A while back I posted about a book called, A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty by Joshilyn Jackson. Since then I have read and enjoyed several more of Jackson’s books, and I want to share my thoughts on each book and encourage readers to discover this author just as I did.
My favorite of Jackson’s books is her debut novel, Gods in Alabama. In this book we meet Arlene Fleet who left Possett, Alabama and promised never to return. For over ten years, she kept her promise and stayed far away from Alabama. Despite her attempts to separate herself from Possett and her past, Arlene’s past, present, and future begin to intertwine. In an attempt to satisfy her determined relatives, increasingly less patient boyfriend and persistent childhood acquaintance, she finds herself breaking many of her promises and returning to Alabama. At first the reader doesn’t know what is keeping Arlene away but as the story unfolds through a series of flashbacks we begin to understand. This story is full of twists and turns and memorable characters.
After reading Gods in Alabama, I read Between, Georgia. This book’s main character is Nonny Frett, whose biological mother Hazel Crabtree gave birth to her and then left her to be raised by the Frett family. The Crabtrees and the Fretts have hated each other since before Nonny was born and are involved in a modern day Hatfield and McCoy style feud. Nonny’s adoption only added to the hatred between the two very different families. Now Nonny is all grown up and the feud is still continuing and Nonny finds herself still stuck between two towns, two families and two men. Just like Joshilyn Jackson’s other books this book demonstrates Jackson’s ability to tell a compelling story.
Besides being compelling stories, Joshilyn Jackson’s books have other similarities as well. Her books have common themes and common character types. It might not seem possible to have similar themes in all Jackson’s books without duplicating plotlines and characters; however, Jackson makes it work. Each book is unique but very obviously written by the same author. I had the pleasure of listening to these books as audiobooks. The charm of these books was multiplied by the narrator's Southern accent. I looked up the narrator and discovered that Between, Georgia and A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty were both read by the author. I highly recommend the audio versions but the print books are great too. The author has two other books which I haven’t read yet: Backseat Saints and The Girl Who Stopped Swimming. All the books I’ve mentioned are available at the library, so check our catalog.
Have you read Joshilyn Jackson’s books and are looking for similar books? I think fans of Joshilyn Jackson would also enjoy reading Fannie Flagg books and vice versa.