Author: Joshilyn Jackson
Title: Gods in Alabama
Narrator: Catherine Taber
Publication Info: Hachette Audio (2005)
This is a novel I saw highly recommended but didn’t know too much about going into it. And since it jumps among many genres – romantic comedy, mystery, Southern gothic – it kept me guessing what would happen next (in a good way). The narrator Arlene Fleet leaves her hometown in rural Alabama after a “miracle,” and promises God three things: never to lie, never to fornicate, and to never return to Possett, Alabama. 10 years later, an old classmate from Possett appears in Arlene’s life and forces her to make the decision to break all three promises.
Accompanying Arlene on her journey back to Alabama is her African-American boyfriend/potential fiance, setting up a confrontation with Arlene’s racist relatives. Arlene also has to contend with her strong-willed Aunt Florence, who raised her when her own mother suffered mental illness. And she has to contend with the legacy of the popular high school quarterback, Jim Beverly. There’s also an unsolved murder. The murder is mentioned early in the book, so this is no spoiler, but the how and the why of the murder unfold over the narrative.
It’s an interesting and entertaining book that shifts from funny to dark on a dime. I think it gets a bit too contrived toward the end, but by that time I was too invested in the characters to be bothered too much. Of course, not knowing what exactly type of book this is helps in not anticipating its many twists.