A NEW YORK TIMES AND WASHINGTON POST NOTABLE BOOK
A 2018 BEST OF THE YEAR SELECTION OF NPR * TIME * BUSTLE * O, THE OPRAH MAGAZINE * THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS * AMAZON.COM
OPRAH’S BOOK CLUB 2018 SELECTION
LONGLISTED FOR THE 2018 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR FICTION
“A moving portrayal of the effects of a wrongful conviction on a young African-American couple.” —Barack Obama
“Haunting . . . Beautifully written.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Brilliant and heartbreaking . . . Unforgettable.” —USA Today
“A tense and timely love story . . . Packed with brave questions about race and class.” —People
“Compelling.” —The Washington Post
“Epic . . . Transcendent . . . Triumphant.” —Elle
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.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
This may be the most moving love-triangle story we’ve ever read. An American Marriage is the story of Celestial and Roy, a newlywed black couple whose passionate relationship hits an unfathomable hurdle just 18 months after their wedding. Tayari Jones has written an unshakable novel that brilliantly combines the personal and the political. Her three main characters—and their respective families—will stay in our hearts for a long, long time.
Jones (Silver Sparrow) lays bare the devastating effects of wrongful imprisonment in this piercing tale of an unspooling marriage. Roy, an ambitious corporate executive, and Celestial, a talented artist and the daughter of a self-made millionaire, struggle to maintain their fledgling union when Roy is sentenced to 12 years in prison on a rape charge he is adamant is false. Before Roy's arrest, the narrative toggles between his and Celestial's perspectives; it takes an epistolary form during his imprisonment that affectingly depicts their heartbreaking descent into anger, confusion, and loneliness. When Roy is proven innocent and released seven years early, another narrator is introduced: Andre, Celestial's lifelong best friend who has become very close to her while Roy has been away. Jones maintains a brisk pace that injects real suspense into the principal characters' choices around fidelity, which are all fraught with guilt and suspicion, admirably refraining from tipping her hand toward one character's perspective. The dialogue especially the letters between Roy and Celestial are sometimes too heavily weighted by exposition, and the language slides toward melodrama. But the central conflict is masterfully executed: Jones uses her love triangle to explore simmering class tensions and reverberating racial injustice in the contemporary South, while also delivering a satisfying romantic drama.
Beautifully written and really cared about all the characters.
From the beginning, this story spirals the reader through the point of view of three different characters. I stayed up far too late reading this book because I truly cared how the stories would resolve. Very timely themes and believable characters make this a terrific choice for Oprah’s Book Club.
Hard to put down. Exquisite prose, masterful storytelling.