Friday, April 10, 2020

The Best Paige In The Book Review: An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

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One good thing to come from the COVID-19 outbreak has been more reading time. I am eternally grateful I brought my iPad home so I can read anything I download to my Kindle app. I usually prefer a physical book, but since delivery is all over the place, I'm surviving with eBooks. I have a mile-long reading list that just seems to keep growing, and law school has kept me from making any kind of dent in that list. Perhaps being stuck inside all the time and being in such an uncontrollable and unpredictable situation has also contributed to my wanting to get lost in a good book. My latest read was An American Marriage by Tayari Jones, and I absolutely loved it!

The book is about Roy and Celestial, a couple that has been married for a year. Roy is accused of a crime that he did not commit and gets sentenced to 12 years in prison. During Roy's imprisonment, Celestial tries to stay committed to her marriage: she writes to Roy, visits him in prison, and has her uncle working tirelessly to try to get Roy released. However, their marriage had issues to begin with, and years apart isn't helping. Meanwhile, Celestial's childhood best friend, Andre, has been in love with Celestial his whole life. Andre and Celestial find comfort in each other while Roy remains imprisoned. Roy's sentence is finally overturned after 5 years, and he hopes to reclaim as much of his former life as possible. But just how much was left untouched and unchanged after 5 years?

This book was written so beautifully; it takes an issue that's faced by far too many and gives it a story and a rich context. Tayari Jones writes from the point-of-view of Roy, Celestial, and Andre rather than just one single character. Each has a backstory and experiences that led them to be intertwined with the others. Witnessing the events of the novel through the eyes of each character allows the reader to understand how much of an impact wrongful accusations and imprisonment can have on many different lives. Each character has their own strengths and flaws, and the reader is hard-pressed to completely take any one character's side throughout the book.

I felt so many different emotions and sympathies while I was reading. I understood Roy's sorrow from being in prison for a crime he didn't commit, Celestial's sense of loneliness at the loss of her husband and uncertainty of how to move forward, and Andre's longing for someone who was always just out of his reach. I even thought about the victim of the crime Roy was accused of: she still experienced a heinous crime, even though it wasn't committed by Roy, and she is now responsible for the 5 years of life that Roy lost in prison. This book will make you think and it will stir emotions.

Rating: ★★★★
Favorite Quotes:
  • "All that was a long time ago, when things were different. I know nostalgia is a hell of a drug, but I can't help recalling those days when we were underage and broke."
  • "When a woman shuts you out, picking the lock won't let you back in."
  • "Is this nostalgia? Is this how it really happened? I wish we had taken a photo so we could remember how we looked."
  • "But how you feel love and understand love are two different things. Now, so many years down the road, I recognize that I was alone and adrift and that he was lovely in the way that only a ladies' man can be. He reminded me of Atlanta, and I reminded him of the same. All there were reasons why we were drawn to each other, but standing with him outside of Maroons, we were past reason. Human emotion is beyond comprehension, smooth and uninterrupted, like an orb made of blown glass."
  • "I'm not saying that there is anything between then, but I'm saying that there has always been something between them."
  • "I felt his emotion, deeper than the grave, and I understood his hopelessness, too, his longing for a woman you could never hold."

I highly recommend this book! The writing is so captivating, and it tells a story that headlines and statistics about the wrongfully accused and imprisoned cannot hope to convey. You can read this book in hard copy or through Amazon's kindle app here. Let me know how you like it!

Make today the best page yet!

(All images and text reprinted with permission from Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill)


  1. Sounds like a great book! I usually prefer real books too, but maybe I should get on the e-reading train right now since it is easier!

    1. Haha eBooks definitely save on shelf space! And you have to love the contactless delivery!

  2. Paige, I work in a library and we are at least cleaning, checking in and putting away our bookdrop.I just had this book in my hand yesterday, and debated checking it out. The only thing that stopped me was the large pile of books I already have checked out! Lol I will definitely have to read it ASAP now! Thanks for the great reviewm

    1. Hi Diane! It was definitely a good read (and on my growing reading list too lol)!