Read 5/31/10 - 6/3/10
4 Stars - Strongly Recommended
When I attended the CityLit Festival in Baltimore a few months back, I was lucky enough to attend Michael Kimball's 510 Readings. At that session, I listened as Geoffery Becker read the prologue to Hot Springs, which released in February 2010 under Tin House Books.
The book opens as a flashback in which we are introduced to a young Bernice, who obsesses over the mental stability of her mother. There's a pretty curious incident in which her mother dons running shoes, and literally nothing else, and proceeds to jog around her neighborhood block.
Fast forward quite a few years to Bernice as an adult, kidnapping Emily, the 5 year old daughter she had given up for adoption. And all the chaos and craziness that follows them across the country.
Becker did a great job of fleshing out Bernice, who is obviously unstable (like her mother), and though I am unsure what caused Bernice to decide to steal her daughter from the couple that Bernice willingly released her to, I was hooked and had to know how the story would end.
It was an interesting roller coaster of a ride. I found very little to like in any of the characters, yet, like a train wreck or a car crash, I simply could not avert my eyes. Bernice and her boyfriend were the epitome of unhealthy relationships. Emily was the strangest 5 year old child I have ever known ( read about ). And Emily's adoptive parents were certainly cringe-worthy in their own special ways.
Yet Becker managed to balance them against each other, and pulled off an amazing novel that demonstrates what it's like to fight for what you want and force yourself to finally let go.
A huge thank you to Tin House Books for sending me this novel upon my request.