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An American Marriage: A Novel (Oprah's Book Club 2018 Selection) Hardcover – February 6, 2018
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—Ron Charles, Washington Post
"Novelist Jones writes brilliantly about expectations and loss and racial injustice, and how love must evolve when our best laid plans go awry."
"Tayari Jones provides an essential contemporary portrait of a marriage in this searing novel. An American Marriage gorgeously evokes the New South as it explores mass incarceration on a personal level."
“I love An American Marriage and I’m so excited for this book to be in the world. Tayari’s novel is timely, thoughtful, and beautifully written. Reading it, I found myself angry as hell, laughing out loud, choking up and cheering. A gem of a book.”
—Jacqueline Woodson, author of Another Brooklyn and Brown Girl Dreaming
“Tayari Jones is blessed with vision to see through to the surprising and devastating truths at the heart of ordinary lives, strength to wrest those truths free, and a gift of language to lay it all out, compelling and clear. That has been true from her very first book, but with An American Marriage that vision, that strength, and that truth-telling voice have found a new level of artistry and power.”
—Michael Chabon, author of Moonglow
“Tayari Jones is a great storyteller. An American Marriage holds the reader from first page to last, with her compassionate observation, her clear-eyed insight and her beautifully written and complex characters. Jones understands love and loss and writes with passion and precision about the forces that move us all from one to another.”
—Amy Bloom, author of Lucky Us
“An American Marriage asks hard questions about injustice and betrayal, and answers them with a heartbreaking and genuinely suspenseful love story in which nobody's wrong and everybody's wounded. Tayari Jones has written a complex and important novel about people trapped in a tragic situation, struggling to reconcile their responsibilities and desires.”
—Tom Perrotta, author of Mrs. Fletcher
“Tayari Jones’ An American Marriage is a stunning epic love story filled with breathtaking twists and turns, while bursting with realized and unrealized dreams. Skillfully crafted and beautifully written, An American Marriage is an exquisite, timely, and powerful novel that feels both urgent and indispensable.”
—Edwidge Danticat, author of Breath, Eyes, Memory
“This novel is peopled by vividly realized, individual characters and driven by interpersonal drama, but it is also very much about being black in contemporary America. This is, at its heart, a love story, but a love story warped by racial injustice. And, in it, Jones suggests that racial injustice haunts the African-American story. Subtle, well-crafted, and powerful.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Layered like Pearl Cleage’s What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day, this title will appeal to all readers of contemporary fiction.”
—Library Journal (starred review)
"An American Marriage is a masterpiece of storytelling, an intimate look deep into the souls of people who must reckon with the past while moving forward—with hope and pain—into the future."
“ . . . nuanced and evocative . . . An American Marriage is a compelling exploration of the thorny conflicts that drive us apart and bind us, the distorting weight of racism, and how commitment looks across time – and generations.”
" . . . breathtaking . . . Jones is a master with words and An American Marriage is the wordsmith at the top of her game."
" . . . heart-wrenching . . . An American Marriage poses profound questions about what we owe each other, and what injustices we allow to persist."
"One of America's finest writers, Tayari Jones has offered up another masterpiece with her latest novel, a tremendously powerful story about love, injustice, inequality, and strength. An American Marriage reveals how quickly dreams can be derailed due to systemic malignant forces all around us. It's a novel of vision and grace, and it will bury itself in your consciousness."
“Tayari Jones is a wonderful storyteller. Anyone who has read Jones’s earlier works (Leaving Atlanta, The Untelling, Silver Sparrow) is familiar with her strong authorial voice and her careful construction of each sentence, paragraph, and chapter. Her attention to craft is paramount. An American Marriage is an engrossing novel about many things, but at its heart, it’s a love story, a uniquely American love story.”
"It’s always an event when there’s new writing from Tayari Jones . . . "
“Jones crafts an affecting tale that explores marriage, family, regret, and other feelings made all the more resonant by her well-drawn characters and their intricate conflicts of heart and mind.”
“Jones (Silver Sparrow) lays bare the devastating effects of wrongful imprisonment in this piercing tale of an unspooling marriage . . . Masterfully executed . . . Jones uses her love triangle to explore simmering class tensions and reverberating racial injustice in the contemporary South, while also delivering a satisfying romantic drama.”
“Tayari Jones displays tremendous writing prowess with An American Marriage, an enchanting novel that succeeds at every level. From the very start, An American Marriage pulls the reader in with gorgeous prose. Even beyond its plot, the story soars. It doesn’t just focus on one instance of a marriage; it explores philosophical and political quandaries, including generational expectations of men and women, the place of marriage in modern society, systemic racism, toxic masculinity, and more. It does so in a gentle, subtle way, avoiding didacticism as it nudges the reader to question their own conventions and ideals. There are rarely novels as timely or fitting as An American Marriage. It brings abstract ideas about race and love down to the material level. The story is gripping, and the characters are unforgettable.”
—Foreword Reviews (starred review)
“Tayari Jones weaves a moving love story in her new novel, An American Marriage.”
“[A] very insightful, touching story about contemporary relationships.”
–Liberty Hardy, Book Riot
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This book was seriously so moving. Tayari created real people, people I feel like I know or went to church or school with and it's always a treat when an author writes a story so complex that you're not actually sure whose side you're supposed to be on. I wasn't going to review this book because I felt like it was going to get so many reviews that mine wouldn't matter, but I stumbled upon a one-star review for this book and the reviewer simply said "I can't connect to these characters. It was mostly letters."
I don't know how many of y'all can relate to a black couple in America ripped apart by a flawed justice system, but I personally got teary eyed by the second letter (the first one written by Roy). I'm only 22. I've never been married. I'm not a doll maker. I am NOTHING like these characters. But you know what? I can relate to them. As I read this story, I got incredibly emotional because I thought to myself--this is within the realm of possibility for me in my reality. This could happen to me. That's why this story was so moving to me.
To the reader who inspired me to write this review because they "couldn't relate" and therefore think that's a reason to one-star a beautifully written story like this, if I wanted to read books about myself, I'd just read through my old facebook statuses. Not being able to see yourself in the characters doesn't take away from the moving story being told. Often times publishing companies are wary about releasing books like Ms. Jones' because of readers like this, but for readers like me, stories like this stay with us for weeks long after we've read the last page.
I am two months into 2018 and I feel l'm going to have a very hard time finding a book that has affected me as much as this one has. Also, to the person who likened this book to a Tyler Perry show--side eyeing you and how wrong that statement was.
This is a beautifully written book that not only takes an in depth look at an American marriage that has been dealt a severe blow but also racial injustice. I love how the author switches to using only letters between the characters once Roy is sentenced to prison. It underscores the separation and distance that has been imposed between these two. They’re each fighting their individual battles – Roy with the injustice of what has been done to him and all that he’s lost when he has tried so hard to do everything right and Celestial is dealing with a battle between responsibility and desire.
The love story is heart wrenching and the suspense of what will happen is often unbearable. Highly recommended.
This book was given to me by the publisher in return for an honest review.
When I received this book in the mail, I looked it over but thought I wouldn't enjoy it. As a matter of fact, it sat on my shelf for months and I was going to pass over it. I thought I wouldn't enjoy it since the story is about a Black married couple facing problems due to the husband's incarceration. I thought "how will I relate to this?" In the spirit of expanding my reading in 2018, I picked it up...and couldn't put it down. The low, rumbling thunder of the storyline absolutely gripped me. Celestial and Roy have many common marriage challenges (in-laws, discussions about starting a family, their careers) that make their marriage relatable and while Roy's incarceration the central axis around which the story revolves, this is not a story about prison. It is a story of all the people who are affected by Roy's incarceration. Tayari Jones captured so many layers of emotion in this book and I have no hesitation stating that it is one of the best novels I've ever read regarding humanity, identity, family structures, and marriage. A five star read that I am so so so glad I didn't pass over!
According to the NAACP Criminal Justice Fact Sheet:
In 2014, African Americans constituted 2.3 million, or 34%, of the total 6.8 million correctional population.
African Americans are incarcerated at more than 5 times the rate of whites
In 2012 alone, the United States spent nearly $81 billion on corrections.
Spending on prisons and jails has increased at triple the rate of spending on Pre-K-12 public education in the last thirty years.
I will forever think of An American Marriage when faced with statistics like these or in discussions of white privilege.