Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Review - The American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Publication Date, February 2018

Book Summary

Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, 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.
This stirring love story is a profoundly insightful look into the hearts and minds of three people who are at once bound and separated by forces beyond their control. An American Marriage is a masterpiece of storytelling, an intimate look deep into the souls of people who must reckon with the past while moving forward--with hope and pain--into the future.

My Review -  5 stars

I am glad I went into this story without any knowledge.  A friend tagged me on Oprah's post where she recommended friends to read together.  A day later another friend reaches out and starts a Whatsapp group to discuss the book.  I am in a book club but this was a new way to read a book and it added to the enjoyment of reading The American Marriage.  There are no spoilers.

The story is told in 3 Chapters through the main characters Roy, Celestial and Andre.  How you think about marriage will come into question, make you sit back and say what is right or wrong, traditional or not and if generations look at marriage differently. 

"Sometimes when you like where you end up, you don't care how you got there."  Kindle 11%

We get to see how young marriage unfolds, deciding on becoming parents, in-laws, career building and what no one should have to deal with, being locked up for a crime you didn't commit.  How the incarceration affects all involved is an intense, emotional, love affair you will not forget.

Tarai Jones has wrote a winner, I am positive this book will be in my Top Ten for the year.  The older men in the book are the true MVP's, old school wisdom.  I laughed and cried, the story is very touching.  As a black Bermudian it is hard for me to understand the African American life and Tarai Jones does an amazing job on showing us how unfair life can be for an African American man without the feel of racism being uncomfortable.

"I have one thing to say to you, as a black man:  Roy is a hostage of the state.  He is a victim of America.  The least you could do........  Kindle 40%

I did not enjoy the character of Celestial, I just couldn't relate to her thoughts, her decisions, she wasn't a strong or weak female, spoiled yes, but that is still no excuse, I really am stumped by how much I disliked her in the story.  She has strong opinions on not belonging to anyone, this is a continuous topic.  It came to a point every time we came to her chapters, I had to take a breath to tolerate her.

My favourite characters are the fathers in the story and Roy, a true romantic.  There is so much to love about this incredible story.  We get history and heartbreaking moment to moment.  A huge part of the story are told through letters which gave it a beautiful, genuine feel.  You can also feel the journey of love change over the years.

Is it love or is it convenience? Kindle 69% 

The situation was a lot of things - tragic, absurd, unlikely, and maybe even unethical - but it was not convenient.  Kindle 69%

I also enjoyed how as the reader you are unsure who to root for, how the story will end and who really is the underdog.  I loved the ending but I think it will be different for each reader. 

I am very intrigued by the author now and will read more by her. There is so much to this story, I have had to be as general as possible in order for you to enjoy the story as it unfolds.    I highly recommend.


  1. I love that this book tackles such deep subjects. I've got to get my hands on a copy of it.

  2. I need to read this one. I keep hearing good things. Sounds like a great discussion book.

  3. You already know I loved this book as well. I too found it fascinating how Tayari was able to allow me to understand the constant fear that African Americans experience, how they adapt their behaviors and actions to minimize unwanted attention from white people. Also, I am not Celestial's biggest fan either. She was way too spoiled for my taste. Yes, she was strong and independent and yet she wasn't, was she? I thought the fear she showed at the end was so misplaced and just wrong.

  4. I have seen so many good things about this book. It has me really excited to pick it up and read it for myself! I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed it so much. Great review!

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