It’s been a while since I’ve read a book in less than 24 hours. I was really excited to read this book because the author, Jessica Grose, is the editor-in-chief for a newsletter called Lenny that I read every week. Also, the description on the back of the book says “Nama-Slay: Yoga Couple Found Dead in New Mexico Cave” and I love the pun.
I enjoy yoga too, so I was really interested how such a peaceful thing was going to fit into a sinister mystery murder story.
I visited my parents for the weekend and brought Soulmates with me. It was a beautiful day and I spent a few hours sitting in the backyard with this book. Thank goodness I read it during the day in a safe space, because there are some seriously chilling parts to this book.
*SPOILER ALERT* I’m gonna reveal stuff (including the ending) about the book now. So you really can’t say I didn’t warn you.
You know how Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt makes a lot of jokes about cults and it’s lighthearted and funny? This isn’t that. There are funny moments in this book, but for the most part, it’s a serious examination of the emotional turmoil after a husband leaves, the power of a cult and feeling a need to belong, and the lengths to which people will go for a spiritual awakening.
It took me about half the book to realize that the character named Yoni is totally a cult leader and everything he does is a scam and he’s a really gross dude. I think it took me a while because I’m used to yoga teachers saying spiritual things and meditation practice. But once I realized that what he said and did was not normal, everything seemed to fall into place and be just that much more chilling.
I usually think that most people who join a cult are kind of…dumb. I mean, why else would you give up all of your money because a guy says you’ll go to heaven or something? It just seems like an obvious moment where you should step back and say “wait, I shouldn’t do this.” But Dana’s a lawyer. She’s ostensibly very intelligent! And she still falls victim to Yoni and his message. I think it’s because the need to belong and to be in a place where you feel valued or like you can improve yourself is so strong that even the smartest of us can fall prey.
I thought Soulmates was going to go one way at the end, but it went the opposite direction. I thought Dana was going to expose Yoni and there was going to be a police raid and justice for Ethan and his girlfriend’s death. But no! Dana ends up joining the cult! Say whaaat! I felt a lot like Dana’s sister, Beth, who is obviously really worried for her, but Dana is like “it’s all cool, I’m in a spiritual marriage with Yoni now and this is all my own choice.”
Soulmates is a page-turner and I’d recommend it to anyone who loves a twist, loves yoga, and loves a good mystery.
• Paperback: 320 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (June 13, 2017)
“For anyone who has ever suspected something sinister lurking behind the craze of new-age spirituality, Jessica Grose has crafted just the tale for you. With the delicious bite of satire and the page-turning satisfaction of a thriller, Soulmates is a deeply compelling, funny and sharply observed look at just how far we will go to achieve inner peace.”—Lena Dunham
A clever, timely novel about a marriage, and infidelity, the meaning of true spirituality, perception and reality from the author of Sad Desk Salad, in which a scorned ex-wife tries to puzzle out the pieces of her husband’s mysterious death at a yoga retreat and their life together.
It’s been two years since the divorce, and Dana has moved on. She’s killing it at her law firm, she’s never looked better, thanks to all those healthy meals she cooks, and she’s thrown away Ethan’s ratty old plaid recliner. She hardly thinks about her husband—ex-husband—anymore, or about how the man she’d known since college ran away to the Southwest with a yoga instructor, spouting spiritual claptrap that Dana still can’t comprehend.
But when she sees Ethan’s picture splashed across the front page of the New York Post—”Nama-Slay: Yoga Couple Found Dead in New Mexico Cave”—Dana discovers she hasn’t fully let go of Ethan or the past. The article implies that it was a murder-suicide, and Ethan’s to blame. How could the man she once loved so deeply be a killer? Restless to find answers that might help her finally to let go, Dana begins to dig into the mystery surrounding Ethan’s death. Sifting through the clues of his life, Dana finds herself back in the last years of their marriage . . . and discovers that their relationship—like Ethan’s death—wasn’t what it appeared to be.
A novel of marriage, meditation, and all the spaces in between, Soulmates is a page-turning mystery, a delicious satire of our feel-good spiritual culture, and a nuanced look at contemporary relationships by one of the sharpest writers working today.
About Jessica Grose
Jessica Grose is a writer and editor. She was previously a senior editor at Slate and an editor at Jezebel. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Glamour, Marie Claire, Spin, and several other publications, and on Salon.com. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband.