The Push

The Push

‘Is she – was she with Johnno?’ said Erica.

‘It doesn’t work like that,’ Trish said. ‘Not like boyfriend and girlfriend stuff, as I’ve been trying to tell you. It’s more – fluid.’

Erica is restless for a life outside her office job, her boring boyfriend and her mother’s tiny house in down-and-out Glebe.

In the 1950s, Sydney is quickly building a reputation for sinfulness, and some of the most attractively sinful people are to be found in a group known as the Push. They meet regularly to discuss their wicked ideas at the Royal George, and Erica is drawn into the captivating crowd.

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Reviews

A premier exploration of the vague boundary between young adult and adult novels. – Ian Nichols, The West Weekend Magazine, 30 August 2008.

This is a fascinating work which evokes the historical setting of early 50s Sydney, via an 18-year-old girl’s introduction to ‘The Push’. It’s also a subtle exploration of the emotional pull between freedom and commitment. This is a riveting narrative in both its subtle ambiguity concerning character and motivation and for its skilful capture of 1950s Australia with such an unerring accuracy. It details one of those pivotal times (like the 1960s and the ‘flower children’ movement), in Australian society, except that the ideas of The Push were the often unacknowledged precursor to flower power. This little minority group in Sydney was experimenting with political, social and sexual freedom in the context of a very hidebound society. Erica’s friendship with Trish, Vanessa and Johnny will change her life forever. The writer makes no judgments but shows how her protagonist is drawn into this daring group and will have to make many sacrifices if she is to survive within it. The ending is left open and offers many resonances for teenagers today confronting similar choices. – 2008 Queensland Premier’s Literary Award judging panel.

Lawrinson has done a wonderful job with the characters, Erica’s wild and clever friend Trish, the opportunistic Johnno and most of all Erica’s sour-hearted mother Ivy are beautifully drawn and instantly recognisable character types. – Sydney Morning Herald.

Julia Lawrinson … deftly tackles middleclass snobbery and mother/daughter relationships. She successfully pits the conservative mores of the ’50s against the allure of the intellectualising students and slackers who were more interested in a well-reasoned debate about communism than in getting married, working and selling their souls for a mortgage. The Push is also good at portraying the limited possibilities for women in that conservative era, with Erica breaking all the rules. Oh, the frisson of excitement that comes from smoking, drinking and wearing trousers in a public bar! – The Age.

Compelling. The Sunday Age.

The Push is a gentle book and its portrait of the convention-challenging libertarians is essentially positive. Michael Wilding, The Weekend Australian.

A marvellously well I written coming-of-age novel set in Sydney in the late 1950s. Each chapter opens with a quotation from a health pamphlet on how to deal with the pressures of adolescence, underscoring the pressures on young women to conform. Erica, 18, is keen to avoid convention but she’s stuck in an office typing pool. She’s attracted to the fiIthy glamour of Kings Cross and falls in with a bunch of hedonistic ratbags swaggering around Sydney’s pubs and racecourses: the Push. In a word: punchy. Herald Sun.

Lawrinson writes with an admirable fluidity. The historical detail situating the novel in the fifties is gently woven into the body of the text and is never over-laboured. Her descriptions of inner-Sydney bring to mind Ruth Park’s The Harp in the South (1948), Elizabeth Emmanuel.

The Push is a well-researched document of Sydney in the 1950s [and] a good introduction to a fascinating and largely untapped era full of complex and interesting characters. Chris Thompson, Viewpoint.