her relationship with her partner, Aaron, but she didn’t let herself wallow in self-pity for long. She made her bed, and she was determined to lay in it and make it work.

My Least Favorite Parts

Monica drove me crazy. You’ll see what I mean when you read the book. She is a little bonkers, and determined to be perfect at everything, even though she’s anything but perfect. She’s all about how things look on the outside, even when the inside is a dumpster fire.


I definitely recommend this book, especially if you enjoy murder mysteries with a twist. The Push definitely had twists and turns, which made it unpredictable and fun. It’s a fairly easy read, one which I was able to finish in just a couple days, even staying up late one night to finish it, because I HAD to KNOW what was going to happen! I related with several of the characters, even though some of them made me want to throw things and drink a lot. Claire, the author, was able to create such different characters, and make almost all of them relatable. I felt like I hated who I was supposed to hate, and I loved who I was supposed to love. If you haven’t read this book, I recommend you do so soon.

What did you think of The Push? Let me know in the comments below! You can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, so we can continue the conversation there! I’d love to discuss books and other nerdy things with you! Don’t forget to subscribe here, so you are always updated on new posts, and check out my Picky Bookworm store, for fun gifts and books! I always put a link in my shop for the books I review, to make it easy for you to find it to purchase. The links are affiliate, so I get a small commission through your purchase.

Until next time, bookworms!

For further Reading:

Ninth House Book Review


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