An American Marriage
By Tayari Jones
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Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of the American Dream.
He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career.
Until one day 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.
Devastated and unmoored, Celestial finds herself struggling to hold on to the love that has been her centre, taking comfort in Andre, their closest friend.
When Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, he returns home ready to resume their life together.
A masterpiece of storytelling, An American Marriage offers a profoundly insightful look into the heats and minds of three unforgettable characters who are at once bound together and separated by forces beyond their control.Tweet
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This was a really interesting book as it touched on so many different topics, especially racial discrimination in America. We liked the format of the book with narration from different characters, as it gave an insight into how each person considered the situation, and we found the letter writing to be a useful narrative tool to show the passing of time and the impact it has on the relationship, focusing on the way the characters interact with each other. We had a particularly interesting discussion about whether the woman in the hotel is black or white, with the group virtually split in half of what we thought, as it never actually says. We felt this gave an insight into some of our preconceptions, based both on the setting of the novel, and on other books (To Kill a Mockingbird was mentioned) and news events. We also wondered what we would have done if we were in Celestial's position, and whether she betrayed her husband, or if we as the reader are set up to believe that their marriage was destined to fall apart. Overall, we felt it was incredibly written and raised a number of interesting and important discussion points, especially around racism in America today. A worthy winner of the Women's Prize!
An American Marriage is a clear example of the war that black men and women constantly fight against white supremacy. How their place in society is dictated to them. How this then affects their relationships and their expected roles within the home and community. How black people battle daily to write their own destinies, to feel human, to own and not be owned.
A superb book in every way. It looks at inequalities related to race in the legal system and also explores gender roles. The result is a very powerful, deftly told story of a marriage. It is gripping, thoughtful, thought provoking, emotional and a really great read. Highly recommended.
Jones' writing is so powerful this book made me physically flinch. Magnificent.
We read this in connection with The Reading Agency and were kindly gifted books by the publisher but the review is purely out thoughts.
This book is a little different to our normal read as it's a little more literary, but we did enjoy some elements of it. We really liked the epistolary style of the first and last sections of this book, we felt that it was a good way of showing how everyone starts to misunderstand and upset each other as reading a letter doesn't always give the feeling behind the writing so things can be missed in the understanding.
No-one in this book is perfect by any means, they are all ordinary people making mistakes as they go through life. Some of their mistakes are a little more thoughfully done than others though, maybe the intent behind some was worse than with others.
We felt we were missing a lot of the story because we're a group of white British women who have no link to the culture described in this book. We didn't understand a lot of the references made to things like American TV shows that we just never got over in the UK. Maybe if we had that kind of background information we would have understood more of the book. On the whole we found it an interesting glimpse into a life we will never live.
We had a discussion about how we as women live our lives very differently to men, this was off the back of discussing how the black men in this book just accepted that their lives would involve being pulled over by the police for no reason. We discussed how different people in the world experience it so differently and it's not obvious unless it's pointed out how different it really is.
Overall we gave this book 7 out of 10.
Very interesting book in terms of relationships and insight into life in the south of america.