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Gods in Alabama Mass Market Paperback – December 1, 2007

4.3 out of 5 stars 278 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Arlene Fleet, the refreshingly imperfect heroine of Jackson's frank, appealing debut, launches her story with a list of the title's deities: "high school quarterbacks, trucks, big tits, and also Jesus." The first god, also a date rapist by the name of Jim Beverly, she left dead in her hometown of Possett, Ala., but the last she embraces wholeheartedly when high school graduation allows her to flee the South, the murder and her slutty reputation for a new life in Chicago. Upon leaving home, Arlene makes a bargain with God, promising to forgo sex, lies and a return home if he keeps Jim's body hidden. After nine years in Chicago as a truth-telling celibate, an unexpected visitor from home (in search of Jim Beverly) leads her to believe that God is slipping on his end of the deal. As Arlene heads for the Deep South with her African-American boyfriend, Burr, in tow, her secrets unfold in unsurprising but satisfying flashbacks. Jackson brings levity to familiar themes with a spirited take on the clichés of redneck Southern living: the Wal-Mart culture, the subtle and overt racism and the indignant religion. The novel concludes with a final, dramatic disclosure, though the payoff isn't the plot twist but rather Jackson's genuine affection for the people and places of Dixie.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Critics agree that Jackson has scored big in her first outing, a comic novel that combines salty blue-collar humor with an engaging first-person voice. Jackson navigates through what could have become clichés of Southern types and instead offers memorable, often humorous characters and situations that keep the story humming along. The author also has a few surprises up her sleeve when it comes to plot and character, including moral ambiguity. Don’t expect Jackson’s debut novel to end like the usual "coming home" story or mistake it for just another "chick-lit" offering.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (December 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446178160
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446178167
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.9 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (278 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,674,845 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Gods in Alabama starts off with a bang. For those of you in a reading slump, just pick up this book and read the first page and see if you aren't pulled into to this interesting story.

Summary, no spoilers:

This is the story about Arlene Fleet, who had fled her hometown of Possett Alabama and has lived in Chicago for the last 10 years.

Arlene has vowed never to return to Possett because of something that happened there, and she has made promises to God (i.e. she won't lie, she won't have sex, etc.,) if God enables her to keep her "crime" hidden.

To her great frustration, Arlene finds that she has to return to Posset both to face her past, and to introduce her boyfriend Burr to her her bigoted family (Burr is black and a northern Baptist, Arlene is white and southern Baptist.)

The book is well written, and a real page turner. There are many laugh out loud funny lines, and it's one of those books you can easily read from start to end in one sitting.

Saying all this, I was somewhat disappointed in this novel. Even though I really liked these characters, for some reason, they all just didn't ring true to me. Perhaps some of the characters seemed a little too stereotyped, or parts of the book were a bit rushed.

I would still recommend this book. It has a lot to say about memory, and the price we pay for keeping our silence. It is entertaining, and has a TERRIFIC finish, which is something pretty rare nowadays.
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Format: Hardcover
If I'd had known what this book was about, I wouldn't have read it. I would have figured it was way too girly for a manly man such as myself. I mean, it's a book about Arlene Fleet, a female grad student in Chicago who never tells lies, doesn't have sex with her long-time boyfriend, and calls her family back home in Alabama every week but hasn't been back to visit them for ten years because of some incident in high school. OK, See? Half of the males who were reading this review have already nodded off or are desperately searching Amazon for books that involve spitting and/or explosions. I don't blame them. This stuff is fine for the ladies but . . . OK . . . I actually enjoyed it. I admit it. This is one of the best books I've read all year. It is often funny, in a Reese Witherspoon way, and there's a mystery. It's not a mystery that Crais or Coben would have written; there's no tough-guy, wisecracking detective; there's no sleuths at all, either amateur or professional; Jackson simply provides clues that allows the reader to try to deduce whether Arlene is a victim, a murderer, or something else entirely. And while Gods in Alabama is billed as a comic novel, there are portions that will bring tears to your eyes...OK, big mistake. I shouldn't have mentioned tears. There go most of the rest of the guys. If there are any real men left out there, it's a good book, see. Really. And I'm not a wuss. I'm not. I don't care what my wife says.
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By Erin Brooks on February 27, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I didn't quite know what to expect from this book, I read the backcover quickly and thought I was in for a stereotyped relationship between Southern girl and black guy, and a difficult family. This book is so much more than that. Lena is a great heroine, and we embark with her on a story where she revisits and tries to make sense of her past and how she came to make some difficult decisions. We peel back the layers to understand the role of family, redemption, forgiveness, and how a set of circumstances can influence and impact Lena's and her family's life to such an extent.

This is a splendid story. Joshilyn Jackson is one very talented writer and I definitely look forward to reading more from her soon. Very very highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
Arlene Fleet has been keeping her promises to God for twelve years and avoiding a visit home to Alabama for ten when a familiar face forces her to begin breaking those promises. And thus begins Joshilyn Jackson's debut novel, GODS IN ALABAMA. Those gods are the things that loom large in the southern imagination, like football and Jesus, and Jackson brings the new South to life with authentic dialogue, Arlene's perfect descriptions of her Aunt Florence, life in a small Alabama town, and the expectations of southern girls and women. The women in Arlene's life include her aunt, a mentally ill mother, and her beautiful cousin Clarice. All three still live in Alabama and eagerly await Arlene's arrival.

Arlene (Lena in her adopted town of Chicago) may have held to her dubious covenant with God, but she has spent the last ten years breaking some other rules that mystify and anger her family. Namely, not setting foot in her hometown and having the audacity to date a black man. Jackson handles the race and culture issues well and shows how much of the old South still lives in contemporary America, no matter how ordinary such relationships seem in the larger culture.

The wonderful thing about this southern story is that while Jackson shows the smallness of some of Arlene's family and neighbors, she doesn't demonize them or excuse their views. Through Arlene she takes them to task without giving the novel a preachy feel or overwhelming the theme of secrets and justice at the story's core. The secrets Arlene has kept all began in high school when she took action against a bully. She prays fervently that God keep the body hidden so she can go on with her life.
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