Paula Vauss, called Kali Jai by her mother, spent the first twelve years of her life following in the wake of her free spirited mother, Ka, a story teller and devotee of Hindu mythology. Then Kai landed in jail and Paula ended up in foster care, and nothing was ever the same afterwards. Their tight bond was broken and they became estranged.
Now Paula has re-invented herself as a tough and successful Atlanta based divorce lawyer and tries to appease her conscience by sending her mother a cheque each month; The last one gets returned, along with a note from her mother 'I am going on a journey, Kali. I am going back to my beginning; death is not the end. You will be the end. We will meet again, and there will be new stories. You know how Karma works.' And Paula begins to find out Kai's deepest secrets...
Joshilyn Jackson writes novels set in the south, usually Alabama, they're fast moving, funny, quirky and definitely not marshmallow sweet like some southern novels. Ever since I read her first book, Gods in Alabama, her books have gone automatically on my wish list. I really enjoyed this one, it's a little slow to start, but soon speeds up. In some ways it's a little more predictable than her previous books, but that doesn't detract from it being a good read. There's a highly unusual use of kittens in the book too. Don't worry, nothing horrible happens to them, they get played with that all, but I thoroughly enjoyed the kitten part.
If you haven't come across Joshilyn Jackson before, do give her a go, but I'd advise starting with one of the earlier books. She often carries side charecters into the next book so it's more satisfying to start with the beginning even though they're all stand alones.
Amazon synopsis of Gods in Alabama:
This lively, funny and suspenseful first novel is crammed with defiantly endearing characters and twists to keep you on your toes. When Lena Fleet goes to college, she makes three promises to God: she will stop fornicating with every boy she meets; never tell another lie and never, ever go back to her hometown of Possett, Alabama. All she wants from God in return is that He makes sure the body is never found...But ten years later, it looks like God's going back on His deal. Lena's high school archenemy appears on her doorstep, looking for the golden haired football god who disappeared during their senior year. To make matters worse, her African Amercian boyfriend has issued her with an ultimatum - introduce him to her lily-white family or he's gone...While she would rather burn in a fire than let him meet her steel magnolia Aunt Florence, her half-mad Mama, her sweet-as-pecan-pie cousin Clarice and the rest of her eccentric and racist family, Lena realises it is time to go home to Alabama and confront the past once and for all...
An interesting first novel. Lena has tried hard to leave her past behind, but it is back to haunt her. Family ties are never easy to break, and as much as she has tried, the family matters drag her back. She is unwilling to return home to the Deep South as she has a black boyfriend, but when she does return, I didn't really feel they faced as much racialism as I would have expected. There is a good twist at the end, which wasn't too obvious. Funny and emotional, I look forward to more from this author.