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Rachel Reviews: gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson

Why doesn't Lena want to go home to Possett, Alabama? A book which explores the past, growing up, rites of passage and the ties that bind

By Rachel DeemingPublished about a month ago 2 min read
Rachel Reviews: gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson
Photo by Justin Wilkens on Unsplash

gods in Alabama is the story of Lena, also known as Arlene, who is faced with a dilemma: should she go to her Uncle Bruster's retirement party in her small hometown and stare down her family and her past demons; or should she cop out as she has done for the last ten years and keep a whole host of nasty memories and recollections at a distance?

There are two incidents that decide the result of this and one of them is the arrival on her doorstep of someone from her hometown of Possett who she doesn't like and was never expecting to visit her, never mind travel to Chicago where she is now based, to seek her out. This visit is one of the catalysts that propels Lena to weigh up what is important to her and make decisions which will mean confronting things that she would rather stay buried.

Lena is a lively narrator and her storytelling is threaded with humour throughout. She has an honest voice and we learn about her life with her mum, and then Aunt Florence and Uncle Bruster and their daughter, her cousin, Clarice. The plot of the book is about why Lena is so reluctant to return to Possett; why she keeps them at arm's length.

But this is a book which covers a lot of different issues, bringing them to light through Lena's story. There is the idea of family and the hold that they have over us. Jackson's novel also shows how assumptions can be made and how, when people are reluctant to discuss things or run away from them, gaps grow where before there's closeness and in those dark fissures, issues are allowed to fester. There is also racism and how it is reared through generations.

Lena takes us back to her teen days when she lived with Florence, Bruster and Clarice and we are shown the incidences in her past which have shaped her, but also her relationships with others. When something impactful happens at a young age, it leaves more than just a dent or an imprint on us and can mould and shape our thinking, especially if we are trying to protect others from the truth or further harm. These ideas are presented in the book through what happens to Lena and to important people around her.

Jackson is an insightful writer; humorous too.

Great read.

Rachel Rating: 4/5 stars

This review was first published on Reedsy Discovery:

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About the Creator

Rachel Deeming

Storyteller. Poet. Reviewer. Traveller.

I love to write. Check me out in the many places where I pop up:


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Comments (1)

  • Dharrsheena Raja Segarranabout a month ago

    At first I was like "Nahhhh, this doesn't seem like my kinda book" but my the end of your review, I've already added it to my TBR hahahahahahahha. Also, "The price of love is murder", that alone is enough for me to want to read the book hahahahaha. But what really piqued my interest is I really wanna know what happened in her past. I have a traumatic childhood, so it just made me very curious to know if Lena and I would have experienced similar thing. Loved your review!

Rachel DeemingWritten by Rachel Deeming

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