Review: An American Marriage, by Tayari Jones

an american marriage tayari jones

Rating: ★★★★☆

Genres: Contemporary Fiction

Goodreads / Amazon

An American Marriage was the fourth book I read from the Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist for 2019, and my curiosity was even bigger for this one because this book was also picked for Oprah’s Book Club and I’ve been seeing several positive reviews from people I know.

Celestial and Roy have been married for a bit more than a year. She’s an artist and he’s a young executive. One night, during one of their worst fights, he walks out of the hotel room and helps an older woman – who then just hours later will accuse him of raping her. Incarcerated although he is innocent, Roy watches the life he knew shatter. The both of them must find out hard lessons on loyalty, justice, race, Black womanhood and Black manhood.

This book is separated into three main parts, which I won’t go into too much detail not to give any spoilers away, and my favorite was the first one, as Roy and Celestial exchange letters, each one a punch to the gut. The pain in the words they exchange is so raw, like an exposed wound, that my heart hurt reading. It was so beautiful.

I think the greatest thing this novel did is that I loved and hated each one of the characters in turns. I disagreed with so many of their actions, while at the same time understanding very well why they did what they did. Gosh, a lot of it was painful to read. I think this would be a 5-star read if it has been in the format of the letters. Changing to first person narrated definitely changed the pacing of the novel and gave insights to the thoughts and experiences of the characters that the letters had left us to only guess. It’s still a brilliant read, with unique voices and an emotional rollercoaster. I was left destroyed from this novel. It’s great!

3 thoughts on “Review: An American Marriage, by Tayari Jones

  1. Great review! I’m with you on loving and hating the characters at the same time. I thought that was a clever way to make us consider the extent of our sympathy, and if we’re willing to overlook that someone isn’t a very good person if they’ve been a victim of the justice system.


  2. Excellent review!! I couldn’t agree more about the characters – I was infuriated by them, but intrigued by how Jones was more interested in contextualizing than excusing their actions.


  3. Pingback: Reaction to 2019 Women’s Prize for Fiction Winner & Thoughts on the Longlist | Naty's Bookshelf

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