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Reviews of Hot Springs Drive by Lindsay Hunter

Hot Springs Drive

by Lindsay Hunter

Hot Springs Drive by Lindsay Hunter X
Hot Springs Drive by Lindsay Hunter
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Nov 2023, 320 pages

    Nov 12, 2024, 288 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Jillian Bell
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About this Book

Book Summary

The third title in Roxane Gay Books' inaugural list, Hot Springs Drive is an urgent, vicious blade of a novel about a shocking betrayal and its aftermath, asking just how far you'll go to have everything you want

Jackie Stinson's best friend is dead, and everyone knows who killed her.

Jackie wants to be many things, but a martyr has never been one of them. She is an ex-emotional eater and mother of four, who has finally lost the weight she long yearned to be free of. In her new, sharp-edged body, she goes by Jacqueline. But leaving her old self behind proves harder than she ever imagined. And while she believes she should be happier, misery still chases her, and motherhood threatens to subsume what little is left of her.

Her only salve is her best friend Theresa, whose seemingly perfect life she desperately covets. Since they met in the maternity ward 15 years earlier, the two have survived the trials of motherhood side by side – Theresa with her quiet, cherubic daughter, and Jacqueline with her rambunctious, unruly boys. Their bond is tight, but it is not enough to keep Jacqueline, finally moving through the world in the body she has always wanted, from stealing a bit of Theresa's perfect life.

Hot Springs Drive is a dark, heart-pounding exploration of one woman's deepest desires, and how the consequences of betrayal can ripple outward beyond the initial strike point. In her third and fiercest novel, acclaimed literary voice Lindsay Hunter deftly peels back the fragile veneer of two suburban families and the secrets roiling between them.


A House on Hot Springs Drive

The house didn't ask for what happened, for what it had to hold, for the echoes it muffled, the wetness it dried. It was just a house, a collection of rooms. A divided space.

One of them hadn't pushed the couch all the way into the corner, so it was a spot used for the little one to hide things or hide herself or cry when she got a little older and the house wasn't so big anymore. There was a coin there still, dusty and forgotten, but at one time it had been her special thing, her beloved. The house knew how some things could feel gifted, how they suddenly appeared or were suddenly seen, how it could stop one of them in their tracks with wonder. A beam of sunlight angled through the sliding glass doors over and over and over and over and over and over, day after day after day after day after day after day, and the child played in it, the big ones stood in it with their hands on their hips, looking around, or they rushed through it, exploding the dust ...

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This is not a murder mystery. We know Theresa will die from the beginning of the novel, and the author leaves easy-to-interpret clues about who the murderer is. Rather, this is a literary exploration of the fractures that can occur between friends and family members, and within an individual's mind, and how their accumulation can lead to tragedy. The whole collection of complex characters makes this book a treat. None of them are entirely likeable, but they feel so real. The teenage daughter who pulls away from her doting mother. The guy who is handsome, but too weird to keep a girlfriend for long. The man who feels dissatisfied, despite a successful job and loving family. We see these characters through their own eyes as well as each other's...continued

Full Review Members Only (637 words)

(Reviewed by Jillian Bell).

Media Reviews

Washington Post
The Gone Girl-style thriller you were waiting for is here ... [Hot Springs Drive] is a gripping psychological thriller that is both a character study and a twisting combination of lust and tension ... [The novel] is filled with memorable prose and fascinating characters—men and women desperately searching for happiness in their lives and in each other—penned by a fearless writer with an enviable eye for detail.

Kristen Coates, Shelf Awareness
Enthralling ... Tightly paced ... An urgent novel that is a searing study of banality and monstrosity, desire and control—and a story about women, their families, [and] breaking points.

Bookseller (UK)
This gulp-in-one slice of suburban noir ... a psychologically acute tale.

Viciously insightful ... This is sure to be considered one of the best psychological thrillers of the year.

Hot Springs Drive is an explosive cocktail of lust, loneliness, and indulgence, all suppressed in a domestic suburban lifestyle ... With the salaciousness of Caroline Kepnes' You and the competitiveness of Death Becomes Her, Hot Springs Drive offers a sardonic examination of the American Dream, of the fantasies and hedonism we hide beneath a pure façade, and the darkest crevices of the human soul that are inevitably brought to light ... The thrills and horrors of being a woman are dissected in this titillating and disturbing journey of self-discovery.

Sara Cutaia, Electric Lit
Hot Springs Drive is where literary fiction meets mystery, and the marriage of the two is unlike anything I've ever read before.

In this darkly truthful novel of the dangerous power of desire, both one's own and that of others, Hunter's writing burns like a candle in the wind and readers will race to collect each cascading drip.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Hunter's lyrical writing performs the miracles here ... [capturing] complex humanity in stirring and gorgeous prose ... Tragic to the core —and yet, there is beauty in the telling.

Library Journal (starred review)
Hunter has always written with a sort of ruthless courage that takes us to the bitter edge. And she's done it again ... [Hot Springs Drive is] a devastating portrait of two damaged families and one monstrous woman you won't soon forget ... Hunter keeps readers guessing in a book that's both thriller-taut and an immersive study of human behavior.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
[A] thrilling and addictive story ... Hunter's masterwork hits all the right notes.

Author Blurb A.E. Osworth, author of We Are Watching Eliza Bright
I f**ing loved this. Thrilling and gorgeously observed, Hot Springs Drive surprises with both what the characters do and what they don't do, all with sentences as tightly spring-loaded as an over-tuned guitar string. Lindsay Hunter resists the call of murder-obsessed crime fiction vibes by subverting what we think of as the dramatic aspects of violence, death and punishment. She should be proud as hell and I can't wait for her next book.

Author Blurb Andrea Bartz, New York Times bestselling author of The Spare Room
Poignant, luscious, brutal, gorgeous, heartbreaking, and totally unique—this stunning book destroyed me, and I didn't want it to end.

Author Blurb Ashley Winstead, author of The Last Housewife
Hot Springs Drive is a haunting meditation on human desire and the monstrosity that can emerge out of ordinary hearts, on ordinary suburban streets—though in Hunter's hands, no character is ever truly ordinary. I couldn't stop turning the pages even as I wanted to slow down and savor Hunter's gorgeous sentences. A stunning achievement by a writer with a keen eye for capturing humanity in all its beautiful, wretched fullness.

Author Blurb Claire Fuller, author of The Memory of Animals
In Hot Springs Drive, Hunter mixes a perfect cocktail: precise and gritty writing, achingly and terrifyingly real characters, with a dash of mystery and darkness. Intoxicating.

Author Blurb Deesha Philyaw, author of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies
Lindsay Hunter's Hot Springs Drive left me absolutely gutted, devastated. We often lament how long it takes us to see our parents as people, but we don't talk enough about what it feels like, what it does to us, when our parents are terrible people. With fearless, pitch-perfect prose, Hunter mines the treacherous territory of loving one's parents despite their brokenness, and of the interior lives of children who are left to pick up the pieces. This is truly brilliant, sexy, and sly storytelling.

Author Blurb Diane Cook, author of The New Wilderness
Hot Springs Drive is a sneak attack. It has everything you could want in a book, delivered when you least expect it. Truly ugly and beautiful humanity. Electrifying chemistry in heartbreaking places. Hope when it seems all hope is lost. And mystery that goes way beyond a simple whodunnit. I'm in awe of the lives that Hunter has conjured in these pages. I mourn their lost innocence, and I ache for them now that I've reached the last page. The only balm is to read it again.

Author Blurb Kirstin Chen, New York Times bestselling author of Counterfeit
Hot Springs Drive is a bold, unflinching exploration of female friendship, motherhood, and desire, with an unforgettable anti-heroine as its bloody, beating heart. I've read nothing like it.

Author Blurb Kristen Arnett, author of With Teeth and Mostly Dead Things
Hot Springs Drive is Lindsay Hunter at her finest. Suburbia is rendered here in all its bleakness and not-so-hidden dysfunction, the rot secreted inside the picture-perfect shell of a home. Hunter is a deft hand at writing the mysterious inner workings of the family: everyone shares a story, but who holds onto the truth? Hot Springs Drive is gritty and propulsive, a true page-turner; I couldn't put this book down.

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Beyond the Book

The American Diet Industry

Sad face drawing on empty white plate holding silverware against solid pink background In Hot Springs Drive, main characters Theresa and Jackie attend a dieting support group. In the United States, commercial diet plans like these are a big business. The research firm Custom Market Insights estimates the industry was worth $135.7 billion in 2022 and predicts that it will continue to grow, with Herbalife, NutriSystem and Weight Watchers pegged as some of the biggest players.

Fad and commercial diet plans have been around since at least the 19th century, and gained popularity in the 20th century. The 1950s and '60s saw some truly wild regimens. The "Drinking Man's Diet," one of the rare diet plans marketed to men, called for the consumption of fish, steak…and unlimited booze. The cabbage soup diet let dieters eat ...

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