Hayley and the Hot Flashes
by Jayne Jaudon Ferrer
294 pages
Price: $17.99
Publisher: Small Town Girl Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-7378411-5-9
To Order: https://bookshop.org/
& Amazon

Reviewed by Michael Escoubas

“You are, frankly, my only reason for living, Miss Swift.”

This line stopped me cold. Already held hostage by characters wearing such monikers as “Bubba,” “Tipsy,” “C.J.” “Rhett,” and “Suzette,” I had to find out more.

But wait … let’s back up for a moment. Hayley and the Hot Flashes, by Jayne Jaudon Ferrer (think actor and entertainer, Jose Ferrer, no relation) is her first full length novel. This delightfully entertaining work will give readers the answer, not only to the above-noted quote, (the whys and wherefores), but will even offer some wise advice about living life to the full.

First off, put yourself in Hayley Swift’s place. Once on top of the entertainment world and the country music charts, she’s now facing twin challenges of advancing age and professional irrelevance. No one wants her. No one needs her. Her career, her life, needs a jump start.

What must former superstar Hayley Swift do to recover her past iconic life?

Ferrer is a down-to-earth writer. She writes about real life. Who among us has not lived in Hayley’s shoes? (Adjusted, of course, to individual circumstances). Who among has not stood with Hayley, at Robert Frost’s crossroads in “The Road Not Taken”? That fateful junction, where …

          Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
          And sorry I could not travel both
          And be one traveler, long I stood
          And looked down one as far as I could
          To where it bent in the undergrowth …

Indeed, at this point, Hayley feels like the name of her former band, Road Kill. It seems that somewhere in the distant past, Nashville talent scouts offered Hayley a contract.

First crossroad: Hayley signed and left her four backup singers (”The Girls Next Door,” soon to be, the “Hot Flashes”) behind.

Later, Hayley is heard to say, “Isn’t it funny? When I worked here, (at a small-time ice cream shop, the Dairy Dip), all I could think about was leaving. Then when I left, for a long time, all I could think about was coming back. I guess we never value our treasures till we lose them, do we?”

Second crossroad: What do we do in life, when it is time to deal with the past and move on?

The inner conflicts the Flashes go through at this point, is worth the price of the book. At last they decide to reprise their group, go on the road and “swim with the big dogs.”

As Jaudon develops her story, she chronicles with gentle adroitness, the humanity of each major character. Flaws surface, memories of rejection must be dealt with. Meg Norris, a talented backup singer, recalls being blamed by her parents for consequences that happened, “in a blaze of hormones in the back seat of Ty Dorris’ vintage T-Bird.” Instead of supporting Meg at this critical life-juncture, a crossroads of sorts, her parents’ parting words were, “You stupid little slut! That boy was gonna start at fullback for Ole Miss!” Now, some thirty-five years later, Meg must make a life-changing choice.

Over the landscape of time, this talented, out-of-practice quintet learn how to take risks. They hit the road amid the rugged environs of country music, where popular acceptance is everything. Audiences must “like” you, moguls of the entertainment industry must see you as a “saleable” product; If DJs don’t “spin” your records, you don’t stand a chance of success. All of these are big “ifs” for the newly rejuvenated Hayley and the Hot Flashes.

This story is exudes human interest. Jaudon’s characters are people you may know. They may be you! With that said, Jaudon is a skilled storyteller. She surprises … the moment I thought I had the next thing pegged; I was delighted to be proven wrong.

Third crossroad: Ask the right questions of life. Your reviewer posed the following question at the top:

What must former superstar Hayley Swift do to recover her past iconic life?

But was this the right question? Jayne Jaudon Ferrer, has written a novel worth reading. It is funny. It is wise. In the end, the questions it raises and answers, will make you stop and think.

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