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An American Marriage: A Novel Hardcover – 2018
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OPRAH’S BOOK CLUB 2018 SELECTION One of the most anticipated novels of 2018 according to Entertainment Weekly * Goodreads * Esquire * Elle * Cosmopolitan *BBC * Huffington Post * Bustle * Southern Living * Newsday * Bookish * Nylon * iBooks Store “Transcendent . . . Triumphant . . . Gorgeous.”—Elle “A stunning epic love story . . . An exquisite, timely, and powerful novel that feels both urgent and indispensable.”—Edwidge Danticat Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the
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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.
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.
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.