Book Review: “An American Marriage” by Tayari Jones

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. They are settling into the routine of their life together, when they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to 12 years in a Louisiana prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend and best man at her wedding. As Roy’s time in prison passes, Celestial 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 deeply 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 into the souls of people who must reckon with the past while moving forward- with hope and pain- into the future. In addition to romantic love and marriage, themes of motherhood and fatherhood, race, class, and tradition also play prominent roles.

This is a thought-provoking, well-written, character study about a marriage on the brink. It made me think deeply about human nature, love, America’s criminal justice system, and, of course, marriage. Tayari Jones creates three very real, well-drawn out characters who are struggling with both the choices they have made, and not being able to change what they cannot control. I felt their pain; their emotions permeate the pages. The ending felt authentic, and while some might not like the way things played out, I was satisfied. This is a credit to Jones, who paints an honest picture of the characters and events that take place. 

Review by Leslie Mortimer, Adult Services Manager

This book is available through the Cloud Library. For more information on the Cloud Library and other digital content, click here.

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