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Gods in Alabama

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  13,898 ratings  ·  1,488 reviews
For 10 years Arlene has kept her promises, and God has kept His end of the bargain. Until now.
When an old schoolmate from Possett turns up at Arlene's door in Chicago asking questions about Jim Beverly, former quarterback and god of Possett High, Arlene's break with her former hometown is forced to an end. At the same time, Burr, her long-time boyfriend, has raised an ult
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Published April 1st 2005 by Grand Central Publishing (first published 2005)
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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
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
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
Mauoijenn ~ *Mouthy Jenn* ~
An excellent southern fiction story. I enjoyed this so much and the writing was awesome. A great ride through back roads and family history. I am definitely going to be on the look out for more of Jackson's books.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
There are Gods in Alabama: Jack Daniel's, high school quarterbacks, trucks, big tits, and also Jesus.

A quick, entertaining read but not as good as A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty, which makes perfect sense as Gods was her debut novel and A grown-up kind of pretty her latest. I still thoroughly enjoyed this southern story with it's many twists and turns. The author had me smiling throughout, and I thought her main characters we're very well developed.
I like adding some "easy" authors to my list to rea
Ruth Turner


I read to half way and then gave up.

I really didn't like the way the story was written, moving back and forwards between past and present. That's normally not a a problem for me, but in this book it just didn't work. I struggled to stay interested.

I also didn't like any of the characters. There was no depth or feeling, and therefore I found it difficult to care about any of them. And the main character, Lena, was just plain weird.

Usually, bad language isn't a problem for me, but the continua
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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...
I'm not sure why this book is so widely acclaimed.... well, of course, it is likely widely acclaimed by a group of people who have never lived in any part of the south.

This book lacked the panache of Between, Alabama. Between is really a character study, and it's brilliant just for that reason.

This book is your basic "southerners are all racist" "high school cliches are all true" "the body is buried in the garden" kind of crap. It's only redeeming feature is the accurate descriptions of the heap
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

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
Book Concierge
Audio book performed by Catherine Taber

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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
Sarah Weathersby
This was a book selected by one of my book clubs, and although it was not something I would have chosen, I did enjoy the read.

Arlene (Lena) left Alabama ten years ago and vowed to never return. And even when her Aunt Florence, who raised her, begged her time and time again, she stood firm. It took her black boyfriend, Burr, to convince her that she needed to go home again.

The story goes back and forth through time to reveal the life Lena led when she was in High School, and the event that caused
Fffffffuck. This was one of my favorite books in high school, and I forgot how complex and gorgeous and funny and raw it is, especially about trauma and family and the compromises we make with ourselves and the people we love. that said, I have gotten older and more careful with the people *I* love, so I wouldn't recommend this without a hefty content warning: it is not good on the subject of mental illness, there are some very cringey (lampshaded as such, but still) interactions between the nar ...more
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.
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Southern Lit Lovers: Gods In Alabama - February 2013 - Spoilers Possible! 41 32 Feb 26, 2013 11:10AM  
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Jackson's latest novel, THE OPPOSITE OF EVERYONE, pubs on February 16, 2016!

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 year, twice been a
More about Joshilyn Jackson...

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“God gave us crying so other folks could see when we needed help, and help us.” 105 likes
“There are gods in Alabama: Jack Daniel's, high school quarterbacks, trucks, big tits, and also Jesus.” 100 likes
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