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An American Marriage

by Tayari Jones

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,2152393,397 (3.91)222
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.… (more)
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» See also 222 mentions

English (243)  Dutch (1)  All languages (244)
Showing 1-5 of 243 (next | show all)
A haunting, but mesmerizing portrayal of what it means to feel human. ( )
  rosaroxxie | Aug 16, 2022 |
Beautifully written story. Really enjoyed it! Can see why so many recommend it. ( )
  thewestwing | Aug 12, 2022 |
“Love is the enemy of sound judgment, and occasionally this is in service of the good.”
― Tayari Jones, An American Marriage

I adored this with an enthusiasm that surprised me. I really did not know all that much about it going in.
Celestial and Roy are in love and Newlyweds who are beginning their life together.

Due to horrible circumstances, Roy is arrested..and sentenced to a long prison sentence..for a crime he did not commit.

As the years go by, Roy waits to be out thinking of his wife who is his salvation.

In the case of Celestial however, as the years go by ,she discovers she cannot find within herself, the feelings of love she once held dear for her husband.

When Roy is unexpectedly released early, their relationship and their very being will be put to the ultimate test.

This book was so different then I thought it would be, as well as being so magnificently written. It examines the human heart and the feelings and motivations that lie deep inside it. It also takes a long,hard and deep look at Racial relations in Contemporary America. I was pulled in from the start and read it quickly. At the end, all I could think was "wow".

I could very much see this as a film and who knows maybe it will be. I enjoyed everything about An American Marriage and recommend it with as much heart as must have been put into writing it (and that means..with every fiber!). A magnificent read. ( )
  Thebeautifulsea | Aug 6, 2022 |
What a great book. I listened to the audio - with two narrators for the male and female dialogue. And since this book is pretty close to 100% dialogue, the two narrators really enhanced the experience.

This story follows Roy Hamilton. A successful young black man living in Atlanta. Recently married and on a path to greater things. He is accused of a crime he didn't commit and sentenced to 12 years in prison.

The story line follows the utter destruction of Roy's life in general, and in particular the effect on his marriage.

Really up close and personal look at an ugly aspect of American life. ( )
  sriddell | Aug 6, 2022 |
I’m sure somewhere in the bowels of Instagram headquarters, there’s a room where this book is enshrined on a golden altar with fresh flowers and full-time staffers who are solely responsible for printing and displaying all the praise and comments about this book from #Bookstagram.

At best, it’s a testament to the beauty of subjective opinions. At worst, it’s the most over-rated book I’ve ever read. Ever.

By now you must know, the book is about a modern-day love triangle between a husband, wife and her childhood friend. Very real, very ugly circumstances unfairly pry the newly-weds apart at a time when apparently they can’t afford any speed-bumps in their relationship, let alone a wrongful conviction.

From the start, it’s quite clear that Roy and Celestial’s marriage is doomed. Not like in a star-crossed way but in the they-have-nothing-in-common way. As if reading my mind, Roy tut-tuts the naysayers who judge marriages from the outside looking in. He insists, only he and Celestial can ever really know their marriage. But, like, it’s obvious. Roy has a huge problem with monogamy that he writes off as harmless. And, he has some pretty classic male chauvinist views on women. He bristles at Celestial’s success while he’s incarcerated because he thinks she stole his business idea. Which, as a character flaw, is fine and realistic and believable. But, take for instance, this moment when he’s about to sleep with Davina immediately after being released from prison:

“Sometimes the only thing that can cure a man is the inside of a woman, the right woman who does things the right way.”

If you want me to sympathize with Roy, maybe make him less gross? Or, demonstrate he’s emotionally growing and learning in any capacity? But he never does.

His wife, Celestial stews with deep, painful secrets that she can’t bring to share with Roy until its too late (and don’t even get me started on the doll thing – I’m no psychiatrist but maybe creating life-like baby dolls that look like your husband isn’t the best coping mechanism for abortion. Also. WHAT?) Children! They decide, adding children to this recipe will surely lead to happiness. *CUE SUBMARINE DIVE ALARMS*

Enter Andre, a textbook white knight “nice guy” who practically preys on Celestial while Roy is incarcerated. Quite frankly, this book doesn’t even need an Andre when Roy and Celestial’s circumstances provide plenty of fodder for exploration and contemplation. So, his presence feels unnecessary and gratuitously dramatic. But sure, fine, let’s throw in a lawn fight.

This is where I’m at a loss about the book’s overall thesis or theme. There’s not a single redeeming quality or self-realization about any of these characters and therefore, I have zero interest in the outcome of their love lives. They’re selfish and spiteful, even before Roy was wrongfully convicted. So when the two inevitably uncouple my reaction is an eye-rolling NO SHIT. Mercifully, the book reads rather quickly since the first 40ish pages are written in epistolary fashion and the other chapters are short and perfunctory. And, honestly, I’d read Tayari Jones again – she writes well and her characters were believable enough to hate. But, by the end, I was relieved to see these people go on their merry way and I really didn’t give a damn who with or why. To which, I say with all due respect: what.was.the.point.of.this?

“An American Marriage” claims to be an exploration of a ruined life after the machine of a broken criminal justice system indiscriminately and disproportionately preys on young, black men. But, holy shit, that’s not what I read. Instead, it focuses on the all out lawn-fight histrionics of three people who seem to have never been in a shitty relationship before. Somehow, beyond all reason, Roy’s wrongful conviction and subsequent five years in prison plays second fiddle to their drama.

THANKS OBAMA. ( )
  MC_Rolon | Jun 15, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 243 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jones, Tayariprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Crisden, SeanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Davis, EisaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Godwin, SteveDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miceli, JayaDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
What happens to you doesn't belong to you,
only half concerns you. It's not yours. Not yours only.
              --- Claudia Rankine
Dedication
For my mother's sister, Alma Faye,
and for Maxine & Marcia, my own
First words
There are two kinds of people in the world, those who leave home, and those who don't.
Quotations
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.
She pulled away and walked to my bedroom and closed herself in with a little click of the knob. I could have pursued her. A paper clip could best the catch, but when a woman shuts you out, picking the lock won't let you back in.
You don't know what you need until somebody gives it to you exactly the way you need it gave.
It matters that I didn't grow up with my father. It's kind if like having one leg that's a half inch shorter than the other. You can walk, but there will be a dip.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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.

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