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BOOK HUNGRY: A Twitter Book Club -- Gods In Alabama

Posted by Elizabeth Ryann on 2:00 AM in , , , , , ,
I'd like to welcome you guys to the second official Book Hungry: A Twitter Book Club blog entry.  September's book was Cynthia's pick:


GODS IN ALABAMA by Joshilyn Jackson!

I have to admit that I was curious about this one since I won a copy of BACKSEAT SAINTS in a contest (yes, I entered a contest for a book I knew nothing about mostly because I am competitive and LOVE winning, but also because I heart books), and at the time, Cynthia gushed about how much she loves Joshilyn Jackson's work, and that GODS IN ALABAMA was not to be missed.

I thought the book was really well done, too.  The rhythm of the writing, and the sounds of the setting, it's all so vivid that you're almost immediately immersed into Arlene's world.  I haven't been to Alabama in 15 years, or Georgia in at least 6, and yet I could practically feel the heat and smell the kudzu of the South, you know?  Also, cicadas are seriously gross--like, so, so yucky, and this reminded me once again, vividly, about why I hate them so much.

The other thing that Jackson excels at is characterization.  I thought Burr was terrific and sweet if at times wrongheaded, and Lena was hilarious, and sometimes so painfully honest that I was uncomfortable and wanted her to quit sharing.  I thought Florence was such a strong character that it's impossible not to like her, even though we're privy to her mild racism and multiple animal killings.  It's written in such a way that it's supposed to be horrific, but Florence's steel shines through her magnolia so frequently that it's hard not to relate to her, and the challenges she faces--she refuses to be pitied.  Clarice, who so easily could've been a cliche, was lovely.  It's completely understandable why she's Lena's favorite cousin.  And Arlene's first crush is sometimes so completely charming that the sweetness and the awkwardness of everything should be painful, but somehow isn't (no worries though, creepy awkward pain abounds--the book is definitely not all sweetness and light).  The only character who kinda felt cartoonish to me was Rose Mae, especially modern-day Rose Mae, but it didn't impact my appreciation for the writing in any particular way.  I felt awful for the young Arlene and her disturbing fantasies, but I appreciated that the twists in the story were just as slippery as Lena's way of thinking, and how Lena developed into the sort of person she is in modern-day Chicago becomes clearer with each additional detail we learn of young Arlene's past.

This is very much a book you'd find on the Fiction shelf, rather than the Romance and YA sections which are where I usually kick it, but sometimes it's fun to branch out and take a breather from my usual fare.  I find I don't usually engage emotionally with more literary novels, but I do readily slip into my more distant analytical cap and can analyze the text and appreciate the construction of the work, and it usually gives me some fresh perspective on something I'm writing as well, since it's harder for me to slip back out of that pattern of thinking.  And this book really is very well done.  Jackson describes it rather perfectly as "Southern fiction seasoned with a dash of literary murder mystery," and if that sounds like the sort of thing that appeals to you, I think you'll definitely appreciate this book.

If you'd like to see what the rest of the club thought:

http://karlanellenbach-lastword.blogspot.com/
http://kellybreakey.blogspot.com/
http://vanessapnoble.wordpress.com/

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5 Comments


Sounds good to me--I love a taste of the South!


Burr was a great character that captured my attention from the start of the book, but any man that can walk around in lobster PJ's and still be manly, Wowsa!

Great review!


Ah, Burr...I completely forgot about his lobster jammies! LOL...yes, this was a great pick on Cynthia's part. LOVED it :) and you did an AWESOME review!


great review!

i adore it when your analytical mind kicks in. and i had forgotten about it, but i totally agree with your assessment on rose mae. she was the only character who didn't feel fully realized.

p.s. how is BACKSEAT SAINTS? it wasn't on my library's shelf and so i have to request it from a different branch...


Linda: You shouldn't actually eat the book. Hold out for Cynthia's chicken.

Kelly and Karla: Lobster PJs are serious business. Sexy business.

Abby: I haven't read it yet! But so far it looks delightful sitting on my shelf.

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