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Gods in Alabama

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  21,451 ratings  ·  2,201 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 ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published June 13th 2006 by Grand Central Publishing (first published April 13th 2005)
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Average rating 3.86  · 
Rating details
 ·  21,451 ratings  ·  2,201 reviews

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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
May 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2008
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
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

There are gods in Alabama: Jack Daniel's, high school quarterbacks, trucks, big tits, and also Jesus.

When it comes to the question of if I want another “maybe you can go home again” story, my answer is always a resounding . . . .

And when it comes to other items contained within these pages, my thoughts go a little summin’ like . . . . .

Meet Arlene. Back in the day she was quite the town bicycle (you know, because ERRRRRRY
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
Jan 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
After being introduced to Arlene Fleet in Backseat Saints, I was a bit disappointed when the story veered away from her and continued on since I was very intrigued by Arlene and what secrets I knew she had hidden. I was very excited when I found out that Gods in Alabama was about her.

I’m a little at a loss for words in how to describe this book. Joshilyn Jackson is such a wonderful storyteller. Her books evoke such strong emotions from me and I love getting lost in the rich tapestries she weave
Jul 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Entertaining for an afternoon's read. I like the characters and humor. ...more
Diane Barnes
May 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Kathryn in FL
Yeah, I'm late to the party on this one. What about it?!

So, Arlene is now in her mid-twenties, living the dream in Chicago, in love with a wonderful man and very squeamish to return to her very rural home in Alabama. We don't know all the details for a while but we are very curious. Very curious. In fact, we get curiouser and curiouser. Is Alabama REALLY That Bad?? Ok, I have been to Alabama and frankly, I've never said, "boy what I wouldn't give to live in Alabama!". No offense to those who liv
Feb 16, 2008 added it
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. ...more
Aug 31, 2007 rated it it was ok
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
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
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. ...more
LeAnne: GeezerMom
Jul 03, 2016 rated it liked it
Chick lit with southern literary intentions.
Ruth Turner
Aug 24, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned


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
Jan Rice
Mar 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, audio, southern
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
May 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 18, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
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
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
Feb 03, 2008 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 24, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
Jan 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was a debut novel for an author who has written several books since. I'm glad about that, because I liked this one enough to want to read those.

I didn't know this was a first book when I read it, and I never would have guessed. The rural Alabama setting was descriptive and realistic. The dialogue was snappy, at times touching, at times had me laughing out loud. The characters were vivid, quirky and had depth.

The story itself was a simple one. Centered around a dysfunctional family, their
I really enjoyed the audio narration of this. I enjoyed some parts of this story more than others. For example, there were many times that I was uncomfortable with how race was discussed. I felt like the main character's partner's race was used as a way to provoke and not treated as his own individual person. Such as when Lena wanted to take Burr to her relative's retirement party just to piss off her racist family with no consideration of how uncomfortable he would be in that situation. It wasn ...more
Mari Anne
Oct 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
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...
Jul 13, 2007 rated it it was ok
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
Jun 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
There are gods in Alabama...

Don't let the Chic-Lit style cover of this book fool you. This book is Southern Lit at its' finest. It is both witty and dark and delves into some tough subject matter. Arlene (Lena) is not a character I will soon forget nor is her story of growing up in Alabama and staying away for years because of what happened there.

I can't believe I waited years to read this book thinking it was all light and fluffy. I chose the audio version and the narrators voice is still in m
Feb 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Kathryn by: Anne Bogel
Shelves: 2017
This was an interesting read for me. It was recommended to me a couple of times and has gotten high reviews. I started it with great anticipation only to find it quite odd and I wasn't certain I wanted to continue. I kept reading and it grew on me little by little. It's a Southern story about family, love, religion and a murder. Quite the combination. I thoroughly enjoyed it. ...more
May 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Found it surprisingly good, it was so off balance I just fell in the hole, amazed I came out rooting for the heroine with such a checkered past.
Dec 31, 2013 rated it liked it
This book uses one of my favorite structures for a novel: it divides its time almost evenly between a story set in the present day and flashbacks telling a story set in the past. It's a great way to avoid infodumps when a story requires a lot of background - we get all of the background, and it's a lot more interesting than just telling us everything in a couple paragraphs. When done really well, it can also add mystery into the novel, and it lends subtle connections between the story in the pas ...more
I have read 5 or 6 of Jackson's books and at least three of them have dead bodies to deal with. Wonder what that's about. In this one, Arlene/Lena leaves Possett, AL, for Chicago to escape memories of a dead person. When she and her black boyfriend decide to go home finally, there is a lot of soul searching to do and history to revisit.

A little too sweet and predictable for my tastes, but it was a good, quick listen on the audio version.
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Jackson's latest novel, MOTHER MAY is available NOW at your favorite bookseller!

New York Times and USA today bestselling novelist Joshilyn Jackson is the author of MOTHER MAY I and eight other books, including NEVER HAVE I EVER, gods in Alabama and The Almost Sisters. Her work has been translated into more than a dozen languages, won SIBA’s novel of the year, three times been a #1 Book Sense Pick,

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