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An American Marriage

An American Marriage - Tayari Jones

Author:  Tayari Jones

Rating:  4 stars


This is a complicated book.


I mean that as a compliment.


Let me start with the book blurb. In short, it says it's about an innocent man who is incarcerated and what it does to his marriage. The blurb out there makes no mention of the fact he is African American.  I struggled with this because the fact that he is changes the story. It does. And paints it in a shade that made me want to read it. Was it done to appeal to a broader audience? Was it because the problems at their heart are universal if someone is falsely accused? To the last question, the book does not read that way. Such as when the wife, who is named Celestial (yes, seriously) expresses how she feared that the justice system would rob her of the men in her life, whether they were guilty or not simply because they were black. There were such moments like that, bringing this book to life and telling you  what it is like to walk in my shoes as an African American woman with two brothers who yes,  have gotten pulled over for DWB and a father who taught them to memorize their license numbers and their social security numbers and to keep. their. hands. in. sight. at all times. 


Then after finishing this book, my feelings got even more tangled. Yes, this book is about how Roy and Celestial's marriage take a hit from him being wrongfully imprisoned. But it pulls no punches, we get a picture of these two before he is arrested. Roy is misogynistic and plays fast and loose with the idea of commitment in his marriage. Celestial comes off as self-absorbed - just gonna be straight here, I didn't care for her -  and is uncomfortably close to a male childhood friend. You see trouble on the horizon from the word GO. There is an argument to be made that the strains on their marriage would have happened without his incarceration and that their separation only amplified their problems. You could say that. But he was falsely accused, wrongly imprisoned and they were robbed of the time and space to figure it all out. What ifs. If onlys. 


This book is about how such a situation has a devastating effect on not just the person but their loved ones, there is irreparable harm done. A timeline that is altered and irretrievably lost. I appreciated a quote that is used in the book to the effect of 'Nothing happens only to you, not just to you.'


I don't even know if this is a real review. It's more of a collection of my rambling thoughts on the book. To sum up I will say this  -  a book that makes you walk in the shoes of others albeit fictional, and makes you think about what's going on around you can't be a bad read. Job well done. 


Yeah, I recommend it.