An American Marriage, by Tayari Jones
Published by OneWorld Publications, 19th March 2018
Genres: Contemporary fiction
Trigger warnings: racism, discrimination, wrongful incarceration, abortion
Celestial and Roy are celebrating their first wedding anniversary when the unimaginable happens: Roy is arrested and accused of a crime he did not commit. He is sentenced to 12 years and both of their lives will never be the same.
Celestial is left to pick up the pieces of their life, knowing that she will not be reunited with her husband for many many years. Roy struggles with the accusation and verdict which put him behind bars, and how to be a good husband, son and friend from inside. Hard decisions are made, hearts broken and lives put on hold.
This was such a great book. I had high expectations after listening to a Reading Women podcast episode a while ago and seeing all the great reviews the book received. It was a truly emotional and powerful read and focuses on such important issues.
One of my favourite parts was the time when Roy was incarcerated. That may sound weird, but hear me out! The author made the decision to change the style up a bit and this period of the story is told through the letters exchanged between the various characters. This was so interesting as it gave a real feeling of how communication would really have taken place, as well as showing all the various characters’ thoughts and emotions.
Another thing I enjoyed was the multiple perspectives, with chapters centred on different characters. The characters themselves were really interesting and I found that I was very drawn into their lives. The only person I didn’t like was Andre, Celestial’s best friend. I found him very hard to warm to, he came across as quite pathetic and whiny, but also selfish and kind of sly. He was not my favourite!
All in all, I think this was a really great book. It perfectly captured the struggles a couple would face when one of them is imprisoned and showed just how much wrongful incarceration can affect the lives of everyone touched by it, not only the accused.
My rating: 4/5