For the month of June in the PopSugar TeacherGram Takeover Book Club that I’m in, we were to read this book. I actually won this copy in a giveaway on Instagram which was pretty cool. To be honest, I never heard of the book. However, according to the cover, it was one of Oprah’s Book Club selections for 2018, a Women’s Prize for Fiction winner in 2019, and one of the New York Times 100 Notable Books in 2018. Needless to say, I had some pretty high hopes for this book.
A captivating love story that is also a clear-eyed look at the effects of the injustice in contemporary American life, Tayari Jones’s novel gorgeously chronicles three people who are bound together and separated by forces beyond their control. As newlyweds, Celestial and Roy are living the American Dream. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But after Roy’s incarceration for a crime he did not commit, Celestial, bereft and unmoored, turns to childhood friend and Roy’s best man, Andre, for support. As Roy’s absence drags on, Celestial faces soul-wrenching decisions about balancing loyalty with independence, desire with social and familial expectations, and what is right with what is fair–and to whom. Gripping, timely, and masterful, An American Marriage looks deep into the souls of people who must reckon with the past while moving forward–with hope and pain–into the future.
In my humble opinion, this book is not for me. I actually finished it but as I read the book, I was annoyed. I’m not gonna sit here and be like it was a 2/5 book. I would not say that at all. However, I did not enjoy this book. I don’t read a lot of books by African American writers. I know, I preach that representation matters, and it does, but I don’t really like the majority of adult contemporary books by African American writes. YA is another story but adult contemporary? No. Sadly this was not an exception.
Where do I begin? First of all, I don’t mind the different perspectives of the book. I enjoyed that and I enjoyed how they corresponded through letters for some of the book. Another thing that I enjoyed were the parents. To me, they were actually my favorite characters of the book. They were the voices of reasoning and I appreciated that. The book was very character driven as well, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The pacing was pretty good. It was a quick read and it flowed nicely.
What I did not enjoy was the situation. I’m pretty traditional and my views on the sanctity of marriage were molded by the way I was raised (I was raised a Jehovah’s Witness). Marriage to me is sacred and shouldn’t be taken lightly (there’s a reason why they say til’ death). To see the way they treated marriage disgusted me. Now there are a lot of people who are used to the way the three of them (Roy, Andre, and Celestial) thought and viewed things which is why I stated that the book is not for me. If you can overlooked the fact that Roy and Celestial were a married couple, then fine.
I didn’t find the main characters likable. Celestial was a coward in my opinion because she was scared to just be honest. I feel like if she could’ve been honest from the get go, then a lot of issues could’ve been avoided. Roy should’ve just accepted things as the way they were. He wanted her to be something that she wasn’t and he knew that she was just going along with whatever he wanted. Andre is just plain old wrong. I know Celestial was his friend first but he should’ve respected the fact that she was married and maybe went after someone who reminded him of Celestial or waited until the right time to get into a relationship with her (no that’s not a spoiler because it happens during the book and not at the end). It easy to see how him and Celestial’s relationship started changing but I just couldn’t get down with it.
All in all, this was a 3/5. I just wanted the book to end and I’m actually happy I didn’t spend my money on it. I will honestly probably pay it forward and leave it in one of those free library things that I sometimes see around town. Before I won my copy, I was going to order it from Amazon.
Have you read this book? If so, how did you enjoy it? What book do you want me to review next?