I have had a copy of An American Marriage: A Novel for months now. I bought it as soon as it was published but for some reason never got around to reading it. I finally did over the weekend and mannnnnn, it was definitely worth the wait. I understand why Oprah chose this novel for her book club.
Celestial and Roy have only been married for a short time, but they’ve already had problems in the relationship. Warning signs, if you will. But they hold on and try to work through their differences. But the marriage is tested beyond belief when Roy is falsely accused of a crime and sent to prison. What happens to a couple when their relationship, already teetering towards extinction, is faced with a challenge neither one sees coming? That, my dear readers, is the premise of Tayari Jones’ incredible novel. And let me tell you, this book had me going through the motions.
I have no desire to get married. Never have, never will. So with that idea already firmly implanted in my brain, it was tough reading through An American Marriage because all I could think about was why Celestial and Roy were even married. Roy reminded me of a few of my ex-boyfriends who wanted their cake but took no responsibility for eating it. And Celestial reminded me of too many women who stayed in marriages they knew they didn’t want. I know, I know, marriage is work. And yes, I understand that in order to make it work, there has to be compromise and communication. But who has time for that when you’re unhappy?
Ms. Jones wrote Celestial and Roy as genuine, flawed human beings. They argued easily, loved passionately and had insecurities many of us have. But they weren’t likeable, and I appreciated that. I don’t always want to like characters in a novel, and I didn’t like too many of the ones in An American Marriage, except for Roy Sr. The love he has for his wife and son is breathtaking, the kind of love that would make even a hard rock like me run down the aisle. But everyone else had me rolling my eyes, talking back to the book and saying more than my fair share of swear words while I ignored the outside world and read. Ms. Jones wrote a novel that grabs you from the very first page and I almost called out from work just so I could finish it uninterrupted. She lays Roy’s and Celestial’s marriage out for all to see, and although it is brutal at times, you will not look away.
An American Marriage: A Novel is out now. Pick up a copy from wherever you buy books or your local library. I highly recommend it.