Cover Image: Boys of Alabama

Boys of Alabama

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Boys of Alabama was a thought provoking book about religion, sexuality, prejudices, racism with an added level of paranormal. This book wasn't my taste, but I have had a few students read it based off my recommendations and they loved it!
Was this review helpful?
I was given access to Boys of Alabama through Liveright Publishing for an honesty review. Thank you to them and Genevieve Hudson for the wonderful novel!

I overly excited about finally getting to read this novel. I've heard many good thing about it on social media. Max won my heart from the first chapter. It's never fun to be the new kid and even worse a new kid in a new country. The author added a little twist to the story. Max has powers that can bring animals and plants back to life. Between dealing with those powers and friendship lost, Max trying to just be normal. I was intrigued with Max questioning his sexuality. I feel like that is relatable for teens who are in the same boat. The author definitely approach the subject of religion exquisitely way. 

The only complaint I had about this book was Pan and Max's mother. Pan's character got a little bit on my last nerve. He was so self center and a user of Max's gullibility. As for Max's mother, I felt like she could have been involved in the story line. 

Over all this was a good read!!! I think this novel would make a good book selection for a book club. There are so many aspects that could be discuss and dissected!
Was this review helpful?
For classic fantasy lovers who are yearning for something new.

“Boys of Alabama” by Genevieve Hudson is the new and unique take on gothic fiction. Hudson takes the classic new kid in town story and added themes of class, gender, sexuality, and race, with also the important note on how easy it is to use upbringing and herd mentality to alter a person’s worldview. Using their personal upbringing in the south as inspiration, Hudson’s words quickly suck you into this southern fantasy. 

In the story, a German boy, Max, moves to Alabama after his father gets a new job. Hoping to leave past traumas, and his magical secret behind, Max welcomes the move. Once in his new town though, Max quickly understands that how different this new world is to his old one. Able to blend into the “new normal” with ease, it isn’t until he meets and falls in love with the class “witch” Pan, when he begins to question his quick acceptance to the town’s beliefs in faith, power, and identity.

Incredibly imaginative and deep, this story reminded me of a “Lord of the Flies”. I appreciated the multiple messages written into this novel and found it incredibly relevant to what is happening today.
Was this review helpful?
This book is needed. As an LGBTQ+ person from rural America, I could relate a lot from this book. In future classes I expect to adapt this to my syllabus. Overall, I really enjoyed reading it.
Was this review helpful?
The writing kept me reading. 
Hudson does such a great job painting a picture of the setting in rural Alabama that the place jumps off the page as a character itself, a critical character that is central to the story.
I received a free, advanced copy of this book from NetGalley, but I ended up listening to the audiobook after its release date. I didn't read any synopsis before diving into this book. So, I didn't see Max's power coming at all. Initially, everything seems fairly normal, but you quickly realize there is a supernatural element just beneath the surface. This seems fitting though because the town also has its secrets, both in the past and present, and those secrets slowly trickle to the surface as the book progresses.
Max is a German teenager who strives to fit into his new town and make friends. He starts playing football and gets involved with the election campaign of "the Judge." As the book unfolds, you learn about the dark side of the judge's religion.
My enjoyment of this book mostly came after finishing it and attempting to put all the pieces together. The plot was slow for the first half and I kept trying to figure out where we were going and what message the book was trying to send. The story seems full of symbolism and would be a great discussion book for a book club. Also, I'd love to hear the author's take on it. But sometimes the symbols seemed a little too obvious even if I wasn't exactly sure how they fit into the whole story.
With all that said, I will definitely read future books by this author because Hudson is a fantastic writer.
Was this review helpful?
Genevieve Hudson's "Boys of Alabama" is one of the strangest books I've read in a long time - which made it a deeply refreshing experience. I felt like I was always on the edge of my seat, waiting to see what would happen. The novel centers on Max, a German immigrant to the American South who struggles to navigate American culture, his own sexuality, and conflicting loyalties with a gender-fluid witch, Pan, and the boys of his football team. There is a strong and disorienting undercurrent of magical realism in this one - Max can restore life to dead plants and animals - but Max's general bewilderment with life made this easier to swallow. There is one editorial choice here that I question: Hudson eschews dialogue tags, which sometimes makes it difficult to know when a character is speaking. This one won't be everyone's cup of tea, but I think it will be worthwhile for patient readers and I especially enjoyed Pan's various incarnations of themself. A complex vision of a changing South and what it means to be different.
Was this review helpful?
Max is a sophomore in high school, so about 15 or 16 and his father has moved him and his mother to a tiny Alabama town. Max is looking fro a fresh start after losing his best friend and love of his life, Nils, to disease. Max has a secret power to raise dead things back to life--plant or animal--and he feels torn by guilt that he never tried to resurect Nils--and fears he may have accidentally done this just before Nils was buried. 

Max is a fast runner and he gets recruited to the football team of his small private high school, God's Way. The team and their friends are especially holy, Lorne's father the Judge is a prophet of sorts. Max doesn't understand the subtext, but there's talk about giving over sins and using snake venom or rat poison to purify the spirit. There's a huge current of "Jesus saves" and God-loving, which clashes with teenaged binge-drinking and what seems to be non-consensual sex perpetrated on the MC by his friend and fellow teammate. Max is both captivated by, and scared of, Pan the genderqueer witch of town. Pan discovers Max's power and serves as a confidante for Max, and his soft place to land when he needs one. Pan is a tentative sexual partner for Max and at least one other boy, it seems.

The prose is odd with nary a quotation mark to be found. It took a while for me to become accustomed to this. It is lilting and lyrical, told through Max's confused point of view, struggling to code-switch between his German roots and the Americana tableau of Alabama southern pride, guns, God, and football. It's the first time Max is seen as a boy worthy of friendship, his oddity is his foreignness, not his powers which he has fought to hide for years. Just as he's fitting in, he's giving away the only part of him that's special and unique, and that seems a pretty hefty metaphor. The end trauma is a hate crime--and it's brutally couched in trying to "save" a friend's immortal soul. I'm pretty sure that's what parents who send their kids to conversion therapy think, too. The snake-charming, possible poisonings were true cult action, and it seemed virtually no one was speaking out. There are only a few people who talk sense in the story, and they are relegated to the outer edges and diminished as accessory, or occult. Max venerates cultists and whack-jobs because they want him to belong to their arcane secret society. It's a dangerous paradigm that Max falls prey to, and Instead of calling it out, the end falls completely flat. It's written to be a Southern gothic, but the story landed off the mark to me.
Was this review helpful?
I think this is one I'm going to have read again and possible again.  I enjoy magical realism, but I think I let the writing style overwhelm my senses a little too much.  That's not to say I didn't enjoy it.  I did.  There is definitely something surreal about the writing style and I love when authors experiment with prose - but I think this time around, it took me a little too out of the book.  That said, now that I know what to expect I can go in and catch some of the things I may have missed during that initial read.
Was this review helpful?
Enjoyable. Not exactly what I was expecting but if you're looking for something different this is the book for you. I enjoyed the writing and look forward to more books by Genevieve Hudson. Take a look. See if it's something you'd like. Happy reading!
Was this review helpful?
It’s been awhile since I’ve love-hated a book as much as I enjoyed love-hating this one. Contradictory, obviously, but you’ve only had to read Maria McCann’s As Meat Loves Salt—or any other book that you loved hating, or hated loving, or didn’t even realize you liked it until you’d finished—to know precisely what I mean when I say that I wanted to chuck my kindle across the room and yet I couldn’t put this book down for want of seeing what the hell it was on about.

Delilah’s is a story in the Book of Judges, and while I would never presume that an author has used specific archetypes as metaphor on purpose, it’s difficult not to draw some connections to the biblical character and her betrayal of the Judge of Israel when reading this novel. Delilah, Alabama, is precisely the sort of place that would discover the source of a man’s strength, lop it off at that source, and then sacrifice him to the enemy.

The town’s very own Judge is the sort of spurious psychopomp who can, and does, use his own powers of deception to propagandize and weaponize his snake oil evangelism, and as I watched him wield this dogmatic fervor to very literally groom the story’s sixteen-year-old protagonist, Max, in ways that made me viscerally recoil (it was difficult not to perceive it with a Satan’s temptation of Christ element in their interactions), I applauded Genevieve Hudson for using this as well as other stereotypes—it’s all about God, guns, and football—to such skillful effect. At one point I made a review note that simply stated, “These people are vile,” a harsh and unfair generalization because, while I didn’t mean all of the characters—I related closely to Max’s mother, felt for Max, was intrigued by Pan (make connections to the Greek god at your pleasure), and wished some of the other minor characters had been more thoroughly explored—the stereotypes are such that I couldn’t contain my reaction to them, nor could I ignore my own ingrained biases. Those conventions do exist, though, not because all people but because enough people, and this combined with a romanticizing language that drew a picturesque landscape while populating it with the concepts of religious fervor, homophobia, violence, American excess, God and politics, God in politics, and throwing some of our most shameful history into the light of day, my savior complex dictated my yearning to rescue Max before he became irretrievably indoctrinated in this way of life.

Amongst its realism is a thread of magic that feeds the metaphorical aspects of the story, specifically in Max as resurrectionist. The Southern Gothic conventions are met with a horror that has nothing to do with the supernatural and everything to do with man’s inhumanity to man, what we teach boys about masculinity, how blithely certain words are thrown around in casual conversation, and how the urgency to fit in can be used to manipulate. Not noted should be content warnings for self-harm, rape, graphic violence, and the aforementioned homophobia, so readers should be cautious of those inclusions in the story before deciding to pick this one up. Additionally, Hudson’s choice to eliminate the use of quoted dialogue (i.e., there isn’t a quotation mark used in the entirety of the book) delivers Max’s journey as full-on narrative in which the author’s voice dictates rather than allowing me an immersive experience with Max telling his own story. It took a while to adapt to the delivery and is most definitely an acquired taste.

Boys of Alabama packs an impactful emotional punch and succeeds in painting a none-too-flattering picture of the times and then reflects it back to its readers in striking ways.
Was this review helpful?
This book caught my attention at the "The Hour of Star" quote by Clarice Lispector. It's one of my exquisite-favorite book by non-American authors. 
It's good, but it's not for me.
Was this review helpful?
Welcome to this Book/ARC review, 

I want to start of by saying that my opinions are my own and not affected by the free advanced reader copy that I received of this book.

Also sorry for my absence, these are difficult time and for my mental health I had to stay away from anything that is or could be social media related.

Now without further do here are my thoughts.

It is not often that I have little to nothing to say about a book I have read.

It was a unique writing style that did need a few pages to get used to, I enjoyed the characters, they weren't the WOW I will remember you all my life type of characters and it was a nice coming of age story but it did not resonate with me as other books have in the past. 

I feel that I mainly felt that way because the author seemed to want to integrate too many themes that need a lot of building and time in a book such as a cult-like part of the story, southern culture and homophobia.  

This book fell in a weird place where these things weren't badly presented but rather did not have the proper time to expand to their full potential and the fact that they were all there, without mentioning the heartbreaks, love and such in the story, made for a rushed ending and a book that is just okay. 

Not a favourite, but neither a worst. 

My most hated types of books honestly, or one of, it just won't stick with me and I probably will never think about it or remember any details about it in a week. 

Overall okay.

2.75/5 stars 

Was this review helpful?
This is the story of Max, whose family moves to Alabama from Germany for his father's job. He starts attending a private Christian school and joins the football team. He becomes enamored with the town "witch." Sounds fun, right? NOT. Max also has some strange power and the town he moves to has some crazy stuff going on. So, I found this book interesting and gave it four stars because I enjoyed the writing and I thought the author really caught the essence of the South and the Southern Gothic in a modern way. The past and present colliding, the oppressive heat, the feeling of death and rebirth, the spectre of religious fanaticism. All that. I really thought that was innovative. I liked the magical realism aspect and how everything seemed kind of hazy, like watching something throw a dirty window.

BUT, I still found this book to be a little uneven. Maybe a little too magic, not enough realism. A little too fanatic, not enough religion. It was unclear a lot of the time what was actually going on and who was in on it. At times things would happen and my jaw would drop and I'd think, No, impossible. Surely not. Things happened and there was so recourse, no resolution, no context for understanding. And then it ends...It just ends at a point where I felt I was just getting a handle on where we were going. I didn't need a happy ending, just some kind of resolution!
Was this review helpful?
I tried really hard to love this book. I love magical realism, and was really into the manic pixie dream boy that is Pan. But i just couldnt, this writing style was not for me. I spent 2 weeks just reading the first half because it was so slow going. The plot never seemed to move. So finally i started to just skim the second half to try to find some action to get me interested, but when i finally found it, it was so convoluted that i couldn't make sense of it. This book has a very surrealist tone to it, which i wasnt expecting and had a difficult time following. I can see how some people could love this book, but it just wasnt for me.
Was this review helpful?
I’m having horrible luck lately with arcs. This is another one I was so excited for but I really couldn’t get into the writing style. It has a lot of potential though and I think if readers aren’t bothered by the style they’ll like Boys Of Alabama so I’m giving it a neutral three stars.
Was this review helpful?
I so wanted to love BOYS OF ALABAMA by Genevieve Hudson, but it just wasn't the book for me. I was completely intrigued by the premise of a high school teenage boy moving from the cosmopolitan Germany to a small town in Alabama, and how he integrates himself into the football scene while, at the same time, coming to terms with his sexuality and grieving a best friend he left behind. It has all the makings of a wonderful novel that is right up my alley, but I just couldn't fully get into the story or accept these horrible characters who push for things I would never agree with. I know, it's fiction and it's important to read stories about people whose views you do not agree with, but perhaps since I'm reading it in May of 2020, it just doesn't sit well for me right now.

There's a lot going on: religion, the supernatural, sexuality, coming-of-age, politics. Hudson backs a lot into this short book which is extremely admirable. It just wasn't my cup of tea, the way it was presented. I had a hard time following what was going on and didn't connect or fall in love with any of the characters. There should be a few trigger warnings (assault, violent death, fatphobia, animal abuse, etc). The end was a nice surprise, though one I could kind of see coming, and I loved the allusions to the southern gothic tradition. It's an admirable first novel, just not a book for me personally.
Was this review helpful?
The story follows a young man named Max, who has recently moved from Germany to Alabama with his parents.  Max, who is still grieving from a recent emotional loss, strives to fit into this new and strange environment. He's taken in by some boys on the football team, and he soon finds himself thrust in a world of extreme conservative values, toxic masculinity, and religious zealotry (complete with speaking in tongues and snake handling).  And even though Max has to endure endless "Nazi" jokes, strangely enough, he thrives in this new environment.

But his new beliefs are put to question once he meets the enigmatic Pan, a colorful cross-dressing new age witch.  But Max is also hiding a secret:  he possesses supernatural abilities which he's certain most people wouldn't understand and for which many people would condemn him.  

Pan learns Max's secret, however, which causes the two boys to grow closer until romantic feelings develop between them. It's worth noting that both Max and Pan have somewhat dark and disturbing histories they are attempting to deal with, adding an extra intrigue to the narrative.

As Max tries to balance his feelings for Pan with his devotion to his new football friends, dark secrets emerge about the town, especially the bewitching, charismatic Judge who has taken Max under his wing.  We soon learn that the town's religious practices may be not only dangerous but also sinister.

What we end up with here then, is kind of a southern gothic novel in which our main character is struggling with his sexuality and paranormal abilities, while trying to fit into his strange, new world.  I really enjoyed the supernatural element to this story and how Max struggled to make sense of and control his powers.  

There's real depth to the story which delves into themes of grief, loneliness, fitting in, homophobia, religious zealotry, heartbreak, cruelty, and figuring out whom to trust. It's a richly imaginative and evocative tale that explores some pretty dark themes.  

Readers interested in gender identity and the pull of family, religion, and history will find this to be an engrossing exploration of these and other powerful themes.  While many of the book's themes are dark and even disturbing, it's just so darn entertaining.

Now there was one thing that I disliked about this novel, but it had nothing to do with the story but rather the grammar — namely the lack of quotation marks to set apart dialog from the rest of the narrative.  I have to say that lack of quotes around dialog consistently pulled me out of the story and really diminished my enjoyment of it, as often,  I had to reread sections in order to determine whether the passages were inner monologue or spoken dialog.  

There were also no chapter markers, but this didn't bother me as much as the lack of quotations. I'm not sure the reasoning behind this — maybe it's to make a story more ethereal or stream of consciousness?  Whatever the reason, it didn't work for me, and I found it annoying.  
I also thought the ending was a tad vague and abrupt.  This is just a personal preference of mine as I tend to dislike open-ended stories or ambiguous conclusions. So if such endings don't bother you, then you'll definitely want to give the story a go as it was quite a unique and compelling tale.

All in all, I found Boys of Alabama to be lush, gripping, and ethereal, making you feel like you've been enraptured by some old southern fairy tale that, oddly, seems totally modern at the same time.  Rich and complex characters populate the narrative, whose stories come together to weave a dark and intricate tale that draws you in until the very end. Despite my issues with the ending and the punctuation, I ended up enjoying this story.  

So if you love your stories dark, dramatic, mysterious, macabre, weird, tense, and thrilling, then look no further!!
Was this review helpful?
The concept of this book is so interesting (and unique!), and the writing is honestly nothing short of superb, but unfortunately, for me there were certain plotting decisions that made it difficult for me to love this book as much as I thought I would. The first thing - and I'll acknowledge that this is more personal than the others - is that I thought Max was too much of an observer; it was so, so rare that he'd push back or even consider so much of what happens around him. I'm thinking mainly of the Judge's propaganda speeches here. Like, every word that man spoke was so, so loaded, and I just felt that there should have been WAY more reaction to that from Max than we got. ESPECIALLY at the end. It felt, a lot of the times, like Max was just looking around, and it also felt, quite a bit, like the writing was just skimming. There were SO MANY scenes that I thought should've gone on for longer than they did. In a book that didn't have this element of magical realism I think this style would've worked just fine (especially since it absolutely plays to Hudson's strengths as a writer), but because there was magical realism involved I felt like certain things needed to be explored more fully. Again: especially at the end.

So, so much happens in those final thirty or so pages. It feels like half the book's action is crammed in there.  And I couldn't help but throw up my hands at the ending and think, okay, but what happens after that? And I'm not even talking about the magical realism aspect; I'm thinking more of the relationships here. Where does Max stand with the Judge after this? What about his mom? It felt too abrupt, especially after the way everything was built up.

But, you know, up until the last act, I was really, really enjoying this book. I don't think I've read another quite like it. And for that reason I think any reader who's at all pulled in by the summary should give it a shot. For me, I didn't think it ended up being all that it could've been, but another reader could absolutely feel differently.
Was this review helpful?
"I love how en vogue dead bodies are around here." -Boys of Alabama, by Genevieve Hudson

This book was my introduction to Genevieve Hudson. The writing and technique were fine but I just did not click with the characters. None of them. I did not understand Max, I did not agree with him on most of his opinions and choices. This story was not enjoyable to me. The beginning of Part 3 got exciting with the ghosts, paranormal, the visiting of the haunted asylum, but it was short-lived. 

The story had a lot of potential; I particularly enjoyed reading about seeing the South through a foreigner's eyes. I patiently waited to see where Max's power was going to take me; I was hoping it was going to lead to something exciting, something big, but the resolve was a let-down.

I am still giving it a 3-star for the writing quality.

Thank you Net Galley and  Liveright for this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
This story was so strange and intriguing, I still don't really know what to think of it because it's so unique. 

The novel follows a teenage boy, Max, who has moved from Berlin to Alabama. Max has the secret power of being able to heal animals and bring them back from the dead, however, Max views this power as a curse. The story follows Max's experience moving to Southern USA, his friendship with a witch at his school named Pan, his emerging sexuality, along with a religious cult whose leader is brainwashing the town. 

It was ... a lot. A lot of plot lines and themes that would have worked a bit better if the ending was a bit more fleshed out and if the book was longer in general. I thought the book was going to go one way, but near the end, things just took such a big turn and happened so fast. I don't think I fully understood the meaning of this story or the point it was trying to make. Maybe I'm just dumb but I sort of wish I had someone to explain it to me. 

Besides a bit of confusion near the end, I genuinely enjoyed this book and was so interested in what would happen, solely because I had never read a book like this before. There were no chapters, which made the book flow a bit like a dream sequence, which is what reading it felt like. It was a weird combination of magic, sexuality, desire, religion, and uncertainty, and I thought it was really interesting to read! I would recommend it to anyone, simply because I want everyone to experience the uniqueness of it.
Was this review helpful?