An American Marriage

“You can never really unlove somebody. Maybe it changes shape, but it’s there.”

Author: Tayari Jones

Published: February 6, 2018

Length: 320 pages

For Fans Of:

Deep character explorations and flawed, authentic personalities. Try it out if you enjoyed Olive Kitteridge, Everything Here is Beautiful, The Goldfinch, or Marlena.


Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, 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. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together.

This stirring love story is a profoundly insightful look into the hearts and minds of three people who are at once bound and separated by forces beyond their control. 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.

My Thoughts:

This book is incredible. Incredible characters, incredible story, incredible execution. The writing has the perfect balance of details and movement – the pace keeps you moving forward, but Jones’ attention to the tiniest of details in conversation and setting really bring the story to life. And the FEELINGS. My stars, I think I went through the entire spectrum of emotions. I was wholly immersed.

“If you have a woman, you recognize when you have said the wrong thing. Somehow she rearranges the ions in the air and you can’t breathe as well.”

Roy and Celestial felt almost tangible – they were imperfect and dimensional; so authentic I felt like they were two people I could run into on the street. Jones opened them up and laid them bare –her use of letters between Roy and Celestial was brilliant, making the story feel even more intimate. Those messages were my favorite parts of the book.

“A paper clip could best the catch, but when a woman shuts you out, picking the lock won’t let you back in.”

From the early days of their relationship, through Roy’s wrongful conviction and imprisonment, I couldn’t help but become emotionally invested in what would happen to this couple. I had a hard time choosing whose side I was on, which I think completely proves Jones’ genius. She presented you with an unflinching look at these people – the best and the worst of them – and you realized there was no right or wrong answer, no good or bad character. They were all a little of each, which is so true of humans in general.

“I don’t believe that blood makes a family; kin is the circle you create, hands held tight.”

This story certainly is not all sparkly sunbeams and rainbows…but neither is life. It is, however, hopeful realistic and utterly compelling. Highly recommended.

“Maybe that’s what it means to be in love, to willingly be at the mercy of another person.”



One Comment Add yours

  1. Alyssa Marie says:

    I’ve been unsure about picking this book up because it didn’t seem like my kind of story but I think your review changed my mind! I love flawed, realistic storylines and characters. Great job!


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