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An American Marriage

Tayari Jones

This is so much more than a moving, brilliantly told love story.  It also shines a spotlight on the inequalities of race, gender and class through the eyes of three engaging characters.

Roy and Celestial are newly weds with their life ahead of them.  He is from a small-town, ambitious to move onwards and upwards, charming, perhaps roguish and headover heels for his new wife.  She is a city girl from a privileged background, clever, creative and headover heels for her new husband.   When Roy is wrongfully convicted of rape and sentenced to 12 years, they believe their love will see them through.

Through their honest and often heartbreaking letters to each other, the characters become more layered and their relationships more complex.  The everyday navigations that feather any early marriage, such as having children, the in-laws, past affairs, old friendships have to be worked through from a distance.  As time elapses, it becomes clear that while Roy’s life is on hold, Celestial is growing in confidence and enjoying creative success.   When Roy is finally released after 5 years, are they on the same page?  It is mesermising reading, beautifully written and leaves you caring deeply about Roy, Celestial and their best friend, Andre.