Books Reviews

Book Review: An American Marriage By Tayari Jones

“Marriage is between two people. There is no studio audience.”

What’s The Book About?

Newlyweds, Celestial and Roy, are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive and she is artist on the brink of an exciting career. They are settling into the routine of their life together, when they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together.

The Review

I enjoyed reading this book! The first third is probably my favourite and I thought the writing was excellent. I even shed tears at some point. Tayari Jones’ writing is very reminiscent of Toni Morrison’s when I read ‘God Help The Child’. This is a book about complicated characters put in impossible situations yet it’s written in a way that is non-judgmental without impositions of morality from the writer.

What did I love? 

I loved that the story was told in part through letters. Those were my favourite sections in book! I just thought it was genius. This is a heartbreaking read that gives an insight into incarceration and injustice in the American legal system. Far too often, black men and black women have lost their lives through encounters with enforcement officers. The beginning of this book does a great job of tapping into the anxiety and impending doom that a lot of black people are accustomed to as we move in the world.

The three person perspective/ narrative was necessary for this book! Strangely enough, I didn’t care very much about two of the major characters. Andre felt like a convenient thorn in the side. I thought Celestial was interesting at the beginning (especially because of a tense scene with Roy’s mother in the early chapters) but as the story unfolded, her character felt flat for me. Roy wasn’t a hugely likeable character either, some of his decisions were beyond baffling, but his narrative was hooked my attention in so far as the seeing the psychological impact of incarceration on a man who was living the American Dream.

Other thoughts?

I didn’t actually think about this until I read some reviews on goodreads, but I agree with the criticism that this book doesn’t really have a plot. It’s still a great read though!

Top Three Quotes

“He didn’t do anything but be a black man in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

“But more women should be selfish,” she said. “Or else the world will trample you.”

Rating

✯✯✯✯- Hooked

Guide to Book Review Rating
✯ – Meh
✯✯ – Read at your own risk
✯✯✯ – Hit and Miss
✯✯✯✯- Hooked
✯✯✯✯✯- Life Companion. Thank me later!

I pray that you benefited from this post and I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section. Subscribe via email for exclusive content and new post notifications. Listen to my podcast Bookversations here.

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