An American Marriage
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. In this deft exploration of love, loyalty, race, justice, and both Black masculinity and Black womanhood in 21st century America, Jones achieves that most-elusive of all literary goals: the Great American Novel. Named an Oprah’s Book Club Selection.

An American Marriage Details

TitleAn American Marriage
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseFeb 6th, 2018
PublisherAlgonquin Books
ISBN-139781616201340
Rating
GenreFiction, Contemporary, Audiobook

An American Marriage Review

  • Emily May
    January 1, 1970
    Much of life is timing and circumstance, I see that now. I know it's still early, but I've got a feeling this is going to be one of my favourite reads of 2018. It is a powerful, subtle, sad tale about the criminal justice system in America, and the personal, long-term consequences of its injustices.There's a lot of discussion, articles and fiction looking at race-based injustice in the prison system of the United States. Most of these focus on racial-profiling of young black men, and how juries Much of life is timing and circumstance, I see that now. I know it's still early, but I've got a feeling this is going to be one of my favourite reads of 2018. It is a powerful, subtle, sad tale about the criminal justice system in America, and the personal, long-term consequences of its injustices.There's a lot of discussion, articles and fiction looking at race-based injustice in the prison system of the United States. Most of these focus on racial-profiling of young black men, and how juries are more likely to convict a black man than a white man when presented with the same evidence. An American Marriage, though, does something a bit different. While race - specifically, being a black American - is one of the major pillars of the novel, it is not so much the focus as the stage on which this tale of love, marriage and loyalty plays out. Instead of looking at the injustice itself, the novel turns to the far-reaching consequences of it - how lives are turned upside down and relationships fall apart as a result. It is driven by complex and fascinating character drama, moving between the perspectives of the entirely non-white cast to create a character portrait that is both broad and deep.Roy is a hard-working, entrepreneurial black man who has clawed his way out of a working-class background, earned a scholarship to college, and married a middle-class artist, Celestial. Next step: starting a family together. Then, during a trip back home to Louisiana, Roy is accused and convicted of a crime he didn't commit.As the first person narrative gives way to an epistolary format during Roy's time in prison, we see how Roy's incarceration drives a wedge between him and Celestial. An American Marriage asks us to consider what it really means to be married, and whether there comes a point when loyalty can no longer be expected. We are ultimately reminded that injustices against innocent black men are injustices against many others - the wives or husbands, the mothers and fathers, and the friends who love them. Jones sheds a haunting light on the all-encompassing nature of racial injustice. It is extremely effective.Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube
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  • Meredith
    January 1, 1970
    I can’t say that I loved An American Marriage. What I can say, is that it made me think deeply about human nature, love, and, of course, marriage. This is a thought-provoking, well-written, depth-filled character study about a marriage on the brink. Celestial and Roy, a young couple from Atlanta, have been married for just over a year when Roy is arrested and sentenced to 12 years in jail. Will their marriage survive their separation or will they be able to withstand Roy’s incarceration? The b I can’t say that I loved An American Marriage. What I can say, is that it made me think deeply about human nature, love, and, of course, marriage. This is a thought-provoking, well-written, depth-filled character study about a marriage on the brink. Celestial and Roy, a young couple from Atlanta, have been married for just over a year when Roy is arrested and sentenced to 12 years in jail. Will their marriage survive their separation or will they be able to withstand Roy’s incarceration? The bulk of the story focuses on a love triangle between Roy, Celestial, and Celestial’s childhood friend, Andre. In addition to romantic love and marriage, themes of motherhood and fatherhood, race, class, and tradition also play prominent roles. Told in alternating point of views, as well as through letters, the devolution of Roy and Celestial’s marriage is revealed through their letters. Some of the events are hard to read, and at times, made me a little uncomfortable. This is not a pretty read, nor is it one that is filled with action. What it does have are three very real, well-drawn out characters who are struggling with both the choices that they have made and not being able to change what they cannot control. I felt their pain, their emotions permeate the pages, and even though I didn’t always agree with them, I understood their choice(s). The ending felt authentic and while some might not like the way how things play out, I was satisfied. This is a credit to Jones who paints an honest picture of the characters and events that occur.
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  • Ashley
    January 1, 1970
    2.5 starsI know this book is getting a lot of buzz and it was Oprah's Book Club pick so I had really high hopes but it didn't really work for me. I started to give it 3 stars but after thinking more on it I just couldn't. For me, a 3-star rating means that overall I enjoyed the book. However, this book just didn't rise to that level. I'll start with what I did like. I liked how the author weaved in the complexities of being a successful black American. Roy was a rising business executive but bec 2.5 starsI know this book is getting a lot of buzz and it was Oprah's Book Club pick so I had really high hopes but it didn't really work for me. I started to give it 3 stars but after thinking more on it I just couldn't. For me, a 3-star rating means that overall I enjoyed the book. However, this book just didn't rise to that level. I'll start with what I did like. I liked how the author weaved in the complexities of being a successful black American. Roy was a rising business executive but because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time and fit a certain description his life/marriage was upended. The first part of the book is in epistolary form where we see the letter exchanges between Celestial and Roy while he was prison. In those letters you can see the slow changes in their relationship as time went on. This is basically the only part of the book where I felt any semblance of a connection to the story. Now for what I didn't like ... the characters. I didn't connect to Roy or Celestial so I didn't feel invested in their story. Also, I understand that life and marriages can be messy and that some decisions we make aren't always cut and dry. But some of the decisions that Celestial and Roy were making were nonsensical to me and not fully explained. Particularly in Celestial's case toward the end of the book. I didn't understand her. Maybe I'm missing something. Overall, I didn't have a strong emotional connection to the story. I'm sure many people will love this book but it wasn't for me.
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  • Chaima ✨ شيماء
    January 1, 1970
    This book stung so hard I almost looked for the cut of it on my skin. It’s the kind of novel that sinks its teeth into you. One that enkindles in you such a brief and yet so excruciating pain. One that is so vivid the first glimpse of reality would shock you, and you would emerge from its thrall dazed, half dreaming, dizzy, and for a moment, aching, blinking, parched, unreal, everything else…fades away. One that changes you, leaves you a little different by the time you are done. But above all, This book stung so hard I almost looked for the cut of it on my skin. It’s the kind of novel that sinks its teeth into you. One that enkindles in you such a brief and yet so excruciating pain. One that is so vivid the first glimpse of reality would shock you, and you would emerge from its thrall dazed, half dreaming, dizzy, and for a moment, aching, blinking, parched, unreal, everything else…fades away. One that changes you, leaves you a little different by the time you are done. But above all, one that reminds you that humans really are so often this way—inexplicable, restless, unyielding, and unfathomable.It’s stories like these that I most relish—the ones that disquiet you and fill your dreams and fit awkwardly at best into your ordered mind. These are the ones that haunt you and become part of your personal canon. These are the ones you won’t forget.In sharp, vivid language that dwells on ugliness and beauty in equal measure, Jones explores, with soul-baring poignancy, the effects of a wrongful conviction on a young African-American couple in a haunting, compelling and deeply humane work of fiction. There are few novels so willing to give up their souls, but Jones’ sincerity sprinkles the text like sequins and her words are the skip of a stone across a lake, forming ripples and ripples of emotion.Being the victim of a wrongful conviction is one of those impossible things that happen in places so impossibly far away from where we are that they might as will not exist. But to Roy and Celestial, it came crashing down, as real as a reflection in the mirror.Roy and Celestial's life stretched out indescribably precious and sweet before them, with the years laid out ahead and the choices still there to be made: him as a rising corporate executive, and her building a portfolio as an artist. But Roy’s wrongful imprisonment was the rupture of the small, brave hope growing inside their marriage.Much of the story is told through the letters Roy and Celestial send each other during his incarceration. We witness as the fine grains of their relationship begin to course between their fingers. We watch as they try to cling on to a kernel of hope. But the years have stretched Celestial thin, leaving her waiting, trapped and trembling on the borders of her own life, and Roy’s life was getting white around the edges and sometimes, it seemed that he had no past, no memories, that he had been, for too long, on this stretch of tenebrous, hissing road. Neither could guess at the shape of an as-yet-uncharted future looming out of the fog. This was loss, of the ugliest stripe, and they saw no end to it, only the far horizon, stretching on and on.When Roy wins his release, it was all he had wanted to hear for five years. But freedom had never tasted so much like ashes. While Roy was despeteraly clinging to the hopeless longing for lost happiness, Celestial has begun forging a new life with her childhood best friend, Andre. Something has been lost in the long gulf of Roy and Celestial’s separation, and they don’t know whether they want it back or not.“An American Marriage” is a viscerally potent exploration of a difficult marriage that has tension and fraction stemming from good people trying their best, growing and changing and learning, and just as often, failing and screwing up or making the wrong choices. Two people, both crumpled and cast-aside, exhausted from their own efforts to become something more than a consequence, and who will always be married where it counted—in the horrors they had shared.Jones lures you into Roy and Celestial’s lives only to do terrible, wonderful things to your head and heart. Reading this book, I was struck sometimes by the senseless idea that everything around me was made of glass. I was afraid to breathe, afraid to move. Dread lanced every moment, and my head was a spinning top of new and uncertain possibilities. I felt my heart limping in my chest as Celestial and Roy walked the floor of their relationship like tightrope performers, placing each foot gingerly in front of the other, testing for weaknesses, waiting for the moment when the whole thing eventually gives way.It would’ve been so easy to call sides—choose a character and place the weight of the blame on their shoulders. But Jones forces the reader to relentlessly ponder what Celestial and Roy really owe each other, as “An American Marriage” corkscrews into a tighter and tighter coil. With every page, we see various elements of the characters’ personalities which hitherto we had only glimpsed, but which had orchestrated and magnified themselves to a startling level of potency. Roy and Celestial—and even Andre—had made so many mistakes that they could not find their way back through their tangle to the first one. Roy had no words in their common language to explain that he is punctured and torn and needed someone to suture him back together, nor did Celestial, who felt herself wither a bit more inside way down deep where the light never reaches, and that might just be the final nail in the coffin they’ve been building between them.I felt torn in some way, grappled with the implications of the decisions the characters made. I wanted to step outside their heads and hope I would see from some new vantage something simple and understandable. But nothing about this story is supposed to be so stark, or so simple.A tight ache closed around my heart for Roy who’s been robbed of something he could never get back. Roy created a door between him and Celestial and he believed he could come back and knock and count on it being opened, and I couldn’t fault him for letting his mind lie to him because his world was more comfortable that way, because it hung together better that way. But I couldn’t fault Celestial for anything either. I couldn’t bring myself to resent the “us” that glimmered between her and Andre. Time is a funny thing—it doesn’t forgive the things that are beyond our control. And life is a river that cannot be called back once it leaves its banks. What had been taken from Celestial could never amount to what had been taken from Roy, but is it selfishness to refuse to wait in an agony of wondering? Or is it selfishness to expect one to wait in the first place?Ultimately, this is what holds steady throughout the novel: Jones gives us a truth that is messy and nuanced, complex, and sometimes contradictory, and yields no easy answers.At its core, “An American Marriage” is a love story, but reading this book, it's hard to escape its condemnation of a deeply flawed system of justice. "What happened to me could happen to anybody," Roy tells Andre who shoots back, "You think I don't know that? I been black all my life." Roy might have survived a mordant injustice, but the shadow fell very dark on him. When justice was eventually served, it was a kind of escape, but it mocked freedom. It was not going to bring back Roy’s lost years. It was not going to change the past. But it will forever define it. Jones tells you that maybe it doesn’t have to define the future too. Roy's present might be overlaid with past sorrow, but he was free, and in the end, in that moment, that place, that perch upon the edge of the world, his view went on forever.I cannot recommend this book highly enough.BLOG | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM | TUMBLR
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  • Elyse Walters
    January 1, 1970
    Update: 2018 National Book Awards: Fiction Another great choice pick this year!!!SMALL UPDATE: I said I would come back and write a more complete review... but a few comments in here have inspired and encouraged me ... to perhaps leave this review alone. So.., I’ll only add a couple of things. Sharing First: it’s funny - what happens to our minds when we move on right away to reading other books after a deep thought- provoking read...It’s like ADDING more children to the family - expanding our h Update: 2018 National Book Awards: Fiction Another great choice pick this year!!!SMALL UPDATE: I said I would come back and write a more complete review... but a few comments in here have inspired and encouraged me ... to perhaps leave this review alone. So.., I’ll only add a couple of things. Sharing First: it’s funny - what happens to our minds when we move on right away to reading other books after a deep thought- provoking read...It’s like ADDING more children to the family - expanding our heart to love and think about each one - differently- but each so special. Recently it’s been like a grand slam rocking hot reading explosion experience.It started with “The Weight of Ink” by Rachel Radish..(which I still think about)...And THIS book...( which I still think about)and now two others: “Fair and Tender Ladies” by Lee Smith and“The Gunners” by Rebecca Kauffman BOTH of these two books I’m currently reading are EACH SOO GOOD - it’s a race to the finish line - as to which I’ll finish first... as I’m now so ‘deeply’ involved- in ecstasy reading both books (Listening to “The Gunners” during the day.. reading “Fair and Tender Ladies at night and middle of the night)My mind is swimming with wonderful feelings and thoughts and experiences of great created characters from our books Little friends in our head.So... there are MANY VARIED REVIEWS on“THE AMERICAN MARRIAGE”....I’m only going to add one more final thought:Opinion really! I honestly believe there is something of great value in this book for: women- men- married or single - black - white - any nationality- all legal adult ages - young 20’s on up. I mentioned in my little review that this book is a great ‘ examination of marriage...I ALSO think it’s a great discussion whether or not to MARRY or NOT in this day and age. There is ‘something’ ( no spoilers) - to pay close attention to at the beginning of this book... BEFORE MARRIAGE...We’ve ALL had those experiences where our gut is warning us — something doesn’t feel right - our souls don’t feel secure & safe—but then as thinking beings— we’ve intellectualized the situation and let it go...only later to kick ourselves for not taking the GUT MESSAGE more serious. There was a ‘red flag’ moment in this story ..that I knew was going to come back to ‘haunt’ ... and it did. My heart ached at that moment.The ending of this book is also powerful - and in my opinion clearly sends a message.Not only had every character been broken— but culture conditions of injustice proved to be devastating too. EVERYONE WAS AFFECTED FROM THE HORRIFIC INJUSTICE...but sadly - facing reality—personal problems didn’t get swept under the rug. Small problems didn’t get replaced with bigger ones. Brene Brown talks about learning to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. “The American Marriage” plays out those type of dialogues of communication. Characters were practicing being comfortable with very uncomfortable communication. Truthful dialogue surfaced through letters. Later, face to face.Original... little review: Phenomenal intimate gut-wrenching storytelling. Every character has been wounded. Their struggles are REAL. Personally I had empathy for everyone— but I can understand if readers favor one character over another. There are complex uncomfortable situations throughout. I could imagine how each person felt from their point of view. I felt those emotions, too.This novel is definitely a ‘discussion’ book...an examination of marriage: what happens when horrific circumstances literally change the direction of life? EVERYONE IS AFFECTED! EVERYONE reacts differently! I’ve much admiration for the wisdom —the depths — of understanding that Jones has for all the many types of relationships we have in our lives. I need to get some sleep ...I’ll continue the rest of this review tomorrow or over the weekend.
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  • Julie
    January 1, 1970
    An American Marriage by Tayari Jones is a 2018 Algonquin Books publication. Well drawn characterizations and a thought provoking and timely topic combines to make a potent blend, which kept me riveted to the pages of this book. Roy had done everything right, is successful, married to a beautiful woman, living the American dream- until he is falsely accused of rape and sent to prison.Celestial finds her comfortable life turned on its axis after Roy is incarcerated. She remains loyal to her husban An American Marriage by Tayari Jones is a 2018 Algonquin Books publication. Well drawn characterizations and a thought provoking and timely topic combines to make a potent blend, which kept me riveted to the pages of this book. Roy had done everything right, is successful, married to a beautiful woman, living the American dream- until he is falsely accused of rape and sent to prison.Celestial finds her comfortable life turned on its axis after Roy is incarcerated. She remains loyal to her husband, but as the years pass, her life continues to move forward, while Roy’s stagnates behind bars, and her feelings for him begin to wane, prompting her to seek comfort from another man.Meanwhile, lawyers are working round the clock to get Roy’s conviction overturned- which miraculously, after serving five years, it is!! But, Roy, soon learns that easing back into his former life and resuming his marriage with Celestial is easier said than done. What stands out for me in this novel, are the little nuances. Roy, who opens the dialogue in the first chapter, drew me in with his honesty, and humor, which was occasionally sheepish and self- deprecating, even though I disapproved of some of his actions. Celestial was, for some reason, a character I found difficult to warm up to at first, but upon reflection, I think her character may have gone through the most productive growth of all. Celestial’s needs and expectations are different from Roy’s ideals, some of which can be attributed to male/female roles and expectations in a marriage, and others to their own individuality. But, throw in a HUGE live altering test of the marriage and it will either strengthen or fall apart. Which way did things go for Roy and Celestial?The other timely topics explored have to do with racism and mass incarceration. Prison life is fraught with danger and loneliness, and of course Roy missed his former life, but it was simple things, things we so easily take for granted that makes the bleakness of his situation come alive. Despite their flaws, and each party has their fair share of them, they were basically ordinary people thrown in an extraordinary circumstance and left to cope with those circumstances as best they could. They were both human, with real needs, desires, hopes, and dreams. Both made excuses, both played the blame game, but both have a bond together they find hard to break free of. The epistolary parts of the novel were well done, which exposes both the closeness and the awkwardness of the marriage, but also the way time robbed them of the growth marriages need to survive. The secondary characters were added depth and conflict and were also very well drawn, and equally affected by the outcome of Roy and Celetial's marriage.While the book is not filled with action or suspense, or even, despite the heaviness of the situation, is it melodramatic, with one exception, that, to be honest, almost had to happen, to break the tension that boiled to the surface. There were a few tense moments that made me pretty uncomfortable, but mostly the author just allowed the characters to flow, to take charge, and dictate the pacing. This approach sounds understated and maybe even underwhelming, but this story was incredibly absorbing, and I have to say the conclusion was surprising- but at the same time- not. Despite some misgivings and mixed emotions about how the characters ended up, overall, I think they may be exactly where they need to be, both as individuals and as a couple. It may be tempting to take sides, but I can’t say I would do better or worse in that same situation, but I did struggle with passing judgments on occasion. Either way, this is a well written examination of relationships and human foibles, and how otherwise normal, well intentioned, good people face adversity and come out on the other end of it changed, for better or worse. 4 stars
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  • Brandice
    January 1, 1970
    Is it possible that in mid-February I’ve already read my favorite book of 2018? An American Marriage was outstanding. Not only did I immediately become hooked and stay invested in the story, the quality of the writing was pure excellence. A newlywed couple, Roy and Celestial, are early on in their marriage when Roy is sentenced to 12 years in jail for a crime he did not commit. This changes the course of their lives and feelings, and the story unfolds from here. Roy’s conviction is overturned 5 Is it possible that in mid-February I’ve already read my favorite book of 2018? An American Marriage was outstanding. Not only did I immediately become hooked and stay invested in the story, the quality of the writing was pure excellence. A newlywed couple, Roy and Celestial, are early on in their marriage when Roy is sentenced to 12 years in jail for a crime he did not commit. This changes the course of their lives and feelings, and the story unfolds from here. Roy’s conviction is overturned 5 years into his sentence too, changing things once again.”But home isn’t where you land; home is where you launch. You can’t pick your home any more than you can choose your family. In poker, you get five cards. Three of them you can swap out, but two are yours to keep: family and native land.”There were different points in the book where I disliked all three of the primary characters, however I was so engrossed I had to keep reading to find out how this story would play out. I feel like there was excess in trying to frame Celestial as an independent woman though - Outside of a professional sense, I didn’t find her to be that independent at all. Her actions, to me, definitely indicated otherwise. I liked that while Roy and Celestial were both adults, their parents still played a central role in the story. I also enjoyed the many authentic Atlanta references throughout the book. ”But how you feel love and how you understand love are two different things. ... Human emotion is beyond comprehension, smooth and uninterrupted, like an orb made of blown glass.”An American Marriage portrays realistic behaviors and actions people experience, themselves and through others, and this is why I enjoyed it so immensely. While I just didn’t want it to end, I really liked the ending.
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  • JanB
    January 1, 1970
    Edited 9/20 to add: My book club discussed this last night and while not everyone loved the book (but no one disliked it), it made for a lively and interesting discussion. I'd highly recommend for book clubs.I’m afraid I’m in the outlier club with this one. What I liked:- The writing is gorgeous. 4-5 stars for the beauty of the prose. Plus the author writes in a way that sounds like the way real people think and talk- The letters Celestial and Roy exchanged- How one unfortunate tragic event, unf Edited 9/20 to add: My book club discussed this last night and while not everyone loved the book (but no one disliked it), it made for a lively and interesting discussion. I'd highly recommend for book clubs.I’m afraid I’m in the outlier club with this one. What I liked:- The writing is gorgeous. 4-5 stars for the beauty of the prose. Plus the author writes in a way that sounds like the way real people think and talk- The letters Celestial and Roy exchanged- How one unfortunate tragic event, unfair as it was, can totally change the trajectory of your life. It gives food for thought.- it was thought-provoking with complex moral themes surrounding loyalty and marriageWhat I didn’t like:- The characters. While I sympathized with their plight I just didn’t like them. Which I can’t explain because I usually like my characters somewhat complicated and flawed. Unlikability is not a deal breaker, but I like what I like and often I can’t even explain why I am so turned off by some characters.- The plot – after the beginning I just stopped caring. It felt like I was reading the script of a cheesy movie. There’s a time and place for cheesy, it just wasn’t what I was expecting when I went into this book.- The epilogue! My eyes may have rolled more than once. I will definitely read anything else the author writes because I found this book so well-written and her style so engaging, but this one just didn't quite work for me. It all boiled down to plot.
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  • Ashley Gallegos
    January 1, 1970
    I cannot, for the life of me, understand why people like this book. If it weren’t for Oprah loving it, I honestly do not think people would buy it. There was no plot and it is the most boring book I’ve ever read. Basically if you read the synopsis, you’ve read all the “exciting” parts and know the entire plot. It’s technically an easy read but boring overall. I powered through to finish it since it has so many positive reviews, with the hopes that it would suddenly turn around or have an amazing I cannot, for the life of me, understand why people like this book. If it weren’t for Oprah loving it, I honestly do not think people would buy it. There was no plot and it is the most boring book I’ve ever read. Basically if you read the synopsis, you’ve read all the “exciting” parts and know the entire plot. It’s technically an easy read but boring overall. I powered through to finish it since it has so many positive reviews, with the hopes that it would suddenly turn around or have an amazing ending that would make it worth reading. Major disappointment.
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  • Diane S ☔
    January 1, 1970
    Roy has done the best he could with the life he was given. Now married to Celestial, a young woman with dreams of her own, are traveling to meet his parents for the first time. The visit will prove less than successful, and a terrible miscarriage of Justice will occur that will detail their young lives and marriage.These are characters to that one wants to root for, wants things to turn out well for them. Of course, life seldom works that way, things change, circumstances beyond ones control int Roy has done the best he could with the life he was given. Now married to Celestial, a young woman with dreams of her own, are traveling to meet his parents for the first time. The visit will prove less than successful, and a terrible miscarriage of Justice will occur that will detail their young lives and marriage.These are characters to that one wants to root for, wants things to turn out well for them. Of course, life seldom works that way, things change, circumstances beyond ones control interfere. A story where events shape a future, where a chance meeting changes a life, where the only bad guy is the Justice system, a system it is almost impossible to defeat. The high cost of incarceration, prisons full of young black men, many times not given a voice, not believed or railroaded by a system who believes the must be guilty. For Roy, his life will never be the same. He must fight to remember who he was, where he was and what he wanted in his life.This author does an amazing job detailing the crisis in a marriage that was interrupted by the system. Her writing is clear, concise, but pointed and sharp. The characters fully developed people with wants and needs of their own. The love of a family, a father who cares for a son that was not always his, and a young woman who must make a decision that will definitely her life going forward. Quite a book, quite a story.ARC from Edelweiss.
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  • Debbie
    January 1, 1970
    One sock officially knocked off!!! (equals 4.5 rounded up up up!)I look a little funny on my pogo stick (yes, this is a pogo stick kind of book) since I have just one sock on, but I have my reasons, really I do. The reason is that there was a slump for me in the middle of the story, so that one sock just held onto my foot like nobody’s business. But it was a short-lived slump, and the beginning and the end of the book are so insanely powerful, the other sock almost flew off my other foot. Since One sock officially knocked off!!! (equals 4.5 rounded up up up!)I look a little funny on my pogo stick (yes, this is a pogo stick kind of book) since I have just one sock on, but I have my reasons, really I do. The reason is that there was a slump for me in the middle of the story, so that one sock just held onto my foot like nobody’s business. But it was a short-lived slump, and the beginning and the end of the book are so insanely powerful, the other sock almost flew off my other foot. Since I can’t ignore the slump—where there was a teensy dash of god and ghosts (my most un-favorite set of “gees”)—I have to bounce around on the pogo stick with just one foot al fresco. Fine by me.Okay, okay, enough about my stupid socks. No need to talk about feet, for god’s sake. The main point is I’m flying high on my pogo stick because this book is amazing! So much depth and emotion! I just finished and I must write this review immediately so I transfer my excitement to the page while it’s rip-roarin’ hot. Here is how I felt: hyper-happy, then a yawn (and the threat of a Complaint Board), then hyper-happy on steroids.Hyper-happy. OMG what a great beginning! My favorite part was a series of intense letters between the married couple, Roy and Celestial. Wow are the letters loaded. There is conflict, misunderstandings, gentle accusations. Each point of view is real and honest and argumentative. This is what I call psychological action. Each of them cornered, they say what they really think. There is blame yet no blame. No sugar coating.What? I want more letters! Where did they go? They left and took the juice with them. Yep, about halfway through, I started to yawn. This was the beginning of the slump that kept my one sock on, tight, and made me consider dragging out the Complaint Board. Why couldn’t the whole book be in letters? Even though I started out by getting attached to the characters, now I started feeling detached. And damn, I skidded on a patch of God, where it appeared in a whole short chapter, plus at the beginning of the next. Other scenes I didn’t like were a funeral and a visit to a graveyard. I know it’s just me, but I usually don’t like ceremonies—in books or in real life (unless something big and surprising happens). The ghost appears at the graveyard scene, where a dead mom gives advice: be a good man, blah blah blah. I thought that it was sort of clichéd. Hyper-happy on steroids! Soon after the offending slump, I grabbed my pogo stick again. I wouldn’t think of pulling out the Complaint Board now. Hot damn! This is what I call high drama, and I loved it. It’s not melodramatic and it’s not over-the-top. It’s an incredibly realistic portrayal of marriage, a marriage that had to sustain a five-year separation. There is so much conflict, so much tension between the couple, I was riveted. This author gets into the heads of Roy and Celestial, and what we get is this tremendously insightful psychological story about the strength of love, guilt, expectations, disconnects. The author does an amazing job in making you empathize with Roy and his situation. He is flawed, however, and you don’t always accept his choices or actions—but you still love him. The dialogue is some of the most realistic I’ve read, and the story is as much about what isn’t uttered as about what is. It’s sharp, edgy, and honest. It has to do with illusions and delusions and hope and loyalty. It raises questions about relationships and morality. We know, for instance, that the reason for the separation, and what happened during that time, is no one’s fault. Feelings develop, feelings change—at least for some. Time changes things whether we like it or not. What is love and can people move on? Should you act on feelings when you know you shouldn’t? Do you stick it out when you really don’t want to? Can hope be powerful enough to get you what you want? It’s so much about the nuances of love and about how being apart can change things majorly. I don’t want to say anything about the plot, even about the big event at the beginning of the book that changes the course of Celestial’s and Roy’s life. I just love going into things cold, so that everything is a surprise. To me, that’s part of the fun of reading. Oh, I will say that I’ve read a few too many thrillers recently, because at the beginning I thought what was going on was sinister. Ha! No! Far from it! The book shows the severe consequences of social injustice (the cast is African-American) but it is in no way a message book.I always love it when a character does something you don’t expect. And that’s what is so cool about this book. When Roy returns after five years, I had absolutely no idea what was going to happen, and I loved every single surprise in behavior. There was this edge, this fear, although I kept telling myself that nothing bad would actually happen. Or would it? I must say I was so attached to both characters by that time. I felt like I knew them really well, yet they kept acting in ways I wasn’t expecting. Much wringing of my hands, but I was rooting for them both, bigtime. The dilemma they faced seemed to have no possible good resolution. My eyes did not leave the pages for hours. The way the book ends is brilliant.I must say, too, that the writing is fantastic. There are little bits of wisdom throughout. Here is a sample of her wonderful words:“She was no bigger than a minute, so I bent my back to sweep her feet up off the porch and she laughed musical like a xylophone.”“Somehow she rearranges the ions in the air and you can’t breathe as well.”“In poker, you get five cards. Three of them you can swap out, but two are yours to keep: family and native land.”“His laughter broke whatever sticky spell bound us to the house, and we were able to leave.”“It’s like the difference between a raw egg and a scrambled egg. It’s the same thing, but it’s not the same at all.”“It’s like eating a butterscotch still sealed in the wrapper.”“Even while she wore his ring, she wasn’t his wife. She was merely a married woman.”“The secrets blocked my throat like a tumor.”I just remembered that long ago I read another novel by Jones, called Silver Sparrow. Ann Patchett recommended it, and since I was enamored with Patchett’s State of Wonder, I jumped to read any book she dangled in front of my face. I remember that I liked Silver Sparrow and was super impressed by the writing, but I couldn’t tell you what it’s about. An American Marriage, on the other hand, will stick with me, I’m sure.I’m still hopping inside, hyper-happy, pretty manic. I was skeptical about reading this book, since it’s an Oprah selection and thus will be a big seller. (Big sellers are often a letdown.) I’m SO glad I didn’t miss this one. The characters are complex, their relationship is messy, and the story is profound. Now let me continue down the road on my pogo stick, the other sock threatening to fly off…
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  • Lindsay - Traveling Sister
    January 1, 1970
    4 stars! This was a beautifully written, thought-provoking, slow burn novel that crept its way into my heart, settling deep within my bones. I will be thinking of these characters long after finishing this book.This story follows Roy and Celestial, a young newlywed couple who have a passionate and impetuous relationship – loving deeply and arguing stubbornly. They are from different “worlds”, but have found an explosive love and connection with one another. Less than two years after getting marr 4 stars! This was a beautifully written, thought-provoking, slow burn novel that crept its way into my heart, settling deep within my bones. I will be thinking of these characters long after finishing this book.This story follows Roy and Celestial, a young newlywed couple who have a passionate and impetuous relationship – loving deeply and arguing stubbornly. They are from different “worlds”, but have found an explosive love and connection with one another. Less than two years after getting married, Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years in prison for a crime Celestial knows he did not commit. The story is narrated by both Roy and Celestial, along with Celestial’s childhood friend Andre. There are several letters included throughout the story between various characters, mainly Roy and Celestial while he is in prison. These letters were a brilliant addition to the story – my connection with the characters grew stronger as each letter was revealed. The author, Tayari Jones, writes with such beauty and clarity. I was fully invested in this emotional and chaotic story, rooting for these characters to overcome their devastating situation. My heart has made a special spot for “Big Roy”, Roy’s father – he was an outstanding and unforgettable character – I simply adored him!I highly recommend this deep and touching book. It took a few chapters to pull me in, so be prepared for a slow burn that will gradually make its way into your soul.
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  • Angela M
    January 1, 1970
    One of the things I liked the most about this novel is that a portion of the book is comprised of letters, mostly between Roy while in prison for a crime he didn’t commit and his wife Celestial. Letter writing seems like it’s from a bygone time and I never feel as if e-mail and certainly not texts adequately reflect the intimate picture of ourselves that a hand written letter does. This is not just about the intimate look at this one relationship, but it’s about their families and their pasts. O One of the things I liked the most about this novel is that a portion of the book is comprised of letters, mostly between Roy while in prison for a crime he didn’t commit and his wife Celestial. Letter writing seems like it’s from a bygone time and I never feel as if e-mail and certainly not texts adequately reflect the intimate picture of ourselves that a hand written letter does. This is not just about the intimate look at this one relationship, but it’s about their families and their pasts. On another level though, it’s a commentary on the judicial system that isn’t always fair and of the racism reflected in the prison system. Through these letters and their alternating narratives as well as Andre, who is Celestial’s life long friend, the complexity of these individuals is depicted. It becomes clear in many ways how their pasts and their family situations shaped them as the adults they are today, but it isn’t clear about what their decisions will be moving forward when it is determined that Roy is innocent and is released from prison after serving five years. I was impressed with how evenly these characters are portrayed. I equally liked and disliked each of them at different times. The two characters that I had no reservations about were Ray’s parents Big Ray and Olive who loved Ray unconditionally. A lot of times like so many other readers I suspect, when we’re in the middle of a book we have an idea, a hope perhaps, of how we want the story to conclude . I wasn’t sure how I wanted this to end and I was surprised, but satisfied when I read the epilogue. Even though Roy and Celestial had been married for just over a year before he is incarcerated, it was sad that the racial injustices of the system, of society overall took from them the next five years of their marriage. A thought provoking and moving story for sure.Thanks to Diane for sending me this book.
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  • Erin
    January 1, 1970
    Winner of the 2019 Women's Prize for Fiction Audiobook performed by Sean Crisden & Eisa Davis 9h I really enjoyed the performance of these narrators as they breathe life into Tayari Jones' story. They definitely kept me riveted to my seat as the triple narrative between Celestial, Roy, and Andre unfolded. Given the title, the central story really is about this couple's marriage-their courtship and all that comes after. It was all the family relationships that convinced me this book was a Winner of the 2019 Women's Prize for Fiction Audiobook performed by Sean Crisden & Eisa Davis 9h I really enjoyed the performance of these narrators as they breathe life into Tayari Jones' story. They definitely kept me riveted to my seat as the triple narrative between Celestial, Roy, and Andre unfolded. Given the title, the central story really is about this couple's marriage-their courtship and all that comes after. It was all the family relationships that convinced me this book was a solid 4 star rating. Oh and how I loved both Big Roy and Mr.Davenport! Their roles proved to be the cogs to keep the main storyline full of momentum as they challenged the three major protagonists over and over again. Since its publication on Feb 6/18 and with Oprah's seal of approval "An American Marriage" is certainly heating up social media. Goodreads has over ten thousand strong reviews and it appears that this book is appealing to a wide range of diverse readers. Not all the reviews are glowing, but I believe that I have enjoyed reading all the various perspectives to the same degree that I have enjoyed reading/listening to this audio version. Thanks to my Goodreads friend, La Tonya for the recommendation.
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  • Barry Pierce
    January 1, 1970
    I decided to pick up An American Marriage because Tayari Jones has a fun instagram. Also in her By The Book in the New York Times she recounts that she once accepted a gig in Dubai just because the flight gave her nineteen uninterrupted hours of reading time. I love that. She seems like such a fun and likeable person. Therefore it really does hurt to write that An American Marriage savagely disappointed me.The novel concerns a married couple, Roy and Celestial, who live a fairly normal life unti I decided to pick up An American Marriage because Tayari Jones has a fun instagram. Also in her By The Book in the New York Times she recounts that she once accepted a gig in Dubai just because the flight gave her nineteen uninterrupted hours of reading time. I love that. She seems like such a fun and likeable person. Therefore it really does hurt to write that An American Marriage savagely disappointed me.The novel concerns a married couple, Roy and Celestial, who live a fairly normal life until Roy is sent to jail for allegedly raping another woman. Whilst in jail, Roy and Celestial try to keep the marriage going as normal but when Celestial experiences surprise success with her doll company everything between our couple begins to buckle and wane. I’ll begin with what I admired about this novel. I adore Jones’ turn of phrase. She has a very biting and almost sarcastic writing style which complements the plot well. Take this little sentence, which I loved, for example: ‘“Who are these men?” the white cop asked me. His accent was thick and gooey, all Marietta, turn left at the Big Chicken.’Isn’t that just wonderful? There’s little lines like that strewn throughout the novel like confetti.The novel is also very well structured. It employs three narrators, each rewarded a perspective, as the plot flows through their voices. Oftentimes I’m quite ‘meh’ about constantly changing perspectives but Jones makes it work flawlessly. She has a real master touch.However, no matter how much I polish it up, there’s no helping the plot of An American Marriage. Oprah recently chose this novel as her book club choice and, no offence to Oprah (I mean, she did get your aunt to read Anna Karenina) but this novel is such an Oprah Book Club pick.This novel reeks of Lifetime Original Movie. There are some moments that are just achingly sentimental whilst Jones often seeps into melodrama. The climax of the novel, a scene which I won’t spoil but tree huggers beware, was meant to be this great symbolic event in which every bottled emotion is finally unleashed. And I found myself… howling. Just howling at the utter ridiculousness of it. Talk about forcing a metaphor. Jeez.Thankfully this novel hasn’t put me off Tayari Jones. I’ve heard wonderful things about all of her other novels and I’m excited to get to them. But as for An American Marriage, I’m glad that Oprah saw something in it that I didn’t. That’s why I’m not Oprah. Even if I do share her devotion to bread.
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  • Emily (Books with Emily Fox)
    January 1, 1970
    (3.5?) This book was heartbreaking but also quite frustrating and exhausting.I'm reading this Contemporary as part of my "Goodreads Reading Challenge" and it's not something I would usually have picked up but I understand why it's so popular. Newlyweds struggle with their lives as Roy is falsy accused of raping a woman. The book deals with love, race, justice (or really injustice) and will leave you devastated.
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  • Linda
    January 1, 1970
    "I feel like I need and need and need and it's wearing a hole in the fabric."Celestial and Roy's marriage is just breaking ground as a young seedling when the earth ravages the soil and the fissures play havoc with such gentle growth. Roy has been accused of a rape that he did not commit. His kindness to a down-and-out woman has spun around on him. No matter how many times that Celestial recants the story that Roy was with her all night, the court hears otherwise. Roy will serve his time....twel "I feel like I need and need and need and it's wearing a hole in the fabric."Celestial and Roy's marriage is just breaking ground as a young seedling when the earth ravages the soil and the fissures play havoc with such gentle growth. Roy has been accused of a rape that he did not commit. His kindness to a down-and-out woman has spun around on him. No matter how many times that Celestial recants the story that Roy was with her all night, the court hears otherwise. Roy will serve his time....twelve years to be exact.Tayari Jones weaves her story through a series of powerful letters written back and forth between the married couple after Roy is incarcerated. You readily feel the depth of the devastation wrought upon these two as evidenced by this jarring correspondence that reveals an ebb and flow of intensifying and waning emotions swept up in this remorseful stew. Jones packs her dialogue with the razor edge of bitter consequences of life that will alter these two individuals forever. "You've got to work with the God you were given."Jones' prose will rest heavily upon you. It is raw, pulls-no-punches, and is, without question, painfully brutal in its telling. She seems to ask us just how much velocity from the violent storms of life can we tolerate before completely shattering? Is it possible to cleave to one another when time and place separate us so radically? At first, Celestial believes that love can change its shape. Roy ponders this exceedingly. And, furthermore, do we both see the same images anymore in the darkness and stillness of night that has visited upon us? Perhaps and perhaps not.You will sit with this one for a while after reading the last page. No cookie-cutter ending here.....just reality served up with plenty of forks in the road. Some expected and some maybe not. Life rumbles in and the aftermath is not always planned beautifully and gracefully in the stars. We just do, folks, under completely different constellations this time. Highly recommend this one.
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  • Kelli
    January 1, 1970
    Nothing is ever over.This was beautiful. This was a slow roil. A story told with realistic dialogue. A story littered with metaphors. A story sprinkled with wisdom.I listened to the audio and it was sublime...so gorgeous were the cadence and rhythm that I was often mesmerized, wrapped up in the story and swept away by what felt like a foreign language and a different culture. Highly recommend. 4.75 stars
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  • Tia
    January 1, 1970
    That ending...Writing- 4 starsCharacters- 3 starsLanguage- 3 starsPlot/Concept- 2 starsUgh! Those people exhaust me. Only the parents and Davina were likable. Can't forget about the Uncle who helped Roy. I didn't like Celestial's mother either.
  • Susanne Strong
    January 1, 1970
    4 Compelling Stars.Marriage, on its own is a complicated venture. Throw in anything else and Kapow! Everyone always says that first year of marriage is the hardest. For Celestial and Roy, nothing will prepare them for what is to come. Madly in love, they think they can conquer the world. Such wishful thinking. After being married for a year, Roy gets arrested for a crime he didn’t commit and is sentenced to twelve years in Prison. Twelve years. What a great start to their marriage. Initially, Ce 4 Compelling Stars.Marriage, on its own is a complicated venture. Throw in anything else and Kapow! Everyone always says that first year of marriage is the hardest. For Celestial and Roy, nothing will prepare them for what is to come. Madly in love, they think they can conquer the world. Such wishful thinking. After being married for a year, Roy gets arrested for a crime he didn’t commit and is sentenced to twelve years in Prison. Twelve years. What a great start to their marriage. Initially, Celestial tries to be the dutiful, supportive loving wife, visiting and writing him, but as the months and years pass, it get harder and harder. Told via letters exchanged between Roy and Celestial, this is a novel through which emotion flows like a river: sometimes, lazy and easy, and sometimes, like the river wild. Have you ever exchanged letters with someone? Real letters? Not just cards or emails? They are more heartfelt, full of either friendship or romance and are a way to stay connected..and that is true here in “An American Marriage.” Roy’s letters to Celestial are real, full of love, feeling and need, changing over time, becoming bitter and angry. Celestial’s are loving, more reserved, more grounded. Always. In my opinion however, neither character is likable, one even less than the other. Though I didn’t love either character, or any of the peripheral characters for the most part, this book resonated with me in a way that most would not. It brings forth feelings of anger, injustice, love and sorrow. It makes your heart hurt.. tears filling your eyes. “An American Marriage” is a novel about racism, love and friendship, the trials and tribulations of marriage and the ramifications of the choices we make and those that are made for you. It is compelling and completely thought-provoking and I highly recommend it.Published on Goodreads, Amazon and Twitter on 5.13.18.
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  • Cheri
    January 1, 1970
    ”When I look into your eyesIt's like watching the night skyOr a beautiful sunriseThere's so much they hold“And just like them old starsI see that you've come so farTo be right where you areHow old is your soul?“I won't give up on usEven if the skies get roughI'm giving you all my loveI'm still looking up” --”I Won’t Give Up,” Jason Mraz, Songwriters: Jason Mraz, Michael NatterRoy is a young man living in Atlanta, born and raised in Eloe, Louisiana, but Atlanta is where he raised himself from b ”When I look into your eyesIt's like watching the night skyOr a beautiful sunriseThere's so much they hold“And just like them old starsI see that you've come so farTo be right where you areHow old is your soul?“I won't give up on usEven if the skies get roughI'm giving you all my loveI'm still looking up” --”I Won’t Give Up,” Jason Mraz, Songwriters: Jason Mraz, Michael NatterRoy is a young man living in Atlanta, born and raised in Eloe, Louisiana, but Atlanta is where he raised himself from boy to man. ”But home isn’t where you land; home is where you launch. You can’t pick your home any more than you can choose your family. In poker, you get five cards. Three of them you can swap out, but two are yours to keep: family and native land.”But, still, home isn’t really Atlanta, home is Celestial, and she is family, as well. Celestial, lovely Celestial who smells of tangerines. His wife. They’ve barely been married a year when they are traveling back to Eloe, to see his parents, and their world falls apart. ”Love makes a place in your life, it makes a place for itself in your bed. Invisibly, it makes a place in your body, rerouting all your blood vessels, throbbing right alongside your heart. When it’s gone, nothing is whole again.” Roy is arrested for a crime he didn’t commit. He’s jailed, convicted and sent to prison.”That’s your fate as a black man. Carried by six or judged by twelve.”Neither of them was ever prepared for a life like this, and slowly they begin to find fault, assign words with a different meaning or intention in the letters they exchange. If the letters have been delayed, what does that mean? What does he / she mean when she / he says this? How can their marriage withstand twelve years of this? Will they survive this? Together?”Love makes a place in your life, it makes a place for itself in your bed. Invisibly, it makes a place in your body, rerouting all your blood vessels, throbbing right alongside your heart. When it’s gone, nothing is whole again.”This was lovely, meditative, and thought provoking. It read as though a book fairy had flown over the author’s shoulder waving her wand and dusting it with little doses of love, tragedy, understanding and even some subtle humour that prevents this from becoming stranded in a darker, heavier territory, or from veering too far into “women’s fiction.” My favourite part of this story: the letters. They filled in holes in the story, said things that they would never say in person, accusations were made, pleas were made, and honest feelings were shared. ”Everything I do is a love letter addressed to you.”Many thanks, once again, to the Public Library system, and the many Librarians that manage, organize and keep it running, for the loan of this book!
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  • Justin
    January 1, 1970
    I had never heard of this book. This kind of thing would never really be on my radar anyway. I don’t read a lot of books about marriage, relationships, love, etc.But, listen, when Oprah tells you to read something, you read it. That’s just how the world works. I remember that fateful day, sitting on my couch, watching The Today Show or something like that. They kept teasing the big reveal of Oprah’s new book club book. Coming up right after the break. Coming up right after this. We will be right I had never heard of this book. This kind of thing would never really be on my radar anyway. I don’t read a lot of books about marriage, relationships, love, etc.But, listen, when Oprah tells you to read something, you read it. That’s just how the world works. I remember that fateful day, sitting on my couch, watching The Today Show or something like that. They kept teasing the big reveal of Oprah’s new book club book. Coming up right after the break. Coming up right after this. We will be right back with the new Oprah thing. Oprah coming up. Stay turned for a book. Books coming right up. Oprah. Book club. Read. Oprah. Stay tuned. Don’t move. Hang in there. Right after this. After these messages. Here we go!Finally, after what felt like hours of weight loss tips, ways to get organized, gardening, Donald Trump, weather, and summer fashion, this book was revealed. I was so disappointed. First of all, I don’t even know why I cared in the first place. When I heard what the book was about I was not enthused and rolled like a sloth off of the couch on to the floor. I just laid there in a daze for a while, and then I found a way to carry on with the rest of my day. Later that week, I walked into the library and there was An American Marriage right there in an American library for an American to read. So I checked it out. And I didn’t read it. Recently, I found the audiobook on my trusty Overdrive app so I downloaded it. This time I actually followed through and listened to it. I listened to the first half in one day, took a break, and listened to the second had today. And, hey, I really enjoyed listening to it. I had honestly forgotten about the plot so as the book jumped around in the early chapters I was legitimately surprised. It took so abrupt turns that kept me engaged, and the conflict between the handful of characters in the story felt real and emotional and raw. Everything kind of slowly builds up and explodes in the end, but I honestly found myself caught up in the story he whole time. Shout out to Oprah for bringing this to my attention.
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  • Karen
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 rounded up for this novel, an Oprah book selection! Oprah has never let me down with her book choices!A terrible racial injustice has occurred that rips apart the marriage of a black couple, Roy and Celestial after only a year of marriage. The storytelling is stellar and the characters are just so real. Very moving! Recommended!
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  • Liz
    January 1, 1970
    Celestial and Roy have only been married a bit over a year when he’s found guilty of a crime. Roy isn’t a saint. Celestial discovers he’s already cheated on her on their first anniversary. But he is innocent of the crime. In the blink of an eye, they go from living “that Huxtable life” to Roy being in prison. The author gets certain things exactly right, like being caught between a parent and a spouse. And how little we really know about our spouse when we go into marriage. Prison forces Celesti Celestial and Roy have only been married a bit over a year when he’s found guilty of a crime. Roy isn’t a saint. Celestial discovers he’s already cheated on her on their first anniversary. But he is innocent of the crime. In the blink of an eye, they go from living “that Huxtable life” to Roy being in prison. The author gets certain things exactly right, like being caught between a parent and a spouse. And how little we really know about our spouse when we go into marriage. Prison forces Celestial and Roy to write each other and in writing, they initially give up their secrets. They’re forced to communicate. But then they don’t. Or rather, they don’t understand where the other is coming from. These two have problems with a capital P. The meat of the story really rings true. We can’t predict how things will turn out for us. Bad things happen and we are forced to deal with them, deserved or not. Jones has a definite voice. I can’t say for sure whether the way the main characters speak is realistic, but it sure seems that way to me. And her writing was amazing. “She let her fingers roam around my body, as dainty as a firefly but with healing in her hands like a storefront preacher.” This is a hard story. Another reviewer described this as raw and that’s a very apt description. I felt all sorts of emotions for both Roy and Celestial. I loved what this book had to say about marriage. I had no idea how this would end but I was very pleased at the ending.
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  • Richard
    January 1, 1970
    An American Marriage by Tayari Jones is a book about love, loyalty and doing the right thing ......... or trying to figure out what ‘the right thing’ actually is.This perceptive drama is set in Atlanta, the story being told in the first person by its three main characters. Roy is a smart, upwardly mobile career man. Celestial is an up and coming artist. Newly married and optimistic, their future is bright. Andre is Celestial’s closest friend.When a catastrophic incident occurs a little way into An American Marriage by Tayari Jones is a book about love, loyalty and doing the right thing ......... or trying to figure out what ‘the right thing’ actually is.This perceptive drama is set in Atlanta, the story being told in the first person by its three main characters. Roy is a smart, upwardly mobile career man. Celestial is an up and coming artist. Newly married and optimistic, their future is bright. Andre is Celestial’s closest friend.When a catastrophic incident occurs a little way into the book, Roy and Celestial’s new life together receives the ultimate test and is pushed to breaking point.The fact that the main players are black is intrinsic to the story.This tale of complicated relationships, although universal, is seen through the prism of race. There’s a seam that runs through the book, a world weary acceptance that racism still taints much of society. Not always clearly visible but always present. Race was certainly the defining factor in the dramatic incident on which the novel turns.The story has the propulsion and urgency of a thriller and yet .......... the constant flashbacks and inner monologues of the principle characters, cause the narrative to stall. It’s fair enough that the author didn’t want to tell the tale in a strictly chronological or linear way, but I found myself getting a little impatient at times. A five star read down to a four.That being said, An America Marriage is a well written, character driven novel - thoughtful, humane and believable. A superior piece of fiction.
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  • PorshaJo
    January 1, 1970
    Rating 4.5At the heart of this one is the story of Celestial and Roy. They are a young married couple with so much ahead of them. I would not say they had the perfect marriage or knew what marriage is really about in the beginning. They had money, good jobs, a promising life together, and then it was all shattered.This is a in-depth story told from the point of view of both Celestrial and Roy and their friend, Andre. It also includes letters between them interweaving them into the story. Celestr Rating 4.5At the heart of this one is the story of Celestial and Roy. They are a young married couple with so much ahead of them. I would not say they had the perfect marriage or knew what marriage is really about in the beginning. They had money, good jobs, a promising life together, and then it was all shattered.This is a in-depth story told from the point of view of both Celestrial and Roy and their friend, Andre. It also includes letters between them interweaving them into the story. Celestrial comes from money, her parents have money. Roy does not come from money, his parents seem to struggle. But Roy pushes himself in college and finally has a good high paying job. On a trip to see Roy's family, Celestrial and Roy decide to stay at hotel overnight. During this time, Roy is accused of rape - no spoiler here. He didn't do it, but is sent to prison for 12 years. His crime itself is not central in the story. It's never discussed other than he is sent to prison. And here you see how this impacts the marriage of Celestrial and Roy. It is such a wonderful, character driven novel. You see the struggles they face while Roy is incarcerated. You see from both points of view. You get the back story of their lives and how they met. Then, after years of his lawyer fighting his case, the lawyer being paid for by Celestrial's parents, he is freed. After 5 years away, he's ready to return home, to his wife, to his previous life. But that's just it...it WAS his *previous* life. Everything is different now. Celestrial has found comfort in the arms of their friend Andre. And after all this time, no one is the same person.I really enjoyed this one. I listened to the audio version and the narrators did a wonderful job. I felt that Roy and Celestrial were telling me their story. I was so immersed into this one and kept listening to more and more cause I had to hear how it would end, but I didn't want it to end. I was initially drawn by cover love, then I was sucked into by the wonderful story. I did not know who this author was but you can bet I'll be reading more by her. Why not a 5...well, I'm stingy. But the very end, the epilogue just went off the rails a bit for me. And one other item kinda threw me off. Finally, I would not read this one again. Don't get me wrong, I really liked it and would suggest to anyone to read. It's just, I know what happens. I'm so glad I read this and I'm sure I will be thinking of it for some time.
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  • karen
    January 1, 1970
    just a reminder that this list exists. i haven't updated it for 2019 because i have become overwhelmed by life's challenges, but perhaps it can be of use until i am better equipped to handle my shizz.**************************************it's probably far too late in the month to be of use to anyone making black history month displays, but i made this list over on riffle if anyone's interested, because even if you're not entrusted with display-making, it's a handy list of books for reading any m just a reminder that this list exists. i haven't updated it for 2019 because i have become overwhelmed by life's challenges, but perhaps it can be of use until i am better equipped to handle my shizz.**************************************it's probably far too late in the month to be of use to anyone making black history month displays, but i made this list over on riffle if anyone's interested, because even if you're not entrusted with display-making, it's a handy list of books for reading any month of the year:http://www.rifflebooks.com/list/25387...
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  • Dem
    January 1, 1970
    Ingeniously constructed and extremely well written, a novel that held my attention from the very first page and the audible version was exquisiteNewlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embarking on life as a married couple when their world is ripped apart by the arrest of Roy for a crime they know he didn't commit. A story partly told through a series of letters really bring a freshness to this novel. The writing is vivid and beautiful and I wanted to stop the audio so many times just to recapture s Ingeniously constructed and extremely well written, a novel that held my attention from the very first page and the audible version was exquisiteNewlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embarking on life as a married couple when their world is ripped apart by the arrest of Roy for a crime they know he didn't commit. A story partly told through a series of letters really bring a freshness to this novel. The writing is vivid and beautiful and I wanted to stop the audio so many times just to recapture some of the wonderful phrases and statements written so eloquently in this novel. I was so lucky to have a hard copy of this book as well but as it was on loan to me I just couldn’t highlight or mark up the pages. I am not a fan of Oprah’s choices but this one really worked for me as the characters and their actions felt very true to life and I could visualize the people and places so clear in my mind. I loved the ending and for me it worked so well. When I was mad, I didn't raise my voice. Instead, I lowered it to a register that you heard with your bones not your ears Gloria once told me your best quality is also your worst
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  • Justin Tate
    January 1, 1970
    The strongest writing I've read in a while. Witty in all the right places. Rich characters. The plot isn't ultra-memorable but I have the feeling it's going to haunt me the more I think about it. There's a lot of overt conflict, internal and external, but the ever-present social subtext is what makes it art. Glad I didn't miss it!
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  • Kelly (and the Book Boar)
    January 1, 1970
    Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/ Let’s get real. That’s the reason everyone and their damn dog read this thing. Now that I’ve read it, I’m fairly certain that’s why many users rated it so high as well. I actively avoided it for months because I wasn’t quite sure if I was still a drinker of the Oprah Kool-Aid and wanted to maintain my fond memories of a bygone era. But then a co-worker told me about a podcast she listened to where Tayari Jones was interviewed and conv Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/ Let’s get real. That’s the reason everyone and their damn dog read this thing. Now that I’ve read it, I’m fairly certain that’s why many users rated it so high as well. I actively avoided it for months because I wasn’t quite sure if I was still a drinker of the Oprah Kool-Aid and wanted to maintain my fond memories of a bygone era. But then a co-worker told me about a podcast she listened to where Tayari Jones was interviewed and convinced me to add my name to the waiting list because she sounded so nice. There’s a good chance that she’s the nicest person in the universe . . . . but the characters she wrote about sure weren’t.For me, it all boils down to . . . . “Young people don’t respect the institution.” While I don’t believe that is the case, the message that THESE YOUNG PEOPLE in particular didn’t respect the institution of marriage was broadcast loud and clear throughout the duration of this novel. As a woman who has been married for 22 years, let me tell you this story pissed me plum the fuck off. These people weren’t in an “American Marriage” – or if they were I’m declaring I want different categories because they didn’t even LIKE each other FFS. He was an overgrown manchild who screwed women on the side while vilifying his “little missus” for not being interested in getting knocked up on their honeymoon. She was so worried about losing herself to a man that she wouldn’t give ANY part of herself for the greater good of their union. Their “marriage” of a year and a half was full of lies and omissions and both of them sickened me. I’m a person who LOVES reading about the underdog or the “bad” guy. I don’t shy away from vile characters – often times I even find myself cheering for them. But these people? Ugh. If this is what “real” people are like then let me stay in my bubble because I could just vomit. From giving up on her supposedly innocent husband nearly instantaneously (don’t argue semantics – just because she pretended to stay with him for two years doesn’t mean she didn’t move on with her life/career immediately), to falling into bed with her childhood friend (and again, this relationship had zero actual love that translated to the page – only convenience and a copout) to him having a one-night-stand with a woman the day he’s out of prison and then informing his wife that he could rape her if he wanted to when she dares to tell him he needs to use protection if they are going to have sex (while she’s supposedly engaged to her (and his – can’t forget they were college buddies) best pal). Again - vomit. I don’t know this reviewer, but the first few lines of THIS REVIEW asks the questions I kept asking myself. The answer for me? My rating comes from how much I enjoyed a book – not for its literary merit. I LOATHED this book, its characters, the glossing over the trial/incarceration/appeal/etc., its jumping of the shark that somehow a man whose father ran out on his mother when he was but a baby somehow MAGICALLY ends up in not only the same penal institution (and don’t forget there’s roughly 2.3 MILLION PEOPLE currently incarcerated in the United States), but also winds up his cellie in some attempt at tragi-porn that never delivers ANNNNNNND the beyond the grave letter from his dearly departed mama. GTFOOH. It doesn’t matter that the writing was clearly good, the snippets of imprisonment left me wanting more of that story, the final showdown in the front yard FINALLY offered me something to believe in or Big Roy . . . . . “When I look at Mr. Roy out there, at his wife’s grave, I feel like I’ve been playing at marriage. That I don’t know what it is to be committed.” Oh Big Roy. You were nearly enough to make me change my mind, but I’m sticking to my guns and this solo star.Nearly ALL of my friends loved this novel thoroughly. There’s a good chance you will too. After all, the power of Oprah compels you. And if you think I’m kidding about that, here’s a pic I took last night when my kid challenged me to a “minute to win it” type of event where I pulled all the Oprah books I could off the shelves while he timed me . . . . .
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