I originally chose to read this book because I have been dying to read Ms. Jackson's latest book "Backseat Saints." Reviews for "Backseat Saints" state that the book is a companion book to "Gods in Alabama," so I chose to read this one first.
I would categorize this as a fair book but not an excellent one. The main character, Arlene, is a Chicago grad student who has fled her Alabama hometown and has never looked back. She has been scared to go back for the past 10 years because of a secret involving a murder and a hometown football hero. Once she hits her late 20s, events conspire to bring Arlene back home for a visit, bringing her black boyfriend Burr in tow. Arlene is going home to face her demons, although she is leery of the reception from her somewhat redneck relatives.
As an almost lifelong Southerner, I am picky about novels set in the South. Even though the author is a Georgia resident, the plot of this novel hits on too many stereotypes that I have seen before in novels set in the South -- the crazy mama who just was too weak to handle everyday life, the pretty cheerleaders who always seem to get the boys, the smart girl looking out from the fringes of the popular crowd, the Melanie Wilkes clone (sweet girl with a heart of gold). Most of the characters seemed one-dimensional, with the exception of Burr (the black boyfriend) and the high school football star.
I still plan to read "Backseat Saints" and give that novel a chance, but I regret to say that I was disappointed in "Gods in Alabama."