Synopses & Reviews
When Arlene Fleet headed off to college in Chicago, she made three promises to God: She would never again lie, she would stop fornicating with every boy who crossed her path, and she'd never, ever go back to her tiny hometown of Possett, Alabama (the "fourth rack of Hell"). All God had to do in exchange was to make sure the body of high school quarterback Jim Beverly was never found.
Ten years later, Arlene has kept her promises, but an old school-mate has recently turned up asking questions. And now Arlene's African American beau has given her a tough ultimatum: introduce him to her family, or he's gone. As she prepares to confront guilt, discrimination, and a decade of deception, Arlene is about to discover just how far she will go to find redemption and love.
"Joshilyn Jackson's stellar debut has all the elements of great southern fiction, a plucky heroine with a sense of humor,a gripping tale and a mysterious dead body that needs explanation. Arlene Fleet, with a crystal clear voice and purpose takes the reader on a wild ride of despair, hope and redemption that no reader is likely to ever forget. What a storyteller! What a new, original voice!" Adriana Trigiani, bestselling author of Big Stone Gap and Lucia, Lucia
"This winning novel is the kind that readers crave: you can't stop turning the pages, but you wish it would never end." Christina Schwarz, author of Drowning Ruth and All is Vanity
"This bright, tender, eccentric novel grabbed me on page one and never let go. I'm sure Flannery O'Connor is smiling down at Joshilyn Jackson, for writing such a fine first novel of the deep south. Her phrases are so funny, true, and unexpected a joy to read. Be prepared for a heart-wrenching ride, all the way to redemption. Gods in Alabama is crazy good." Luanne Rice, author of Beach Girls and Dance With Me
"A likable new talent chained to a creaky old plot." Kirkus Reviews
"[A] potent mix of humor, murder, and a dysfunctional Southern family....While written for adults, this novel reminds us again that the teenage subculture is complex and powerful and that unholy acts may be committed in the name of love. Recommended." Library Journal
"The plot is so ambitious and full of twists, the reader may have a hard time getting a read on where the novel's headed....Readers should be aware that this is not a light Southern yarn." Dallas Morning News
"Cleverly disguised as a leisurely paced southern novel, this debut rockets to the end, even as the plot turns back on itself, surprising characters and readers alike. Book clubs will enjoy this saucy tale, as will fans of southern fiction with a twist." Booklist
"Gods in Alabama has everything a first (or any) novel should possess but seldom does....It's the kind of book you hate to finish but can't wait to pass on to friends." Cleveland Plain Dealer
"The plot, masterfully constructed, has more twists and turns than a wiggle worm on the end of a small hook. The heroine is a strong, calculating presence and her frequent disputes with her overbearing aunt add friction to a family drama already fraught with tension." Orlando Sentinel
When Arlene Fleet headed off to college in Chicago, she made three promises to God: She would never again lie, never fornicate outside marriage, and never, ever go back to her tiny hometown of Possett, Alabama. All God had to do in exchange was to make sure the body of high school quarterback Jim Beverly was never found. Ten years later, Arlene has kept her promises, but an old schoolmate has recently turned up asking questions. And now Arlene's African American beau has given her a tough ultimatum: introduce him to her family, or he's gone. As she prepares to confront guilt, discrimination, and a decade of deception, Arlene is about to discover just how far she will go to find redemption--and love.
In this stunning and award-winning debut novel, Jackson tells the story of a young woman whose future is threatened by a crime from her youth. A #1 Book Sense Pick.
About the Author
Joshilyn Jackson was born in the Deep South and raised by a tribe of wild fundamentalists who taught her to be virtuous and upright. Unfortunately, it didn't take, and Ms. Jackson dropped out of college to pursue a career as an actor. She worked in regional repertoire and traveled the southern third of the country with a dinner theatre troupe, but after a few years she realized that she preferred writing plays to acting in them.
She returned to school and graduated with honors from Georgia State University with a degree in English. While living in Atlanta, she worked as both a writer and actor with The Players, a children's theatre group. She moved to Chicago and managed to recover from a near-terminal case of culture shock just in time to earn her MA in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Ms. Jackson taught English at UIC, trying to explain the function of the gerund and why Moby Dick is a great book to crowds of hung-over 18 year olds. In her first year of teaching, she won the Student's Choice Award for Best English Instructor.
After graduate school she ran for warmer climes, returning to her hometown and marrying the boy next door. She currently lives just outside of Atlanta with her husband, their two children, and a twenty-three-pound, one-eyed Maine Coon cat named Franz Schubert.
Her children's play, Another Snow White, was produced by The Players in Atlanta. Her play Screwing Lazarus was produced by Pawme Productions at The Basement Theatre in Chicago, and played for sold out crowds for the entire run. She worked as a staff writer and then an editor for the Postfeminist Playground, a website that racked up a half a million hits by over a hundred thousand unique users each month.
She has worked as a writing consultant, a ghost writer, and sells humorous essays as web content to companies like American Greetings and SocialNet. Her short fiction has been published in literary magazines including TriQuarterly and Calyx, and her short story SixLips appeared in ChickLit II, FC2's anthology of up and coming female writers.
She is currently at work on her next novel, Between, Georgia, the story of a woman connected to two warring families, trying to find her place in both of them while their generations-old feud rages through their small town.