Synopsis: 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.
An American Marriage: A Novel (2018) by Tayari Jones is a heartbreaking book.
And what makes it so unbearable is how accurate the novel is.
Jones creates a fictional history that is not fictional at all. Even though Celestial, Roy and Andre don’t exist, they are real. The three of them represent lots and lots of black people in America and the world.
Racism still is endemic in today’s society. So, going by the pages, it is impossible not to relate the fiction to reality.
The trial part in which Roy is condemned without evidence other than the traumatized victim’s testimony is an everyday news piece. The way prison breaks up relations is also a true story. What you have to do to survive when behind bars also is real!
And everything that happens on the outside, the search for comfort, the search for the truth, the way society judges you and how you are not really free even after being realized, are, again, true stories and feelings.
My experience reading An American Marriage: A Novel is of rage. I was enraged not by the book but the truth of the fiction. I wanted the words to be nothing more than pure fantasy, but they aren’t. So, to that, I give my most sincere compliments to the author.
But, I need to say that I didn’t like the end of the book. The novel is not fast-paced, as it shouldn’t. To explore everything that needs to be explored, you need time. But the end is too fast. Things happen in the blink of an eye, and I didn’t feel what the characters felt. This remarkable work deserved, in my opinion, a couple more pages. Just so we could stay connected to the feelings of the characters.
To me, Tayari Jones did an extraordinary job creating a fictional reality, or a real fiction–it is up to you to decide–, but the end does not live to the incredible level of the rest of the book. But I more than recommend the reading. An American Marriage: A Novel, to me, is a new classic that everyone should read!
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