An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
This was one of my most anticipated releases of 2018 AND my February Book of the Month pick, so all around I was really excited for this book! As you can see from my star rating, I LOVED this book!! This was a book that I kind of had to sit on my rating and thoughts before I made a final decision and I’m happy to say that I genuinely believe that this is a five-star read.
This book was beautifully written, captivating and heartbreaking all at the same time. We follow Celestial and Roy, a pair of happy newlyweds. Roy is a young executive and Celestial is an artist, both up and coming and at the start of their exciting careers. As happy as their lives are unfolding, it all comes tumbling as Roy is wrongfully accused of a crime and then sentenced to 12 years. Throughout the novel, we follow their individual journeys and the impact of this event on them and their marriage. This is such an important read exploring the injustice of our justice system, particularly towards Black men, but from a different lens. To me, this is equally a socially just focused book but also a tragically beautiful love story.
The thing about this book that I loved the most was the deep exploration of our characters. We take a pretty deep dive into both Celestial and Roy, but also Andre who is Celestial’s childhood friend that she takes comfort in while Roy is incarcerated. Not only do we have strong character profiles of our protagonists, but we also examine the lives of those around them which builds for a richer story. In the exploration of our characters, we find incredibly flawed, relatable and real characters. You can’t really find fault in anyone’s actions, as I would ask “what would you do” if you were to find yourself in any kind of situation like this.
I loved the different formats and switching of POV’s throughout the book. I found this to have a powerful impact on the book, as we could actually see the direct impacts on each of the characters and just helps you to understand where everyone is coming from. There is a short exchange of the story that is told in letters sent back and forth between Celestial and Roy while Roy is in jail, and this was the most heartbreaking part of the story as you really start to see the changes in their marriage just from the letters.
All in all, this was an important read and it was a heartbreaking love story. This was complex and raw, and I believe everyone needs to read this book. I am so happy to have read this and am so grateful that this got to be my Book of the Month pick! 😀