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An American Marriage (Oprah’s Book Club)

(10 customer reviews)

$16.95$26.95

by Tayari Jones

Synopsis

NEW YORK TIMES AND WASHINGTON POST NOTABLE BOOK

2018 BEST OF THE YEAR SELECTION OF NPR  * TIME  * BUSTLE  * O, THE OPRAH MAGAZINE  * THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS  * AMAZON.COM

OPRAH’S BOOK CLUB 2018 SELECTION

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.

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About this book

357 Pages
7 - 8 Hours to read
97k Total words

Description

NEW YORK TIMES AND WASHINGTON POST NOTABLE BOOK

2018 BEST OF THE YEAR SELECTION OF NPR  * TIME  * BUSTLE  * O, THE OPRAH MAGAZINE  * THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS  * AMAZON.COM

OPRAH’S BOOK CLUB 2018 SELECTION

LONGLISTED FOR THE 2018 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR FICTION

“A moving portrayal of the effects of a wrongful conviction on a young African-American couple.” —Barack Obama

“Haunting . . . Beautifully written.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Brilliant and heartbreaking . . . Unforgettable.” —USA Today

“A tense and timely love story . . . Packed with brave questions about race and class.” —People

“Compelling.” —The Washington Post

“Epic . . . Transcendent . . . Triumphant.” —Elle

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.


  • Algonquin Books; February 2018
  • ISBN: 9781616207601
  • Title: An American Marriage (Oprah’s Book Club)
  • Author: Tayari Jones
  • Imprint: Algonquin Books
  • Language: English

In The Press

“One of my favorite parts of summer is deciding what to read when things slow down just a bit, whether it’s on a vacation with family or just a quiet afternoon . . . An American Marriage by Tayari Jones is a moving portrayal of the effects of a wrongful conviction on a young African-American couple.” —Barack Obama

“Tayari Jones’s wise and compassionate new novel, An American Marriage . . . is a clear vision of the quiet devastation of a family. It is beautifully written, with many allusions to black music and culture — including the everyday poetry of the African-American community that begs to be heard.”
The New York Times Book Review

“Powerful . . . The story . . . is both sweeping and intimate—at once an unsparing exploration of what it means to be black in America and a remarkably lifelike portrait of a marriage.”
The New Yorker

“Compelling . . . spun with tender patience by Jones, who cradles each of these characters in a story that pulls our sympathies in different directions. She never ignores their flaws, their perfectly human tendency toward self-justification, but she also captures their longing to be kind, to be just, to somehow behave well despite the contradictory desires of the heart.”
—Ron Charles, Washington Post

“Tayari Jones is a bard of the modern South, a writer whose skill at weaving stories is matched only by her compassion for her characters. While An American Marriage confronts thorny issues around race and the criminal justice system it is, at heart, a love story. It’s also a meditation on the creation of art, the meaning of family and the conflict between duty and desire. Jones has crafted a complex, layered story that’s both intimate and broad, a literary page-turner that’s impossible to put down.”
The Los Angeles Times

“This moment, right here in February 2018, feels like exactly the right time for Tayari Jones to be writing — and for us to be reading Tayari Jones. In the years since her debut, she has been getting better, and . . . added heft and substance to the rich and necessary stories she weaves.”
—BuzzFeed

“Brilliant, timely . . . heartbreaking . . . With spare and shimmering prose that can strike with the shock of a shiv, Jones captures the life-altering losses Roy and Celestial endure in this unforgettable American marriage.”
USA Today

“A tense and timely love story. Told in letters and from alternating perspectives, packed with brave questions about race and class, An American Marriage is the perfect book-club book—one the whole group will finish and discuss with conviction.”
People (Book of the Week)

“A stunning polyphonic novel . . . An American Marriage explores the effects of outside forces beyond its characters’ control – racism and mass incarceration – alongside the more personal questions like whether or not to have children, how to interact with in-laws, how to reconcile differences in background and upbringing, and finally, how to negotiate a marriage when love, on its own, is no longer enough.”
Bust

An American Marriage is that rare treasure, a novel that pulls you under like a fever dream, a novel whose pages you start to ration midway through, a novel you miss like a lover the minute you kiss its final page goodbye. An American Marriage is a gripping, masterfully crafted message in a bottle, at once a dispatch from the past and a foreshadowing of the future, bringing exquisite reading pleasure and painful, crucial news.”
San Francisco Chronicle

“A fascinating, beautifully written story about love, the U.S. prison system, and family.”
Houston Chronicle

“Novelist Jones writes brilliantly about expectations and loss and racial injustice, and how love must evolve when our best laid plans go awry.”
—Esquire.com

“Tayari Jones provides an essential contemporary portrait of a marriage in this searing novel. An American Marriage gorgeously evokes the New South as it explores mass incarceration on a personal level.”
Entertainment Weekly

“Jones, who gains in skill with each book, has made Atlanta her fictional turf, and conjuring a skein of complex relationships her trademark. She writes in folksy, assured sentences; the reading is almost effortless . . . An American Marriage swings the reader’s sympathies widely, centrifugally, as if on a merry-go-round. The men are believable. The women are recognizable, familiar as a favorite sweater. The details are pleasurable, down to the Huey Newton chairs on Roy’s parents’ front porch.”
Newsday

“Quietly powerful . . . [Jones’s] writing illuminates the bits and pieces of a marriage: those almost imperceptible moments that make it, break it, and forcefully tear it apart.”
The Atlantic

“Powerful . . . Astonishing . . . Through the accumulation of small details, Jones paints a portrait of a nation still deeply divided along lines of race and class.”
—J. Courtney Sullivan, The Boston Globe

“This beautiful, sad novel is about so many big things — love, friendship, loyalty, betrayal, heartbreak, healing, family, racism, endurance, and transcendence. But all of that is secondary to the story at its core . . . This is a complex novel that goes well beyond the plot elements of infidelity and racism to explore the intricacies of family and romantic relationships in modern America.”
Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“This utterly gripping novel from Tayari Jones explores marriage in an intimate and realistic way, making it an engaging read for both married and single audiences alike. 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.”
Paste Magazine

“Tayari Jones has emerged as one of the most important voices of her generation.”
Essence

“In this unforgettable novel, Tayari Jones tackles hard questions about pride, betrayal, and our capacity to forgive.”
Real Simple

“This is a novel that unabashedly plays with your senses of right and not-quite-right. It also plays with your emotions, if you’ve ever been in love — so have a handful of tissues nearby. An American Marriage could bring you to your knees.”
The Philadelphia Tribune

“Tayari Jones’ An American Marriage is at its beating heart a love triangle between three 30-something black professionals in contemporary Atlanta. Calling it a triangle, however, diminishes its complexity and nuance; this is a book whose characters will whisper in your head long after you’ve put it down.”
The Seattle Times

“This novel is peopled by vividly realized, individual characters and driven by interpersonal drama, but it is also very much about being black in contemporary America. This is, at its heart, a love story, but a love story warped by racial injustice. And, in it, Jones suggests that racial injustice haunts the African-American story. Subtle, well-crafted, and powerful.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Layered like Pearl Cleage’s What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day, this title will appeal to all readers of contemporary fiction.”
Library Journal (starred review)

“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.”
The Rumpus

“The great Tayari Jones published her masterly opus An American Marriage, and it is everything you want to read in a novel right now.”
—TheRoot.com

“Suspenseful and compelling. An American Marriage delivers on all fronts, raising questions both intimate and epic about the intersections of race and class, the burdens and joys of shared history, and what it means to commit to a future together.”
Salon.com

“ Nuanced and evocative . . . An American Marriage is a compelling exploration of the thorny conflicts that drive us apart and bind us, the distorting weight of racism, and how commitment looks across time – and generations.”
BBC.com

” Breathtaking . . . Jones is a master with words and An American Marriage is the wordsmith at the top of her game.”
Bitch Media

” Heart-wrenching . . . An American Marriage poses profound questions about what we owe each other, and what injustices we allow to persist.”
Huffington Post

“One of America’s finest writers, Tayari Jones has offered up another masterpiece with her latest novel, a tremendously powerful story about love, injustice, inequality, and strength. An American Marriage reveals how quickly dreams can be derailed due to systemic malignant forces all around us. It’s a novel of vision and grace, and it will bury itself in your consciousness.”
Nylon.com

“Tayari Jones is a wonderful storyteller. Anyone who has read Jones’s earlier works (Leaving AtlantaThe UntellingSilver Sparrow) is familiar with her strong authorial voice and her careful construction of each sentence, paragraph, and chapter. Her attention to craft is paramount. An American Marriage is an engrossing novel about many things, but at its heart, it’s a love story, a uniquely American love story.”
Ploughshares

“It’s always an event when there’s new writing from Tayari Jones . . . ”
Electric LIterature

“Jones crafts an affecting tale that explores marriage, family, regret, and other feelings made all the more resonant by her well-drawn characters and their intricate conflicts of heart and mind.”
Booklist

“Jones (Silver Sparrow) lays bare the devastating effects of wrongful imprisonment in this piercing tale of an unspooling marriage . . . Masterfully executed . . . Jones uses her love triangle to explore simmering class tensions and reverberating racial injustice in the contemporary South, while also delivering a satisfying romantic drama.”
­–Publishers Weekly

“Tayari Jones displays tremendous writing prowess with An American Marriage, an enchanting novel that succeeds at every level. From the very start, An American Marriage pulls the reader in with gorgeous prose. Even beyond its plot, the story soars. It doesn’t just focus on one instance of a marriage; it explores philosophical and political quandaries, including generational expectations of men and women, the place of marriage in modern society, systemic racism, toxic masculinity, and more. It does so in a gentle, subtle way, avoiding didacticism as it nudges the reader to question their own conventions and ideals. There are rarely novels as timely or fitting as An American Marriage. It brings abstract ideas about race and love down to the material level. The story is gripping, and the characters are unforgettable.”
Foreword Reviews (starred review)

“I love An American Marriage and I’m so excited for this book to be in the world. Tayari’s novel is timely, thoughtful, and beautifully written. Reading it, I found myself angry as hell, laughing out loud, choking up and cheering. A gem of a book.”
—Jacqueline Woodson, author of Another Brooklyn and Brown Girl Dreaming

“Tayari Jones is blessed with vision to see through to the surprising and devastating truths at the heart of ordinary lives, strength to wrest those truths free, and a gift of language to lay it all out, compelling and clear. That has been true from her very first book, but with An American Marriage that vision, that strength, and that truth-telling voice have found a new level of artistry and power.”
Michael Chabon, author of Moonglow

“Tayari Jones is a great storyteller. An American Marriage holds the reader from the first page to last, with her compassionate observation, her clear-eyed insight, and her beautifully written and complex characters. Jones understands love and loss and writes with passion and precision about the forces that move us all from one to another.”
Amy Bloom, author of Lucky Us

An American Marriage asks hard questions about injustice and betrayal and answers them with a heartbreaking and genuinely suspenseful love story in which nobody’s wrong and everybody’s wounded. Tayari Jones has written a complex and important novel about people trapped in a tragic situation, struggling to reconcile their responsibilities and desires.”
Tom Perrotta, author of Mrs. Fletcher

“Tayari Jones’ An American Marriage is a stunning epic love story filled with breathtaking twists and turns while bursting with realized and unrealized dreams. Skillfully crafted and beautifully written, An American Marriage is an exquisite, timely, and powerful novel that feels both urgent and indispensable.”
—Edwidge Danticat, author of Breath, Eyes, Memory

“Tayari Jones weaves a moving love story in her new novel, An American Marriage.”
Southern Living

“[A] very insightful, touching story about contemporary relationships.”
Liberty Hardy, Book Riot

“Tayari Jones…beautifully weaves the repugnant racism of the judicial system into a love story. In writing as lyrical and efficient as prose, Jones presents what happens to two men and a woman when justice is denied.”
Newark Star-Ledger

“Jones’s prose is masterful. An American Marriage is a must-read, not just for fans of narratives about love but for anyone who has known what is to struggle with the choice between pushing forward and letting go.”
Tulsa Book Review

Additional information

FORMAT

Hardcover, Paperback

10 reviews for An American Marriage (Oprah’s Book Club)

  1. Em

    There are no spoilers in this review.This book was seriously so moving. Tayari created real people, people I feel like I know or went to church or school with and it’s always a treat when an author writes a story so complex that you’re not actually sure whose side you’re supposed to be on. I wasn’t going to review this book because I felt like it was going to get so many reviews that mine wouldn’t matter, but I stumbled upon a one-star review for this book and the reviewer simply said “I can’t connect to these characters. It was mostly letters.”I don’t know how many of y’all can relate to a black couple in America ripped apart by a flawed justice system, but I personally got teary eyed by the second letter (the first one written by Roy). I’m only 22. I’ve never been married. I’m not a doll maker. I am NOTHING like these characters. But you know what? I can relate to them. As I read this story, I got incredibly emotional because I thought to myself–this is within the realm of possibility for me in my reality. This could happen to me. That’s why this story was so moving to me.To the reader who inspired me to write this review because they “couldn’t relate” and therefore think that’s a reason to one-star a beautifully written story like this, if I wanted to read books about myself, I’d just read through my old facebook statuses. Not being able to see yourself in the characters doesn’t take away from the moving story being told. Often times publishing companies are wary about releasing books like Ms. Jones’ because of readers like this, but for readers like me, stories like this stay with us for weeks long after we’ve read the last page.I am two months into 2018 and I feel l’m going to have a very hard time finding a book that has affected me as much as this one has. Also, to the person who likened this book to a Tyler Perry show–side eyeing you and how wrong that statement was.

  2. thankfulmj

    My book club read this book. I will say it is well written: however, I am dismayed at how it portrayed ‘an American marriage’. As an African American, I am embarrassed. I don’t understand the high ratings. Marriage is about commitment, trust, love, compromise, growing and building a life together, oneness, and being there for each other when times get hard. All of this was missing from this book. Instead, there was secrets, selfishness, backstabbing, mistrust, lying, deceit, to name a few. If you like this type of thing, you will love this book.I could not relate to any of the main characters. I got so tired of Celestial and Andre, both of them got under my skin. Celestial is shallow, selfish, uncompromising, and she thinks the world revolves around her. I pegged her from the start, I knew she didn’t love Roy. She will fall for any man who gives her special attention, i.e. Roy and her professor. How long will she stay with Andre? Andre pretended to be a “friend” to Roy but secretly wanted his wife. I felt sorry for Roy because of his situation but he should have seen through Celestial & Andre much sooner.I only finished this book because of the book club, it left me with negative feelings wondering if most people live this way. Sad to think.Many in my book club could not complete this book. I won’t recommend this book to anyone because I didn’t care for the subject matter.

  3. Krich

    This book had beautiful writing in it. And that’s all the good I can say about it.Basically, this is a book in which two people who were never well suited find themselves in a situation in which their ill suited relationship becomes (surprise!) more ill suited with time. And you, dear reader, get to sit through every miserable minute of their relationship crumbling to ruins.I should have known better than to read a book about a love triangle. I’ve read enough of them and I know that at least two people in the love triangle are heartless. I hated every single character in this book. They were all awful in their own ways. Roy was a possessive, macho jerk and Celestial seemed cold. Poor, spineless Andre. And the part where Roy comes home never seemed to end. Celestial and him had the same conversation three times. Three. And he asked Andre the same question six separate times and got the same exact answer every time and no resolution was ever reached. Listen, in real life, maybe you talk things out for a while, but I really, really don’t want to read about it in excruciating detail. It’s rare that I get to the end of a book and whisper, “Finally!”

  4. jio

    I read some of the rave reviews for this book and eagerly added it to my library on my Kindle. Finally got a chance to read it and wish I hadn’t wasted my time.First, a compliment. I loved a few of the supporting characters. Big Roy, Davinia and Aunt Sylvia were wonderful to read about. I only wished there was more pages filled with them. They were relatable and well-drawn.While there is some great writing and lines that are really insightful and powerful, the story itself is very bland. Not much goes on and it progresses quite slowly, building to a very weak climax. The book spends quite a bit of time on background of ancillary characters that didn’t add up to much.I did not like any of the main characters at all. As the POV switches between Roy, Celestial and Andre, they all sounded much the same to me. And, they all have traits that aren’t very redeeming. I found myself not caring how the story ends or who “wins” in its closure.Now what is American about this marriage? If lying and cheating (by both spouses) is what the author thinks constitutes a modern marriage in the US, then I guess I get it. But this union does not look like any marriage that I have witnessed in my day. Roy is arrogant and there were seemingly transgressions made by him early in the marriage. Celestial is also egocentric, and though were made to believe she is the epitome of a strong, black woman, I found her to be weak. I could never get a true feel for her as a person, just a caricature of what the reader is to believe she is. None of the character’s motives were ever laid bare. The reader is just told this is what they do.In terms of the basis for the story itself, I found everything about it to be so convoluted. Roy is sent to prison for a rape he didn’t commit. While I understand that, tragically, this does occur, the reader is to assume that they only reason he was convicted was because he’s black. Again, I am aware of racial profiling and that in some parts of the country a black male does have a target on his back. But how is a married, educated, articulate man with no criminal history convicted of a crime without DNA or fingerprints to pin on him? This is never answered. So again, the reader is to assume that it was a he-said/she-said scenario, and his solid alibi and lack of physical evidence doesn’t matter because he is black and in the south. I found this a bit far-fetched.My final critique of this book is this: the author seems to have written this for a very specific reader. There seemed to be the assumption that the reader is black and from the south. If you are neither of these things, there will be some parts that are unidentifiable to you. I love to learn about other cultures and lifestyles through my reading. That is done when the author actually illustrates that through their writing. This book sometimes felt like an inside joke that I couldn’t relate to because it wasn’t explained. The point of publishing a book is to invite readers in to enjoy your story and characters. This is not possible when the author writes hints about the characters traits, identity and the story’s setting that leaves the reader hanging and not understanding.I wanted to like this book, but couldn’t.

  5. Culinary_Cam

    An American Marriage by Tayari Jones was mentioned by several of my friends who are avid readers. So, I picked up a copy before we headed out of town. And, in one afternoon, I lounged in the hammock and read it cover to cover. Actually, I read everything except the epilogue and I was unhappy with where the story had gone.Jake and I went for a hike and we talked about what was frustrating me about the story…and about what makes a marriage. When I returned from the hike, I climbed back in the hammock, read the epilogue, and ended up much more satisfied with the book. Still, I wouldn’t rave about it, but I didn’t hate it either. And it was very well-written.Without revealing too much, this is the story of Celestial and Roy. They are a newly married couple when Roy is sent to prison – to serve a 12 year sentence – for a crime he didn’t actually commit. A few years in, she sends him a Dear John, but doesn’t divorce him, and moves on with someone else.Narration of the chapters alternate between Celestial, Roy, and Andre. The latter being Celestial’s childhood best friend, the best man from their wedding, and the man with whom Celestial begins a romantic relationship while Roy is in prison.So, is a marriage the pledge between two people that happens on a single day? Or is a marriage a daily choice to be with a person? Because that’s the question we have in the story. Celestial and Roy pledged to be together, but then they were separated by circumstance. They are a husband without a wife and a wife without a husband. Is that still a marriage when one of the spouses is completely absent? Marriage requires two people.Celestial and Andre are two people who chose to be together, but were not legally married. So, they are not a husband and a wife, but they are definitely a couple who is committed to being in a partnership.I will add one more thing about this book, which is maybe why so many of my friends have enjoyed it: it’s thought-provoking and might spawn some lively book group discussions.

  6. Rhiannon

    **I received a complimentary copy of this release from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I received no additional compensation**When I received this book in the mail, I looked it over but thought I wouldn’t enjoy it. As a matter of fact, it sat on my shelf for months and I was going to pass over it. I thought I wouldn’t enjoy it since the story is about a Black married couple facing problems due to the husband’s incarceration. I thought “how will I relate to this?” In the spirit of expanding my reading in 2018, I picked it up…and couldn’t put it down. The low, rumbling thunder of the storyline absolutely gripped me. Celestial and Roy have many common marriage challenges (in-laws, discussions about starting a family, their careers) that make their marriage relatable and while Roy’s incarceration the central axis around which the story revolves, this is not a story about prison. It is a story of all the people who are affected by Roy’s incarceration. Tayari Jones captured so many layers of emotion in this book and I have no hesitation stating that it is one of the best novels I’ve ever read regarding humanity, identity, family structures, and marriage. A five star read that I am so so so glad I didn’t pass over!According to the NAACP Criminal Justice Fact Sheet:In 2014, African Americans constituted 2.3 million, or 34%, of the total 6.8 million correctional population.African Americans are incarcerated at more than 5 times the rate of whitesIn 2012 alone, the United States spent nearly $81 billion on corrections.Spending on prisons and jails has increased at triple the rate of spending on Pre-K-12 public education in the last thirty years.I will forever think of An American Marriage when faced with statistics like these or in discussions of white privilege.

  7. Tina TBR Etc.

    This is one of those books that I had to step away from a bit and digest before reviewing. The story is told from three separate POVs: from that of Celestial, the wife, Roy, the husband, and Andre, the childhood friend. You will love them and hate them each at different times. After about a year and a half of marriage, Roy is in the wrong place at the wrong time and gets sent to prison for a crime he did not commit. Celestial knows he didn’t commit this crime because she was with him when the crime took place. But none of this mattered. We get to learn about their relationship largely through their letters to one another. At first, I was thrown off by the lack of dates on the letters, but I came to understand that the lack of dates was probably a choice. We see time as Roy sees time, through the changes in Celestial. It was so interesting to see how much of Roy’s identity was wrapped up in things: his degree, his job, his relationship, his shoes. He scraped and fought so hard for these things, but none of these accomplishments saved him from getting wrongly incarcerated. He does get released after several years, and comes to find out that everything has changed. This is a book about family, obligation, and choices- the choices that we want to make and those that are forced upon us.The writing was incredible. Jones was able to quickly draw me into the relationship and get me to care about and empathize with the characters right from the beginning. There was beautiful description of time and place that was evocative without being distracting. Jones describes racism in American via her characters in a very straightforward way. I can see this book being read 50 years from now as a study to see what life was like in America for people of color in the South in this decade. The fathers in this story were some of my favorite characters- Big Roy and his devotion to his wife and Celestial’s dad refusing to give her a free pass. I know it sounds heavy handed, and it was sad in many places. But it was also a hell of a pleasure to read. Get your hands on this one. It’ll definitely be on my favorite books of the year list.More reviews at tbretc.com

  8. Avid reader

    I’m sort of speechless. This book is what I needed at this exact moment in my life. Beautifully written and inspired. I felt the nuances of life and love and of life in love. It was almost a spiritual experience. It beautifully displayed the frailty of human emotion. Without giving away any spoilers to readers that may be reading this review and are on the fence about picking this novel up, know that you should if you’ve ever contemplated a partnership in love or if you’ve ever questioned longevity in relationships this is a book you should read for perspective, if nothing else than for the sheer drama and suspense until the very last word. Wow! Good writing has the power to really connect with and reinforce character traits and beliefs that you hold close to spirit. This novel did that for me. Simple is often more certain, more deep and thorough than sparks and flames. Read this book people. Wisdom and loads of truths lie within these pages.

  9. William Capodanno

    My oh my, this is an astounding novel. I haven’t been this spell-bound by a novel since Hanya Yanagihara’s “A Little Life” three years ago. “American Marriage” is a searing commentary of being black in America wrapped in a love story. Jones is a wizard with her language, hooking me early on with sentences like “If my childhood were a sandwich, there would be no meat hanging off the bread. We had what we needed and nothing more.”Roy and Celestial are just over a year into their marriage when they journey from Atlanta to visit Roy’s parents in Louisiana. An overnight alone at an inn leads to the arrest, incarceration and wrongful conviction of Roy for a crime he didn’t commit. Just like that, the optimism for a shared life together of a smart, intelligent and ambitious black couple is torn apart. “That’s your fate as a black man. Carried by six or judged by twelve” becomes the harsh reality for Roy as he faces a 12 year sentence. The couple is faced with trying to keep a barely blooming marriage together across state lines and with Roy behind bars. Roy’s time behind prison is captured through letters between the two, frequent communication and visits gradually giving way to infrequent contact frayed by Celestial trying to grow her business and carry on some semblance of normalcy as Roy’s hope for his conviction giving way to desperation and anger.Jones weaves rich tapestry of black family life along with a love story (Roy, Celestial and Andre, Celestial’s childhood friend), while providing such remarkable social commentary such that neither overwhelms the other. They both coexist in perfect unison throughout until the novel reaches its taut emotional conclusion.

  10. Marjorie Cunningham

    Roy and Celestial have been married for about a year and are thinking of finding a bigger house and starting a family. Roy has a good job and Celestial is doing well creating her artistic dolls. Their love for each other is strong. All of that falls to pieces when Roy is convicted of a crime he’s innocent of. Separated by this unjust verdict, Celestial is finding it hard to hold on to a marriage that hadn’t yet had time to “take”. She compares their marriage to a tree that has had a limb of another tree grafted on to it but the graft hasn’t taken yet. In her loneliness, she turns more and more to Andre, her childhood friend. Will this separation between husband and wife completely sever their ties?This is a beautifully written book that not only takes an in depth look at an American marriage that has been dealt a severe blow but also racial injustice. I love how the author switches to using only letters between the characters once Roy is sentenced to prison. It underscores the separation and distance that has been imposed between these two. They’re each fighting their individual battles – Roy with the injustice of what has been done to him and all that he’s lost when he has tried so hard to do everything right and Celestial is dealing with a battle between responsibility and desire.The love story is heart wrenching and the suspense of what will happen is often unbearable. Highly recommended.This book was given to me by the publisher in return for an honest review.

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