Gods in Alabama
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Gods in Alabama

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3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  11,882 ratings  ·  1,384 reviews
When Arlene Fleet heads up north for college, she makes three promises to God: She will stop fornicating with every boy who crosses her path; never tell another lie; and never, ever go back to the "fourth rack of hell," her hometown of Possett, Alabama. All she wants from Him is one little miracle: make sure the body is never found.

Ten years later, God has broken His end o...more
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Karla
Had me at the first line.
"There are gods in Alabama: Jack Daniel's, high school quarterbacks, trucks, big tits, and also Jesus."
Now I tell you my eyebrows shot up thinking now this is gonna be a bumpy ride straight into the modern dirty south.....oh yeah!
blended with vibrant humor, a whodunit and unexpected twists of fate. I really laughed out loud with delight at Jackson's witty flare for language and natural fresh dialoge, she has a serious tallent that well have me collecting all her other...more
Michael
I enjoyed this for the humorous dialog and quirky drama while I was reading it, but a week later very little lingers. The themes about growing up are universal, but the solutions are atypical and seem contrived. Still, the lead character has an engaging voice. Her satirical outlook effectively undercuts all manner of hypocrisy and lingering racism and classism in the deep South while applying a certain level of forgiveness for it, as so much of the intolerance derives from ignorance.

Arlene is a...more
Blair
I don't often write reviews, but I wanted to take a moment to recommend this book to anybody who comes across it on my feed. I am totally enamored with Joshilyn Jackson. Despite my deep South upbringing, I often shy away from novels labeled "Southern fiction." I find them to be cloying and built on stereotypes that did not ring true to my experience as a southerner. Jackson's novels bring a breath of fresh air to the genre. She writes fabulous fiction that happens to take place in the South. god...more
Nadia
May 25, 2007 Nadia rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Anne Tyler
Shelves: actuallyread
There is something really beautiful about an author who is in control of their craft -- It's hard enough to plot a successful story that is intriguing, but to be able to manipulate the chronology of a story and make the story even better? (This is one of the reasons I enjoyed Time Traveller's Wife so much) This is a great book that will teach men something about relating to women and teach women something about relating to themselves. Good stuff - it's a fast read, with fabulous strong characte...more
Bloomeenee
This book contains one of the best single lines ever written: "Hail to thee alabama, thou verdant trollop" :)
I picked it up in a charity shop because it looked interesting, which is my favourite method of book-buying. I loved it, I was hooked, the characters are so real, and it uses flashbacks which i always like. Centred around a murder, but not a crime novel, its all relationships and personalities.... sorry can't recommend in any coherent manner.
sandra
Feb 17, 2008 sandra rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: somebody stuck on an airplane
Goodness, I don't remember the last time I read a book about a family from the southern US that didn't involve some unhappy young woman with (a) a drunken-wife beating father or (b) a teenage rape. This is yet another. Just to be thorough, the author even threw in the requisite family of eccentrics. In two weeks, I won't remember a thing about it.
Jan Rice
A young lady from the deep south finds herself up north in graduate school with an African-American boyfriend. What's more, she can't go home again, for other reasons besides the boyfriend. Ten years ago she killed the town football hero/predator/drinker and left his body moldering in the kudzu. She has promised God she'll never go home and never tell another lie, if only she isn't caught.

From that premise unfolds the story told in Joshilyn Jackson's first novel. And quite a story it is! It made...more
Mike
From the thoughts of Arlene Fleet: "There are Gods in Alabama. I killed one of them." Kudzu covers a multitude of sins. And so it does in Joshilyn Jackson's first published novel. Or, maybe we only think it does. For those about to read "Backseat Saints," Ms. Jackson's latest, read this. Both novels stand alone perfectly well. However, reading them together just emphasizes what a talented writer Jackson is. This is contemporary southern literature at its best. The color is local. The themes are...more
Suzanne
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Darcy
Mar 27, 2010 Darcy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Darcy by: Jackie Lane
Shelves: 2010, chick-lit
Lena has been in Chicago for the last 10 years, trying to forget her family in Alabama. In that time she has never gone home, atonement for her actions when she was a teenager through a promise to God for help. Her family doesn't know why she doesn't come home, only that she doesn't. They try all the tricks in the book during the weekly phone calls, but Lena holds fast to her promise.

In this new life Lena has been dating a guy, Burr, that is all she wants. They have been dating for 2 years, but...more
Laura
I'm torn about what to think about this book. I definately liked Between, Georgia better. Right off the bat, I kept thinking this one was just weird.

The present/past story telling worked in Between, since you were just learning about her in bits and pieces, and it didn't have to be in chronological order. In this one, it was alternating chapters (not just drifting back to a memory), but I don't think it worked as well. Lena tells about a story telling game they play on road trips, and I soon fi...more
Diane Barnes
I don't know why it has taken me so long to get around to reading one of Joshilyn Jackson's books, despite the fact that she has been highly recommended by people whose reading tastes I respect. Whatever the reason, I'm glad I finally picked this one up. She has a wicked sense of humor and a fine story to tell. The characters are believable, the plot was just convoluted enough to keep me reading without being frustrated, and the dialogue was very real. And boy, does she ever get southerners righ...more
Mari Anne
Jackson does it again! Personally I am loving Joshilyn Jackson. Her books are somewhat hard to describe. They are intense dramas, somewhat in the vein of Jodi Piccoult. For me though Jackson's writing seems tighter and more intense than Piccoult. She fits a lot more angst in less space.

In this one, Arlene Fleet has fled Alabama for Chicago and hasn't been back for 10 years because of a trauma that happened in high school. Due to her own reasons, she killed one of her small Alabama town's gods......more
steffie
It took me a little while to get into this one. Starts off pretty slow and uninvolving despite the author's apparent attempts to achieve the opposite effect.

A lot of the wacky Southern stuff fell flat and has been done before by other authors with greater insight and flair. Some of the humor was brilliant in spots; some of it was like dead air.

To me, the book only true came alive during the flashbacks. The story of Arlene's adolescence captured me, and I had great compassion for her.

I also give...more
Donna

This was a quick and easy read. I was hooked from the very first line. She reeled me right in. I love the author’s writing. This is my second novel that I have read that was written by her and I love the honesty in which her characters approach southern life with all its flaws and strengths. She isn’t worried about being politically correct or any 'correct' for that matter. She’s a little irreverent but I love the quirkiness. She makes me laugh out loud.

She used some rough language, but didn’t...more
Book Concierge
Audio book performed by Catherine Taber
3.5***

Arlene Fleet lived up to her name when she fled Possett Alabama for Chicago as soon as she graduated high school. She’s lived up to her bargain with God – she will not lie, fornicate or return to Alabama, as long as He keeps the body hidden. Now she’s being pressured by her African American tax attorney boyfriend to introduce him to the family. She loves Burr, but her family members are racist Southern Baptists, and of course there’s the issue of the...more
Meg
Joshilyn Jackson’s gods in Alabama is a sweeping, emotional and evocative story of love, redemption and family. If I was utterly absorbed in Rose Mae’s saga in Backseat Saints, a parallel piece to this one, then gods in Alabama totally blew me away.

What impresses me most about Jackson’s characters is their immediate way of burrowing into my heart. While I didn’t feel as though I knew Lena well in Backseat Saints, I knew enough of her past to feel somewhat wary of her at the start of this narrati...more
Kathy
When I started reading "Gods in Alabama," I realized that it featured one of the characters (Arlene Fleet) from Ms. Jackson's "Backseat Saints," which I read a few months ago. Actually, there were a lot of characters that were in both books. That said, both books were completely enjoyable whether read in the order written (this is Ms. Jackson's debut) or backwards.

The story was interesting, surprising at times and quite authentic. I especially liked Arlene and her boyfriend, Burr. Prior to readi...more
Jackie Lane
I absolutely loved this book. I picked it up thinking I would put it on a a pile to be read at some point, but after I read it, I could not recommend it to enough people. It is a little bit chick lit but more of a mystery/suspense book.

Lena makes a promises to God and 10 years later has to return to her roots and try not to break those promises as her life starts unraveling before her. This book is full of twists and turns, laugh out loud parts and some sad parts.

I thoroughly enjoyed Joshilyn Ja...more
Cecilia
Fast read! Real page turner! Great ending!

If I had to come up with a moral for this book it would be:

We are all blessed with a great mother, she just might not be the one we actually call mom.


2011 Re-read... Still wonderful. After reading Backseat Saints, I was compelled to read this one again. It is a far better book than Backseat Saints, and very powerful.

I only wish that Rose Mea had an Aunt Flo to be there in the end for her.
Jessica
Despite brilliant lines such as "There are god in Alabama. I know because I killed one," this book is not very well written. Still, I am hovering between giving it 3 stars and giving it 4 stars because of the completely authentic and twisted logic of the protaganist, who makes deals with God, withholds pleasures from herself as penance for sins, and generally wraps herself up into knots in a way that will seem disturbingly familiar to anyone raised in a totalitarian religious environment.
JayeL
May 03, 2008 JayeL rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Someone interested in quirky family relationships
I found this book to be extremely well written and very entertaining. Arlene lives happily in Chicago ignoring pleas from her family to return to Alabama for a visit. When she eventually does, she confronts a lot of her past that isn't the way she thought it was. It is a lot about leaving your family and separating from them. I think the overall message of the book is to have courage.
Gina
This was a quick read that kept me interested into the wee hours of the morning. Author did a nice job switching back between main character's present and past. Good summer beach read.
Sarah
I am conflicted about this book. On the one hand, I could not relate to the protagonist. We had little in common other than both being short of stature. Additionally, I was insanely jealous of her boyfriend. Dang! Girl, he deserves someone much, much kinder than you. I would be so, so grateful and treat him so much better...Oh, wait, this is a work of fiction. Which, leads me to my other hand. I was totally absorbed, caught up in the story, greedily turning the pages. On that note, the hallmark...more
Sarah
I was hooked from the first line: "There are gods in Alabama: Jack Daniels, high school quarterbacks, trucks, big tits, and also Jesus."

The main character, Arlene Fleet, left Alabama - and her dirty little secrets - behind ten years ago, and has no plans to go back until her serious boyfriend, Burr, gives her an ultimatum: take me to meet your family or we're done. Not wanting to lose Burr, but too terrified to go back and face the fact that she killed the high school quarterback and his body ha...more
Glenda
Upon leaving her hometown in Possett, Alabama, Arlene Fleet made a deal with God: 1) She would stop fornicating with every boy she met, 2) She would never tell another lie in her life, and 3) She will never ever go back to her hometown in Posset. All she wanted from that deal was for God to make sure that the body was never found. But then, ten years later, God brings back her past right onto her doorstep. In addition, her African-American boyfriend gives her an ultimatum: introduce him to her f...more
Hilcia
I read Gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson when it was first released in 2005 (re-read in April, 2010). It was Ms. Jackson's debut novel and one that made my keeper shelf for different reasons. This is a women's fiction book, but it's also considered "Southern Fiction." Ms. Jackson is from the South and those roots can definitely be appreciated and recognized in her writing, characterization, subject matter and humor.

Gods in Alabama is one of those books with an unforgettable first line, one tha...more
Ashley
This book is packed with great characters who are vividly drawn without becoming stereotypes, which is especially impressive given that about 3/4 of the book is set in the South, which is so frequently the victim of stereotype.

There's a murder mystery, love in many forms, and a convincing and unique narrative voice that rings true with the exception of a few overdramatic moments. I was also impressed that a book largely occupied (at least on a surface level) with murder and sex had a remarkably...more
Sidna
At the end of next month I am going to attend a literacy luncheon where Joshilyn Jackson is going to be one of the authors who will speak. Since I was not familiar with her work, I decided to read one or two of her books before the luncheon.

I read this one first and loved it! For most of my life I have been a Yankee, but I have lived in the south for the last 7 years. I was never particularly into Southern writers, although I liked Tennessee Williams and Pat Conroy has always been my favorite au...more
Joe
Make a promise to God that you will walk the straight and narrow if He can keep his end of the bargain. Stay out of Alabama, and everything should be fine, but ten years later, the past comes barging back.

Damn this book was good! Rare is the book that can wrench that kind of an adolescent response out of me, but there was so much right with Jackson's style of writing. I don't know that I've ever read a southern-based plot before. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil was good but too intellect...more
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Southern Lit Lovers: Gods In Alabama - February 2013 - Spoilers Possible! 41 30 Feb 26, 2013 11:10AM  
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SHORT VERSION:

Jackson's latest novel, SOMEONE ELSE'S LOVE STORY, pubs on November 19, 2013!

New York Times Bestselling novelist Joshilyn Jackson is the author of gods in Alabama, Between, Georgia, The Girl Who Stopped Swimming, Backseat Saints, A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty, and most recently, SOMEONE ELSE'S LOVE STORY. Her books have been translated into a dozen languages, won SIBA’s novel of the yea...more
More about Joshilyn Jackson...
A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty Between, Georgia The Girl Who Stopped Swimming Backseat Saints Someone Else's Love Story

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“There are gods in Alabama: Jack Daniel's, high school quarterbacks, trucks, big tits, and also Jesus.” 99 likes
“God gave us crying so other folks could see when we needed help, and help us.” 91 likes
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