I totally suck. I wrote this post like 3 weeks ago but got interrupted and never finished it. I thought about it again tonight after recommending this book to Alison on FB. Sigh. Anyway, I'm not going to go back and see if this makes any sense, I'm just posting it as is.
I read a book last week. Actually, I read it New Year's Eve. The whole thing, start to finish. I'm pointing that out because I was pretty sure I'd never actually get the chance to finish a book again, at least not until Kaycie started school. But with her cooperation and Greg's help, I managed one more. I don't remember who recommended Gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson, but I have to tell you it was a good pick. However, it does get a parental warning for language, violence and sexual content, which, I have to admit surprised me.
In a lot of ways the book is about the relationship among Southern women, and the writer does a pretty good job of weaving the complexities that exist, particularly within family relationships. This book is narrated by a woman named Arlene who left Alabama when she went to college and made a promise to God that she'd never return, never again lie, and never again have sex, so long as nobody ever learned the secret she left behind. Of course she ends up having to go back after nine years away. She is destined to confront her overbearing aunt who raised her and her sweet Southern Belle cousin, who considered Arlene's lifestyle as a teenager to be an embarrassment of sins. And she takes her black boyfriend with her to meet her family. I have to say, I thought that was a nice touch, it created a whole different conflict and highlighted a few personality quirks in each member of her family. Arlene spends the book gradually telling the story of her childhood that forced her to leave.
About half way through the book I started to think the plot was predictable, I knew what was going to happen next. Three-quarters of the way through I realized most of my predictions were totally wrong, mostly because I began to realize that Arlene was not a trustworthy narrator. She may not ever lie, but that certainly doesn't mean everything she offers is the truth. That's what made this a good book. I started off thinking it was about one thing and realized at the end that it was really about something totally different. There's a strength in each of these women that defies expectations. The conflicts don't get totally resolved and the crimes aren't brought to justice, but in the end you feel good about the journey the characters have made. I also appreciated writing style, which felt like a combo of educated city girl meets Southern diva. I can relate to that.
In the end, I liked this one enough to order another book by the same author, Between, Georgia. Maybe I'll get to read it one day too.