An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Updated: Apr 25, 2019

Image from Newsday (Online publication)

Beyond it being a 2018 Oprah Book Club selection, this book for me, got straight to the point, just how I like it!  I enjoyed reading this book and instantly connected with the main characters Celestial, Roy and Andre.  I appreciate books with a few characters in it because it’s keeps me focused on the storyline.  Once you go past five characters in a book, you’ve lost me I’m sure.

In this book, An American Marriage, great title by the way, it immediately gave you the plot and continued to pull you more and more with each chapter from the thoughts of each main character.  I was expecting a typical marriage story about two people living the American dream: two kids, a dog, white picket-fenced house, etc.  But not in this story.  Each main character was influenced either in a negative or positive way by the upbringing of their parents or the absence of them.  Like most of our parents who endured hardships before we were born, try as they may to keep us from creating our own hardships in life, sometimes, our criminal justice system destroys everything we’ve ever been taught.  Roy unfortunately, was raised right by his parents but the state of Louisiana, failed him.

Celestial and Roy are a replica of a modern day African-American couple trying to live their best lives in Atlanta until the state of Louisiana and it’s known prejudices within our judicial system, changed their lives, forever.  Without being a spoiler, which is not an easy task to complete while doing book reviews, this book speaks volumes on more than just the institution of marriage, it also speaks of the institution of incarcerating more black men in our society (especially in the southern states such as Louisiana), healing and finding peace after the storms of life hit you.

I am always a fan of writers who pile so much wisdom in their books and have me purchasing 2-3 highlighters at a time.  This book, dropped a few nuggets of wisdom here and there but the story was just so captivating that the novel itself, challenged you to “stay woke.”  I kept asking myself, “What would I do in this situation?”  What situation you ask?  Imagine your spouse abruptly being taking away from you and locked up for twelve years for a crime he/she didn’t commit?  Through that time apart, you fall in love with your best friend (or the love had been there unbeknownst to you) and boom your spouse is released from prison….EARLY?????

I’m still unsure of what exactly I would do if I ever was in that situation.  Again, I’m NOT a book spoiler so you must read the book to find out more about the fate of this couple.  I would love to read your comments on what you do if you were in this situation?  Love runs deep and this couple definitely have An American Marriage.