What comes to mind when you think about marriage?

I love love, and for me, marriage is for life – literally.

I know you may ask, “What if circumstances change and you realize you are unhappy? Do you just stay in it for life?” I’ll give my answer to that when I get married.

Now to the book…When I got this book, I thought it was one of those black man gets incarcerated stories. Where he gets sentenced to imprisonment and the marriage has to go through the difficulties caused by an unjust system.

Well, this is not entirely what the book is about…

An American Marriage instead, is about the devastation of a family.

Celestial and Roy — in love, educated, middle-class members of the post-integration African-American generation — are decidedly upwardly mobile and unconcerned about issues of racial uplift and representation, though they have been chaptered and versed by their parents in the language of oppression.

With Roy’s career “on the come-up,” as he describes it, and Celestial building a portfolio as an artist, they see a trajectory to become black rich, maybe even white rich.

But, after only 18 months of marriage, Roy is sentenced to 12 years in prison. An innocent man, happily married, who does all the right things to succeed, is nonetheless sidelined to a concrete cell. The unfairness of the years stolen from this couple because of someone else’s mistake, the infinite error that derails Roy’s life, is the book’s slow burn.

Every time I would turn a page, I would be filled with so much anger and would constantly tell my best friend how the book was not going how I wanted it to go 😅.

Much of this story comes alive in the letters that Roy and Celestial write each other during and after his incarceration. The author, Tayari Jones, recreates the couple’s grief, despair, and anger until they finally work their way to acceptance. This is complicated emotional territory navigated with bluntness and precision, making what isn’t said as haunting as the letters themselves.

While in prison, Roy’s life disintegrates while Celestial finds financial and artistic success making dolls in Roy’s likeness.

There’s so much that goes on in here and as you read the letters, even from Roy’s best friend who I haven’t mentioned here, your emotions will be evoked.

Sadly, this is a reality that many marriages face. “An American Marriage” is a reminder of this. This could be anyone – the book whispers.

I’d highly recommend this book.

If you would like a soft copy of An American Marriage, comment below.