Skip to main content

Gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson

After reading Gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson (2005), which I enjoyed even more than Backseat Saints, I'm officially hooked on Jackson and her work. She's now on my instant buy for her new works, and I still have a couple more of her earlier books to read.

There's nothing quite like the satisfaction of "discovering" a new-to-you author who thoroughly engages your interest with his/her writing style and characters. I'm excited!

In Gods in Alabama, Arlene/Lena Fleet (I love how her characters have dual personalities and different first names to reflect their different life paths) has to do something she promised God to never do--return to her hometown, Possett, Alabama, after ten years in Chicago.

One reason for her return involves Ro/Rose from Backseat Saints appearing on her Chicago doorstep, and the other reason is the insistence of boyfriend Burr that he's leaving if she doesn't take him to meet her family--the aunt and uncle who basically raised her, the cousin who is more like a sister, and the mentally vacant mother who is still cared for by the aunt and uncle.

Why does Lena have this pact with God, one that also involves never lying and not sleeping with anyone? Because teenage Lena killed high school quarterback Jim Beverly, of course, and God's part of the pact involves the body never being found.

Told not only in the present of 1997, but with flashbacks to the events of the past, Lena provides a riveting first-person account of a complicated life--both as a twenty-something and as a teenager. And, right along with Backseat Saints, the story provides a look at blood ties and the strength of women's family relationships.

Kindle location 2081-2099:

[Phone call made at the side of the road to Aunt Florence right before Lena and Burr arrive in Possett to break the [false] news that they've just gotten married. Maybe this section appeals to me so much because my husband and I are also an inter-racial couple?]

Sarcasm flooded the phone and spilled out, soaking me. "I appreciate the news bulletin. Is there anything else you want to tell me while you are passing on this tidbit? Is your new husband that your family has never met an ex-convict, for example? Or are you just knocked up?"

As she spoke, I wiped my horse-feeding hand on my jeans and grabbed the phone, holding it a little away so Burr could hear. The cell phone's tiny speaker distorted Aunt Florence's powerful voice, and from this distance it sounded like nothing more than the quacking of an enraged duck. I put the phone back to my ear.

"I'm not pregnant, and he's not a convict. I told you, he's a lawyer. But while I've got you, I guess I should tell you he's black."

I clipped the phone between my chin and shoulder again. There was a long silence. I shared out another handful of popcorn among the horse and the ponies. Burr was watching me, rubbing his hand across his lips.

Finally she said, "What do you mean, he's black? You mean he himself is black? A black man?"

"Yes. By black, I mean he is black."

Florence took a deep breath and then spoke, her voice dead cold. "I am hanging up now, Arlene. I will take this up with you and your secret black husband when you arrive."

"Yes, you'd better go quick," I said. "You have less than two hours to get on the horn and tell everyone that Arlene married a black man just to piss you off. I wouldn't want Aunt Sukie to have live kittens if you don't get to prep her before Uncle Bruster's party. We have a large extended family--may I suggest a phone tree?"

My overall personal rating of Gods in Alabama is an A.


I read this book a couple years ago. I got it off the $2.99 rack at Broders. I went back and bought copies for my sister and some friends. They all loved it! I have never read anything else by her, I should look into that.
Of the two I've read so far, Gods in Alabama is definitely my favorite. You lucked into a bargain!

Popular posts from this blog

If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things by Jon McGregor

The May selection for my work book club is Jon McGregor's If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things (2002). The novel follows various individuals in one neighborhood on a particular day, an ordinary day that ends with a terrible tragedy.

Here's the short set of questions I e-mailed to book club members yesterday, along with my own responses.

Did you have a favorite character, or one that spoke to you the most? Who and why?
The father with the burned hands is the one who stayed with me the most after reading the book.

Did you notice that the day on which the events unfold is actually the same day that Diana, Princess of Wales, died? Does knowing that make any difference in how you see the story? I wouldn't have made the connection if I hadn't just watched some of the coverage of the Royal Wedding. To quote the author, he chose this particular day because his novel is about how ". . .everyday miracles of life and death go unwitnessed in favor of celebrity and sensati…

Current Little Pleasures

Girls' weekend in Omaha with Maya and her friend.

Happy Buddha:  Sweet Orange and Cedar Shower Foam from RITUALS

Time for iced or blended peppermint mochas.

Shopping for little gifts for Maya's Japanese pen pal.  They were matched through their schools, and we're hoping she can stay with us for a few days this summer.

The flock of wild turkeys, foxes, and other assorted wildlife entertaining us this fall.

Thanksgiving plans to visit my sister.

Hallmark Channel's Countdown to Christmas is back!

Current Little Pleasures

Christmas Keepsake Week, July 14-23, filled with Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel.

Sending Christmas (in July) cards with a Peace greeting to some of my favorite people.  Why not??

Scott Tube Free Toilet Paper--nothing to recycle.

Haagen-Dazs Coffee Ice Cream--always!

Baby Driver movie.

Seeing photos from my sisters and niece on Facebook during their Italy trip.  I can't imagine they will want to come back home!

What are your current little pleasures?