Boys of Alabama
In this bewitching debut novel, a sensitive teen, newly arrived in Alabama, falls in love, questions his faith, and navigates a strange power. While his German parents don’t know what to make of a South pining for the past, shy Max thrives in the thick heat. Taken in by the football team, he learns how to catch a spiraling ball, how to point a gun, and how to hide his innermost secrets.Max already expects some of the raucous behavior of his new, American friends—like their insatiable hunger for the fried and cheesy, and their locker room talk about girls. But he doesn’t expect the comradery—or how quickly he would be welcomed into their world of basement beer drinking. In his new canvas pants and thickening muscles, Max feels like he’s “playing dress-up.” That is until he meets Pan, the school “witch,” in Physics class: “Pan in his all black. Pan with his goth choker and the gel that made his hair go straight up.” Suddenly, Max feels seen, and the pair embarks on a consuming relationship: Max tells Pan about his supernatural powers, and Pan tells Max about the snake poison initiations of the local church. The boys, however, aren’t sure whose past is darker, and what is more frightening—their true selves, or staying true in Alabama.Writing in verdant and visceral prose that builds to a shocking conclusion, Genevieve Hudson “brilliantly reinvents the Southern Gothic, mapping queer love in a land where God, guns, and football are king” (Leni Zumas, author of Red Clocks). Boys of Alabama becomes a nuanced portrait of masculinity, religion, immigration, and the adolescent pressures that require total conformity.

Boys of Alabama Details

TitleBoys of Alabama
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMay 19th, 2020
PublisherLiveright
ISBN-139781631496295
Rating
GenreLGBT, Fiction, Contemporary, Young Adult, GLBT, Queer, Magical Realism, Gay, Fantasy, Literary Fiction, Paranormal

Boys of Alabama Review

  • Laxmama
    January 1, 1970
    ARC Generously provided by NetgalleyI finished this book a few days ago, this book had me thinking days after finishing yet still not an easy one to review. Writing style was unique, at the start a bit of an adjustment (no punctuation or quotation) and it took me a bit to get into but once it picked up I could not put it down. Max , a teen moves to Alabama from Germany, he feels the cultural changes, language difficulties, figuring out where he fits in socially, and exploring his sexuality. Ther ARC Generously provided by NetgalleyI finished this book a few days ago, this book had me thinking days after finishing yet still not an easy one to review. Writing style was unique, at the start a bit of an adjustment (no punctuation or quotation) and it took me a bit to get into but once it picked up I could not put it down. Max , a teen moves to Alabama from Germany, he feels the cultural changes, language difficulties, figuring out where he fits in socially, and exploring his sexuality. There is a heavy gothic southern feel to this book due to the paranormal/powers Max is learning to deal with. I enjoyed so much of this story, boys coming of age, falling for someone, unrequited feelings, heartbreak, the story of being young, confused and finding your place with your fiends, figuring out who to trust. I was also taken by how well she wrote about football, you could feel how a boy could love the game and the bond of being a team. For me If felt as the author tried to put too many messages in the book and much of it had holes or felt unresolved. There was the storyline of the Judge and his cult-like following, Max’s relationship with his dad mentioned a few times, the southern religious town culture, homophobia - Max ‘s mother who appears to be the only redeemable character. The uncle ? Max’s powers and lastly the.very strange and abrupt ending I enjoyed this overall I was both confused and irritated by all the excess and unanswered.
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  • Paris (parisperusing)
    January 1, 1970
    Outstandingly original. Unlike anything you’ll ever read today.RtC
  • Eugenia
    January 1, 1970
    I loved this book! But......This is a tough book to review. Why?First, it's a unique blend of a paranormal, a coming of age, and a cultural exchange book.It sets our protagonist from Germany in a small town in Alabama. Back in Germany, he was nothing special, but here as a student in an Evangelical Christian school, he is very popular. Taken in by the football boys, he begins a stereotypical American teen high school indoctrination: parties. Different from other typical tales is the strong evang I loved this book! But......This is a tough book to review. Why?First, it's a unique blend of a paranormal, a coming of age, and a cultural exchange book.It sets our protagonist from Germany in a small town in Alabama. Back in Germany, he was nothing special, but here as a student in an Evangelical Christian school, he is very popular. Taken in by the football boys, he begins a stereotypical American teen high school indoctrination: parties. Different from other typical tales is the strong evangelical wave moving this story along. I'm not sure what to make of it. How much is playing off of stereotypes? I mean, we hear tongues. We see snakes. We see boys talking about being saved while they drink by a bonfire.Along with this odd clashing of German and Southern evangelical cultures the author brings in a touch of the paranormal. I would not call it magical realism. This is straight up magic and there is nothing realistic about it. Our protagonist can bring things back to life.What this skill had to do with this tale is something that I'm still pondering. Was is there only for the final scene? Was it there as another source of "otherness" in this tale? Was it there to woo his love interest? Something to confide with someone? I'm not sure and I it's for this reason that I don't know how to review the book.It felt as if two tales were presented and they never really came together. Both storylines simply came to an abrupt end after much buildup. An end that, perhaps was inevitable, but as to what purpose I'm not sure. But maybe that's the point.That being said, I really enjoyed the writing style of this book. It felt fresh. We saw no quotations for dialogue and after a bit of adjustment, I didn't notice their absence. The style also reflected some of the cultural clash between Germany, Alabama and the paranormal. How, I can't really explain except to say that it felt as different as bringing these three things together could be.My rec? If you love coming of age books, I say go for it!!**This book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley for the purposes of an unbiased review.**
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  • Erik
    January 1, 1970
    "Boys of Alabama" is a unique take on Southern Gothic; Genevieve Hudson uses her debut novel to rewrite and queer the rules of a classic genre of American literature.Max and his family have recently relocated to Alabama from their home in Germany. On top of the task of learning English, with a Southern twang, Max struggles to understand and control this odd power he possesses: anything he touches that has died is suddenly brought back to life. Combine these powers with his new burgeoning queer d "Boys of Alabama" is a unique take on Southern Gothic; Genevieve Hudson uses her debut novel to rewrite and queer the rules of a classic genre of American literature.Max and his family have recently relocated to Alabama from their home in Germany. On top of the task of learning English, with a Southern twang, Max struggles to understand and control this odd power he possesses: anything he touches that has died is suddenly brought back to life. Combine these powers with his new burgeoning queer desire in a cultural context that is overflowing with Pentecostal fervor, and the scene is set for a strange tale of teen love, paranormal powers, and theological questions.Unfortunately, Hudson tries to do a bit too much in her book: a majority of the books characters, encompassing people from conservative, Pentecostal backgrounds in Alabama, lack depth and seem rather to be the exact caricatures you'd expect to populate a book that is a bit too on-the-nose in its critique of the deep South. The shallowness with his the characters are painted means that emotional connection readers would normally feel to someone from a Southern gothic tale is missing: there's no queen to make you pity and sigh, no man who is destroyed by his own masculinity. There are attempts at these characters, but, lacking depth, they leave you wishing you got to know them a little more."Boys of Alabama" is trying to do something really unique and important: make Southern gothic explicitly queer and tell stories about a region that is perpetually, culturally forgotten. It misses the mark a bit, but the tale is one worth telling.
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  • Mimi
    January 1, 1970
    I don't know what was worse, the horrendous attempt at writing a German protagonist moving to Alabama who is apparently fluent in English but would then go around saying sentences like "I will like you to come over. please yes." (like, girl, you could have at least TRIED to research common mistakes Germans make when learning a foreign language instead of making up shit like "sex butterfly") or the fact that there was an actual rape scene in this and no one thought to mention that. "Exploring you I don't know what was worse, the horrendous attempt at writing a German protagonist moving to Alabama who is apparently fluent in English but would then go around saying sentences like "I will like you to come over. please yes." (like, girl, you could have at least TRIED to research common mistakes Germans make when learning a foreign language instead of making up shit like "sex butterfly") or the fact that there was an actual rape scene in this and no one thought to mention that. "Exploring your sexuality. Experimenting." - yeah, that's not an excuse for putting rape into a book that's geared toward young adults who might pick this up thinking it was about a boy discovering sexuality. I am so done.
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    I received an ARC from the publisher, opinions are my own. [very mild spoilers ahead]I've been a big fan of Genevieve Hudson's writing for a while. PRETEND WE LIVE HERE is one of my all-time favorite books, as is A LITTLE IN LOVE WITH EVERYONE, and I usually make a point to track down her stories in lit mags because there's something about the style and imagery in her work that just vines around my heart and linguistic soul and blooms flowers in my chest. BOYS OF ALABAMA does this too. It is bot I received an ARC from the publisher, opinions are my own. [very mild spoilers ahead]I've been a big fan of Genevieve Hudson's writing for a while. PRETEND WE LIVE HERE is one of my all-time favorite books, as is A LITTLE IN LOVE WITH EVERYONE, and I usually make a point to track down her stories in lit mags because there's something about the style and imagery in her work that just vines around my heart and linguistic soul and blooms flowers in my chest. BOYS OF ALABAMA does this too. It is both like and unlike the other writing of hers I've read, and wholly unlike any other novels I've read. It's told (in close third person) from the perspective of Max, a German teen who moves to Alabama with his parents for his father's car manufacturing job. The ways in which Max navigates the culture and landscape of this new place, which is both like and unlike his home, are explored in the halting, haunting, gorgeous prose of someone who comes to understand the language of a place -- both literal and figurative -- as an outsider. Max has histories and secrets he struggles to reckon with; the boys he befriends have the same. Max's inner life is so engrossing, it's hard to look away from; I read this book in 2 days (for me that's really fast). As he falls in love with Pan, a goth witchy kid (and a character that shatters any early glimmers of manic pixie dream person vibes), and simultaneously feels the irresistible pull of the cult-y evangelism of both football and the Judge (an actual evangelist with political aspirations), Max becomes increasingly unsteady. He grasps for things that will ground him with growing desperation. The climax and ending of this book is so unsettling and surprising, written with such fire, that I had to sit quietly and stare into space for like 10 full minutes.In this book, the prose is as hot and melty as an Alabama summer, an abundance of life and death at the same time. There are SO many layers that no review can do it justice. Queerness, secrets, the inheritance of evil, the burdens and sweetness of choosing life and what that even means are all major themes. I'll just leave it here and say, I am floored and I can't wait to read more Gen Hudson writing forever. Highly recommend!
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  • T Madden
    January 1, 1970
    Phew. Obsessed with this novel and all things Genevieve Hudson. BOYS OF ALABAMA is a shapeshifting story of queer witchy love in the American deep south. This book is creeping vines and verdant desire. It’s a study of belief systems both true and terrifying. Hudson dismantles and spins a new category of fairy tale for us, one that’s equal parts dirt and splendor; a glinting, dark beauty; an incantation. This will surprise you at every turn, destroy you by its end, and make you believe in magic. Phew. Obsessed with this novel and all things Genevieve Hudson. BOYS OF ALABAMA is a shapeshifting story of queer witchy love in the American deep south. This book is creeping vines and verdant desire. It’s a study of belief systems both true and terrifying. Hudson dismantles and spins a new category of fairy tale for us, one that’s equal parts dirt and splendor; a glinting, dark beauty; an incantation. This will surprise you at every turn, destroy you by its end, and make you believe in magic. Astonished, as ever, by Hudson's language, her lens, and the sheer playfulness in these aching pages. It's everything at once.
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  • Iris
    January 1, 1970
    ***edit: There are trigger warnings at the bottom of this review! I think you can enjoy this book if you are prepared for the dark themes.I don't know what I thought I was getting into, but it definitely was not that.This is a weird book to review, because so much is happening, and points aren't dwelled on for long. I feel like this book traumatized me, and not in any sort of cathartic way. It was written well, sure. But the characters just kept escalating the situation, and there was no cathars ***edit: There are trigger warnings at the bottom of this review! I think you can enjoy this book if you are prepared for the dark themes.I don't know what I thought I was getting into, but it definitely was not that.This is a weird book to review, because so much is happening, and points aren't dwelled on for long. I feel like this book traumatized me, and not in any sort of cathartic way. It was written well, sure. But the characters just kept escalating the situation, and there was no catharsis, no relief. While I don't have a problem with the plot per se, the inner world of the main character did not feel developed or true. Nothing felt rational. I found it hard to care about the main character when everyone he loved was telling him he was doing the wrong thing, and he still followed through. Yes, the southern gothic feel was there sometimes, but other than that the characters annoyed me to bits.I leave this book horrified. I should have just put the book down, but by the time you realize where the book will go you are already past the halfway point. I read this to support the nonbinary author, but damn, I don't know about this one.TWs: homophobic slurs, Christian based homophobia, gay-bashing, rape, hate-crime, Christian based cult
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  • W.
    January 1, 1970
    Boys of Alabama is a well-written , poignant, relevant and realistic told story. My husband is from a small town in Alabama . While reading Boys of Alabama , I pictured that town and some of the inhabitants as the perfect setting for this story.I just reviewed Boys of Alabama by Genevieve Hudson. #BoysofAlabama #NetGalley
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  • Brianna Carrasco
    January 1, 1970
    ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 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 ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 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. Check out my Bookstagram!
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  • Tess
    January 1, 1970
    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 stor 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.
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  • Mairy
    January 1, 1970
    "I love how en vogue dead bodies are around here." -Boys of Alabama, by Genevieve HudsonThis 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 "I love how en vogue dead bodies are around here." -Boys of Alabama, by Genevieve HudsonThis 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.
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  • Dominic
    January 1, 1970
    Some reading experiences feel like a revelation, and that's exactly what reading Boys of Alabama was. I had high hopes for it, but honestly I didn't know exactly what to expect. What I got was a story I felt in my gut, that dug under my skin, rather than just "having read." If I had to compare it to something, I'd compare it to Jesmyn Ward's Salvage the Bones, both in its deft understanding of adolescent hunger and its expert, gritty representation of the American South that is both a critique a Some reading experiences feel like a revelation, and that's exactly what reading Boys of Alabama was. I had high hopes for it, but honestly I didn't know exactly what to expect. What I got was a story I felt in my gut, that dug under my skin, rather than just "having read." If I had to compare it to something, I'd compare it to Jesmyn Ward's Salvage the Bones, both in its deft understanding of adolescent hunger and its expert, gritty representation of the American South that is both a critique and a letter of promise. I remember reading Bones for the first time and thinking, damn I've not seen something quite like this before.The prose has an energy to it that also reminds me of Ward's work, and Hudson is able to mix the literary and the experimental with a story that would appeal to teenagers as well as adults. I also really enjoyed the supernatural element; one of the teenage characters must reckon with the gift/curse of being able to bring animals (and maybe humans) back from the dead. Apart from this one element (which is still enough to intrigue scifi or fantasy fans, I think), the book explores very real concerns—the chains of masculinity that weigh boys down, the promises both mystical and false of evangelical religion, and the pain of burrowing out of the cocoon of adolescence.Several scenes floored me—particularly one between the protagonist who has a moment of doubt about his sexuality and a female friend—a scene like nothing I've seen before. I appreciate the originality at the heart of this novel, and the way it lets the reader find magic in all the many crannies of its story.I haven't felt this bereft at having to let go of a character in a long time. Both Pan and Max are wonderful queer characters, but oh Max, he seemed so pure and real! It reminded me of that first time I read Perks of Being a Wallflower, and I was like, damn, I feel so much for Charlie and his pain. I usually don't like sequels to books, but I make an exception for this one! I did not want to let this story end—and yet, the finale was extraordinary in its beauty and its ambiguity.This ARC was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Haley Bracken
    January 1, 1970
    A mesmerizing reinvention of the Southern Gothic genre that feels at once familiar and novel; confident prose and compelling characters; and an ambiguous, open-to-interpretation ending.
  • Kevin
    January 1, 1970
    I've been lucky enough to see Genevieve Hudson ace the critical nonfiction/memoir hybrid, followed by her overwhelmingly wondrous short story collection, and now she kills it with her first novel, a coming-of-age queer southern fish-out-of-water story. Boy of Alabama stars Max, a German teen who tries to figure out where he fits in his new small-town Alabama home. But it's not as simple as that. Max is coming to terms with not only his sexuality but also his remarkable life-giving power, which h I've been lucky enough to see Genevieve Hudson ace the critical nonfiction/memoir hybrid, followed by her overwhelmingly wondrous short story collection, and now she kills it with her first novel, a coming-of-age queer southern fish-out-of-water story. Boy of Alabama stars Max, a German teen who tries to figure out where he fits in his new small-town Alabama home. But it's not as simple as that. Max is coming to terms with not only his sexuality but also his remarkable life-giving power, which he tries to keep secret. Soaked in an environment that worships football as much as its strange church culture, Boys of Alabama feels a bit like a queer and magical Harry Crews novel if you can imagine that. Hudson's descriptive scene-setting, lean prose, and complex cast of characters make this novel feel alternately like a wild fever dream and an aching heart.
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  • Lu
    January 1, 1970
    I received this book from NetGalley in exchange of an honest review.TW: death, brainwashing, rape, homophobia, internalized and not, poisoning, violence towards people and animalsI was really excited to read this book and so happy my wish came true! Boys of Alabama is a very intense novel, a coming-of-age story. Max's family moved from Germany to Alabama for his father's job and the sixteen years old boy has to adapt to the life here. It was interesting reading about how, slowly because of the l I received this book from NetGalley in exchange of an honest review.TW: death, brainwashing, rape, homophobia, internalized and not, poisoning, violence towards people and animalsI was really excited to read this book and so happy my wish came true! Boys of Alabama is a very intense novel, a coming-of-age story. Max's family moved from Germany to Alabama for his father's job and the sixteen years old boy has to adapt to the life here. It was interesting reading about how, slowly because of the linguistic barrier, Max starts to understand common sayings, how to fit in, or try to, with the football team he's part of, since he's a very good runner, how to make friends and so on. A sensitive and shy boy, Max hides a secret and a painful loss and right away he finds himself attracted to the city's "witch", Pan, who is sensitive and weird, who wears lipstick, dresses and makeup. As they start an intense relationship, falling hard in love with each other, Pan discovers Max's secret and everything changes.Boy of Alabama is a very peculiar novel. The writing style is a bit unique (For example: How can you understand? Max asked) without any inverted commas, so, it took me a while to get into the story, but, once in it, it captured me. It's a beautiful and intense novel with so many important themes, from immigration, faith, love, sexism, homophobia. It shows how Max was pressured, how any adolescent can be pressured, into accepting some things and thoughts. Living in a religious city, surrounded by religious classmates, Max finds himself involved, almost pushed, into their faith.Interesting and cruel figure is the Judge and how, through God's word, or what he thinks it's God's word, he's violent and abusive, expecially towards his son and ideas that don't conform with his ones. In this situation, Max is almost torn in two, between the pull of the charismatic Judge, the want to be part of the community, of the football team, and his desire and love for Pan, who is an outsider in the school and with their friends, proud of his ideas, his clothes, his sexuality. The relationship between Pan and Max is intense and complicated by past lovers, strange powers and Max's inability to choose between Pan and the Judge's charismatic figure. Their bond is really complex and it's clear Max's attraction for Pan, his love for him, how they care for each other.Max's coming of age, his growing, is seen, too, through snippet of conversations between his parents and his mother and aunt. His mother, suffering from the move and her inability to adapt and accept their new life, sees his changes and she's worried, while his father is open to Max experimenting things, having friends, changing his diet and so on.It's clear, in some parts, how deep was the Judge's brainwashing in the football team (and in the city), how he was believed and followed, how they believed his lies and manipulations, above all with the poisoning and what they believe sin was and how to banish it. There is in Lorne an internalized homophobia and his relationship with Pan, Max and his father was really interesting and I wanted to know more.This book deals with a lot of important themes, seeing them through Max's eyes. Being from Germany, Max has to endure "Nazi" jokes, his inability, at first, to comprehend the inner meanings of the language. It shows how he adapts to his life, while struggling with a magical power, its characteristics complex and that scared him, his being gay, falling in love and how to fit his sexuality in a religious city.I found the ending a bit abrupt and it left me wanting for more and this novel is beautiful, intense and really unique.
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  • Energy
    January 1, 1970
    Max's family moves to Alabama from Germany, and while he can speak some English, he can't always articulate how different this world is from the one he left. In this town, boys play football, and so Max joins the team because of his love for running. There's a bit of everyone on the team but the one thing that stood out for me was the level of cruelty in some of these boys. Max has also made a friend outside of the team named Pan, and Pan is a self-proclaimed witch of sorts, and their friendship Max's family moves to Alabama from Germany, and while he can speak some English, he can't always articulate how different this world is from the one he left. In this town, boys play football, and so Max joins the team because of his love for running. There's a bit of everyone on the team but the one thing that stood out for me was the level of cruelty in some of these boys. Max has also made a friend outside of the team named Pan, and Pan is a self-proclaimed witch of sorts, and their friendship introduces Max to a whole slew of other concepts he knew nothing about. It also allows Max to reveal a secret he's never told, anyone. There was a lot going on in this one, from the creepy judge, to the church, to the football team, and Pan and Max's abilities, it was a lot to wrap your head around. I think the various elements are what kept this at a slow read for me, and it just wasn't the right fit for my preferences. I think with the right audience, this would be a very enjoyable read, it just wasn't for me.
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  • Kazue Sohma
    January 1, 1970
    Boys of Alabama was a strange yet interesting read. I loved the way it was written and I felt as through I was right there in Alabama living a small town southern life. The characters seemed like fully visualized people. The first two thirds of the book were truly captivating and I really empathized with what the main character was going through. The last third was part fascinating and part bordering on Christian propaganda (although it might just be the protagonist's dire need to belong in his Boys of Alabama was a strange yet interesting read. I loved the way it was written and I felt as through I was right there in Alabama living a small town southern life. The characters seemed like fully visualized people. The first two thirds of the book were truly captivating and I really empathized with what the main character was going through. The last third was part fascinating and part bordering on Christian propaganda (although it might just be the protagonist's dire need to belong in his new home). While the book was a good read as a whole, the ending left a lot to be desired.ARC provided by Netgalley.
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  • Matt
    January 1, 1970
    I devoured this book in one sitting. I enjoyed that the author sets it in the backdrop of an ultra religious small southern town, in which our protagonist has just moved from Germany...talk about culture shock.I went into it expecting a sweet LGBT coming of age story, but instead the author mixes in lots of supernatural elements. Around the middle of the book it shifts into almost a revenge plot, as we learn that the town’s religious tendencies may be of a more sinister nature.
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  • Liz
    January 1, 1970
    This is a difficult book for me to rate. In a way, it is a really fascinating, intense, well-written book that had me in its grip from the first page. On the other hand, I found it somewhat strange and unsettling with a bit too much stereotyping of the Southern masculine culture. And the ending was a real shock to me. There's a lot here and it's certainly a worthwhile read but be prepared for something a bit different.I won a copy of this book in a Goodreads for this honest review.
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  • Kathy
    January 1, 1970
    An unusual coming-of-age story that was a bit southern gothic and a bit supernatural. Foreboding but still a shocker of an ending. Some of it felt a little too extra southern stereotypical but mostly it was strange enough to set that at bay.
  • Csimplot Simplot
    January 1, 1970
    Excellent book!!!
  • Charlotte
    January 1, 1970
    This book has a lot of things going on in it... but I will say that it kept me coming back. Each time I had to put it down, I was anxious to get back to it. I'm new to Genevieve Hudson so I'm not sure if this book is representative of her work. I would encourage you to read the warnings for this book, there is some really heavy subject matter.The main character in this novel is Max. He has recently moved from Germany and relocated to a small town - Delilah - in Alabama. Immediately, he is immers This book has a lot of things going on in it... but I will say that it kept me coming back. Each time I had to put it down, I was anxious to get back to it. I'm new to Genevieve Hudson so I'm not sure if this book is representative of her work. I would encourage you to read the warnings for this book, there is some really heavy subject matter.The main character in this novel is Max. He has recently moved from Germany and relocated to a small town - Delilah - in Alabama. Immediately, he is immersed in the world of toxic masculinity and organized southern religion. There's one exception to all of that... and it's Pan. Pan is a new-age, "witch" according to the other boys on the football team. As I said, there are a few things going on in this novel, let's being with the main relationship. Max and Pan become friends, probably because Max's german background has led him to be more open-minded than his new friends. Pan dresses however he wants, fishnets, feminine clothing, and he wears makeup. I loved that Max accepted him from the beginning in spite of what the other "jocks" said about him. Their relationship has many ups and downs throughout the story but I loved it. Their interactions seemed very realistic to me: flighty, emotionally motivated, swinging between extremes. What's interesting about Max, in addition to his coming of age, is that he has a special power. Max can bring dead things back to life. It's a strange thing to have an ability like this, and it's never really explained in the novel.    One day he just discovers that if he touches a dead animal or plant it will come back to life. An event in Max's past has left him confused about his ability so he has a strange relationship with it.Another plot point running through the story is the religious community in the south. There is an election going on and "the Judge" is also a revered leader in the religious community. There's a story in the community that he once drank poison and lived through it... so he too has a "magical" quality about him. While Max is struggling to determine where he fits in, he seems to be torn between the world of the Judge and the world of Pan.Ultimately, I feel as though this book is about coming-of-age and learning to be comfortable in your own skin. I didn't have a real clear understanding of why Max had a magical power. I suppose his special abilities enabled him to explore the more ethereal and faith-based beliefs of some of his friends. I feel as though this book would have been just as beautiful without the super-power.Max is a complex character and I grew very fond of him throughout this story. He's an authentic character, struggling to find his way in a world of conflicting messages. His family is very open-minded and forward-thinking, his football friends are focussed on masculinity and bonding, Pan is a free-spirt, and the religious people he meets with have definite beliefs about the "correct" way to live. Max doesn't seem to fit firmly with anyone and often finds himself pulled in multiple directions. I was touched by his emotionality and the weight of his worries.There is no punctuation for the dialogue in this story. Normally, I wouldn't read a book that had no punctuation as I find it really difficult to adjust my thoughts to it. But, as this was a review copy I gave it a go. While I did get used to it, I sometimes had to re-read passages to understand if characters had spoken aloud. The ending is a bit abrupt. I found myself wishing that the story had continued for a few more chapters. There were a lot of plot points that I found weren't resolved enough for me to be completely satisfied. Kudos to the author though, for creating a character that I cared so much about - I really wanted to continue my time with Max.There were a lot of things in this novel that were difficult to read, but I'm not sorry that I read it. This is one of those stories that will stay with me for a very long time.
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  • Roger Hyttinen
    January 1, 1970
    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, st 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!! 
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  • Charlie Smith
    January 1, 1970
    SPOILERS AHEAD --- fair warning.So, conundrum.This was a compellingly readable book. And, until the last thirty pages or so, I was quite in love with it. Part Southern Gothic, part magic realism, part queer-discovery-young love/lust exploration, and part nothing else like it, BOYS OF ALABAMA is an interesting, unique ride of a novel. I was fascinated by its conflating of erotic lust and the lust for power and control, and as main character, Max, a teen with the power to restore life to dead thin SPOILERS AHEAD --- fair warning.So, conundrum.This was a compellingly readable book. And, until the last thirty pages or so, I was quite in love with it. Part Southern Gothic, part magic realism, part queer-discovery-young love/lust exploration, and part nothing else like it, BOYS OF ALABAMA is an interesting, unique ride of a novel. I was fascinated by its conflating of erotic lust and the lust for power and control, and as main character, Max, a teen with the power to restore life to dead things, a power about which only he knows, who's moved to Alabama from Germany, finds his way in a new place, growing into a new body, being a stranger longing to belong in a new culture, the novel is riveting.I was looking forward to how this imaginative and gifted author would reconcile the horrors of the typical Southern bigotries with Max's sexuality and gifts. I began, however, to worry when Max became obsessed with an intensely unpleasant and hateful character, The Judge, a politician who tests the faith and loyalty of followers by feeding them poison --- a clear fraud and hateful, foul villain. Max's desire to please and follow him seemed ungrounded, a plot-device rather than an actual, motivated behavior this character would have pursued.Too (SPOILER) there is a rape, the repercussions of which neither Max nor the author explore; in fact, Max gets more deeply entrenched in the doings of the Judge post-rape which feels both unlikely and unbelievable. I also found an incongruity in what appears to be tacit acceptance of some of the homosexual-behavior early on, and later, the way in which its being seen (while all along its been known) becomes a device to catapult the action to a rushed and vague to the point of near-non-existent ending.I understand the trope of ambiguous endings, the absence or resolution, but those sorts of endings that actually work, that are actually earned and feel "right", are few and far between --- in this case, it feels more like a cop-out, and as if the final sets of circumstances were imagined and written because they are dramatic and powerful --- but they are not grounded, not motivated really, and do nothing but raise questions --- and not the good kind, rather, the "WHAT THE F" kind.I was disappointed in those last pages; they felt like a compromise of this very talented author's gifts and vision. We've invested ourselves in a character whose magic power is a huge part of who he is, a part of the challenge of being himself, and yet, when it comes to the place where he would face the very ESSENCE of his questions about the right/wrong of that power, whether he could/should use it on another human and the repercussions of that --- what would seem to be the CENTRAL QUESTION of the novel, we never get there. Not really.Still, well worth reading and I look forward to more from this author in the future.AND IT'S ENTIRELY POSSIBLE in this time of uncertainty and fearful inability to find grounding in a world gone mad, plagued by a new plague, that the ambiguity and uncertainty this novel's ending left me with was just a step too far for me at the moment. So, give it a read and let decide for yourself.
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  • Mel
    January 1, 1970
    **I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley.**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 muc **I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley.**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.
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  • Starr ❇✌❇
    January 1, 1970
    I received a DRC from Edelweiss TW: animal death (detailed), animal cruelty, homophobia, transphobia, sexual assaultNewly moved from Germany, where his life has crumbled in on itself following grief and trauma, Max finds himself in Alabama feeling strangely taken in. And he'll do anything he can to keep feeling, finally, like he belongs. Even when that means questioning his beliefs, lying, or showing someone else his secret- he can bring things back to life with just a touch.I really don't kn I received a DRC from Edelweiss TW: animal death (detailed), animal cruelty, homophobia, transphobia, sexual assaultNewly moved from Germany, where his life has crumbled in on itself following grief and trauma, Max finds himself in Alabama feeling strangely taken in. And he'll do anything he can to keep feeling, finally, like he belongs. Even when that means questioning his beliefs, lying, or showing someone else his secret- he can bring things back to life with just a touch.I really don't know how I feel about this book! On the one hand, it is beautifully written. The poetic nature, in fact, can be jarring when you look at what it's actually describing. This book is full of hideous things, and they're described as lovingly as rose petals. It's extremely well done.It's also a story of identity and hidden selves, which is strung throughout the story in a beautiful way. This isn't exactly a story about being queer, not as much as you might think, it's a story about knowing who you are and trying to decide how afraid you are of being that person, or letting people know. It's a story about deciding what's important to you, and how much can be bartered away. It's hard to read, because it's so horribly human.The side of this book I have issues with, are in specifics. The over arching book, in tone and in quality, are fantastic, but the characters are unlikeable and the actual story veers between being over the top in a wild way and over the top in a "I can't take this seriously" way. There isn't enough concrete here to rest your head on, and it makes it difficult to really sink your teeth into it. While it's nice when you read something you find yourself needing to linger on sentences of, I found myself lingering too often just to understand precisely what was supposed to be happening. Part of that is narrative style, but a lot of it was just a strangely blocked flow of action.I also found myself unhappy with the way the South is being used as a target. I can't speak from experience because I'm not from the South, and have never actually stepped foot there, but I feel using Alabama as a setting and not simply saying that people from there could find themselves in a backwards mentality, but instead seemingly claiming that the entire place is evangelical and hateful is a huge disservice to the area. It's the broad strokes like these that kept me a bit at arms reach.And, once more on the characters, I just really, really dislikes Pan. I don't like Max either, and I especially don't like him with Pan, but Pan alone is just a really terrible person and I wish that was actually explored. He's got no depth saving him from being simply whiny, pushy, and manipulative, and it bothers me beyond words that there is no mention of any of that.This book ends in a way that made me super uncomfortable, but the same uncomfortable the rest of this book made me. I have no understanding of whether or not that means I liked it or not! It's more an experience than a book, in a truly baffling way! But the writing was very well done either way.
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  • Georgia Fradico Teixeira
    January 1, 1970
    TW: rape, homophobia, manipulation through religion This is not a usual YA. It's much heavier and has a different kind of writing more likely a literary fiction. Okay, let's get into the book.Max is our MC and narrator. He is a sensitive, shy teenage boy from Germany who moves to a small town in Alabama.He is soon captivated by the place and the people. He wants to finally feel like he belongs, fits in. Soon he is taken in by the football team and they're religious and the father of one of them TW: rape, homophobia, manipulation through religion This is not a usual YA. It's much heavier and has a different kind of writing more likely a literary fiction. Okay, let's get into the book.Max is our MC and narrator. He is a sensitive, shy teenage boy from Germany who moves to a small town in Alabama.He is soon captivated by the place and the people. He wants to finally feel like he belongs, fits in. Soon he is taken in by the football team and they're religious and the father of one of them is the "Judge" a politician with very conservative views and a very good speech. But Max has secrets. He has the power to bring dead animals and plants back to life and he meets Pan, who is known as the witch of the city. He is drawn immediately and begins to fall in love. Max´s life is getting more and more complicated as he dives down even deeper in both opposites worlds and the need to hide his powers.Genevieve's writing is absolutely amazing. It makes you feel everything Max does. The love, the despair, the sadness, the realization, the jealousy, the pain. Even Pan doing some shitty things, we can't stop love him, because that's what Max feels. Every time he gets closer to the judge, we are afraid and almost screaming to him walk away. I love books than can do that,I wanted more, of course. I wanted more about Pan and know what happened exactly in the end but that makes the book on our minds and a very good topic to discussions. I hated the rape scene and I preferred that was not included because use rape to move a plot is not good at all and the fact that was a fatphobic and unnecessary comment of one of the characters too. These things kept me from granting the book five stars.So, if you like this style of book, I totally recommend it!
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  • BOOKarina (Karina)
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 -Bookarina
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  • Thomas
    January 1, 1970
    *I received an ARC of this book for a fair and honest review*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 reall *I received an ARC of this book for a fair and honest review*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!
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