By Kelly Kazek with illustrations by Joshua J. Hamilton
Alabama Media Group, 2022
Hardback: $19.99
Genre: Humor
Reviewed by Abby McGinn

Kelly Kazek is an award-winning journalist and humor columnist. She is the author of 19 books, which include picture books, chronicles of motherhood, and tales from her days as a reporter. She is especially known for writing about Southern culture, and her work currently appears on It’s a Southern Thing and her blog, Her numerous accolades include two Alabama Associated Press Sweepstakes Awards for best story of the year. She has also served twice as president of the Alabama Associated Press Media Editors.

As someone who lives near Huntsville, Alabama, Kelly Kazek knows that here in the South, we tend to have a creative – and sometimes confounding – vocabulary. If you are someone who has lived in the South for any length of time, you will enjoy Kazek’s organized roadmap of the Southern vernacular. And if you’re new here, the Southern Thesaurus may keep you from becoming completely bumfuzzled . . . er, confused.

Between each alphabetical entry, Kazek provides amusing and helpful lists containing valuable information, such as ways to soften insults, Southern cuss word alternatives, and ways to discuss the weather (a favorite topic in the South). She also includes passages about “Words That Mean Something Completely Different In the South” and “The Southern Definition of a ‘Mess’” that sound as “crazy as a betsy bug” but will have Southerners nodding their heads in recognition and agreement.

The beauty of Kazek’s writing is that she playfully pokes fun at Southern culture while giving credit to its creativity. Readers recognize themselves within the pages of the Southern Thesaurus and are filled with nostalgia as they read expressions that were uttered by grandparents, aunts and uncles, and family friends. I read some of the entries with my father, and we were both laughing so hard we had tears in our eyes. Furthermore, we gained a new appreciation for the odd expressions that have become part of Southern culture. Kazek encourages readers to laugh and not take themselves too seriously. This book is a light, enjoyable read, and the words and phrases it contains are as familiar and comforting as a glass of iced sweet tea on a day that’s “so hot the hens are laying hard-boiled eggs.”

Abby McGinn studied music and English with a concentration in creative writing at Huntingdon College in Montgomery. She now resides in Prattville and spends her free time writing, frequenting local coffee shops, and introducing her toddler to the joys of the library.