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Hot Springs Drive


Hot Springs Drive

For Theresa Linden and Jackie Stinson, becoming a mother coincided with becoming friends. Jackie already had two young sons when she went into the hospital to give birth to Jayson, but for Theresa, CeCe was her first. The two women struck up a fast friendship in the maternity ward, with Theresa eager to drink up Jackie’s words of wisdom as well as her been-there-done-that air of confidence.

When a house went up for sale right next door to where Theresa and Adam live, Theresa encouraged Jackie and her husband, Nick, to put in an offer. When they did, the women became even closer. For over a decade and a half, they experienced every aspect of motherhood with one another. Their families grew closer as well, enjoying backyard cookouts and, as the kids became teenagers, sharing crushes. Theresa and Jackie’s home lives were very different. Theresa, with her quiet, well-behaved daughter, kept her house neat and orderly. Jackie’s home, with four rambunctious boys (and, let’s be honest, two parents who didn’t care too much about cleanliness), was often on the verge of disaster, with dirty dishes and balled-up socks galore.

"Book clubs looking for novels with plenty to chew on shouldn’t overlook HOT SPRINGS DRIVE. The thriller elements are there, but in the end, there’s so much to discuss beyond whodunit."

Part of Jackie’s ambivalence to housework is her desire to feel in control of something --- anything --- whose effects will leave an impression longer than it takes to dirty another dish or brush one’s teeth. So when she and Theresa decide to go together to Get Skinny, Jackie is immediately all in. Here’s something she can have total control over, with measurable results that will get her noticed for something other than what’s for dinner.

And notice they do. Given Jackie’s fanatical devotion to the program, she drops a remarkable amount of weight very quickly and soon reaps the benefits in terms of attention from other men --- including Adam. What follows is an affair that grows increasingly hasty and reckless. But given the proximity of their homes and the closeness of their families, it does not go unobserved. So when tragedy strikes in the wake of Theresa’s discovery of the affair, who’s to blame? And, more importantly, why?

Lindsay Hunter's HOT SPRINGS DRIVE unfolds in short narrative bursts from the points of view of several individuals, including all the members of the two families, as well as others who investigate or report on the crime at the center of the novel. The emphasis throughout is on observation and appearances, what each of these characters notices --- or chooses to notice --- and why. Even though there’s no doubt about who’s going to die and when (it’s revealed in the opening pages), this rapid shifting of perspectives creates narrative momentum of its own, as readers make up their own minds about who to trust.

This is the third book in Roxane Gay’s imprint at Grove Atlantic. So perhaps it’s not surprising that it offers plenty of sharp, insightful commentary not only on motherhood and the potential toxicity of female friendships, but also on body image and the weight loss industry, which Gay has written about extensively. Book clubs looking for novels with plenty to chew on shouldn’t overlook HOT SPRINGS DRIVE. The thriller elements are there, but in the end, there’s so much to discuss beyond whodunit.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on December 1, 2023

Hot Springs Drive
by Lindsay Hunter

  • Publication Date: November 7, 2023
  • Genres: Fiction, Women's Fiction
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Roxane Gay Books
  • ISBN-10: 0802161456
  • ISBN-13: 9780802161451