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An American Marriage

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  329,492 ratings  ·  27,517 reviews
Newlyweds, Celestial and Roy, are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive and she is artist on the brink of an exciting career. They are settling into the routine of their life together, when they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial kn ...more
Paperback, 306 pages
Published March 7th 2019 by Oneworld (first published January 29th 2018)
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Marla McQuay The book wasn't about the verdict... it's about relationships. It's about how tenuous relationships can be without adding what happened... it's wonder…moreThe book wasn't about the verdict... it's about relationships. It's about how tenuous relationships can be without adding what happened... it's wondering if the end was inevitable without the middle.(less)
Susanna I would say that it's tragic because it shows life's injustice and the messiness of human relationships. However, it is not gratuitously melancholy li…moreI would say that it's tragic because it shows life's injustice and the messiness of human relationships. However, it is not gratuitously melancholy like a lot of books--it's real and there's growth and hope.(less)

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Average rating 3.95  · 
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 ·  329,492 ratings  ·  27,517 reviews

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Bill Gates
Dec 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A couple years ago, Melinda and I visited a state prison in Georgia as part of our foundation’s work on U.S. poverty. I’d never been to a prison before, and it was an eye-opening experience.

The most memorable part was the discussion we had with some of the inmates about transitioning back into society. Although most were looking forward to leaving prison behind, some were clearly anxious about it. One man told us he was scared to re-enter society after so many years behind bars. Another mentione
Emily May
Feb 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, modern-lit, botm
Much of life is timing and circumstance, I see that now.

I know it's still early, but I've got a feeling this is going to be one of my favourite reads of 2018. It is a powerful, subtle, sad tale about the criminal justice system in America, and the personal, long-term consequences of its injustices.

There's a lot of discussion, articles and fiction looking at race-based injustice in the prison system of the United States. Most of these focus on racial-profiling of young black men, and how juri
Feb 10, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 02-star, 2018, library
2.5 stars

I know this book is getting a lot of buzz and it was Oprah's Book Club pick so I had really high hopes but it didn't really work for me. I started to give it 3 stars but after thinking more on it I just couldn't. For me, a 3-star rating means that overall I enjoyed the book. However, this book just didn't rise to that level.

I'll start with what I did like. I liked how the author weaved in the complexities of being a successful black American. Roy was a rising business executive but bec
Meredith (Slowly Catching Up)
I can’t say that I loved An American Marriage. What I can say, is that it made me think deeply about human nature, love, and, of course, marriage.

This is a thought-provoking, well-written, depth-filled character study about a marriage on the brink.

Celestial and Roy, a young couple from Atlanta, have been married for just over a year when Roy is arrested and sentenced to 12 years in jail. Will their marriage survive their separation or will they be able to withstand Roy’s incarceration? The
chai ♡
This book stung so hard I almost looked for the cut of it on my skin.

It’s the kind of novel that sinks its teeth into you. One that enkindles in you such a brief and yet so excruciating pain. One that is so vivid the first glimpse of reality would shock you, and you would emerge from its thrall dazed, half dreaming, dizzy, and for a moment, aching, blinking, parched, unreal, everything else…fades away. One that changes you, leaves you a little different by the time you are done. But above all, o
Ashley Lloyd
Feb 17, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I cannot, for the life of me, understand why people like this book. If it weren’t for Oprah loving it, I honestly do not think people would buy it. There was no plot and it is the most boring book I’ve ever read. Basically if you read the synopsis, you’ve read all the “exciting” parts and know the entire plot. It’s technically an easy read but boring overall. I powered through to finish it since it has so many positive reviews, with the hopes that it would suddenly turn around or have an amazing ...more
Edited 9/20 to add: My book club discussed this last night and while not everyone loved the book (but no one disliked it), it made for a lively and interesting discussion. I'd highly recommend for book clubs.

I’m afraid I’m in the outlier club with this one.

What I liked:
- The writing is gorgeous. 4-5 stars for the beauty of the prose. Plus the author writes in a way that sounds like the way real people think and talk
- The letters Celestial and Roy exchanged
- How one unfortunate tragic event, unf
Elyse Walters
Update: 2018 National Book Awards: Fiction
Another great choice pick this year!!!

SMALL UPDATE: I said I would come back and write a more complete review... but a few comments in here have inspired and encouraged me ... to perhaps leave this review alone.
So.., I’ll only add a couple of things.
Sharing First: it’s funny - what happens to our minds when we move on right away to reading other books after a deep thought- provoking read...
It’s like ADDING more children to the family - expanding our h
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones is a 2018 Algonquin Books publication.

Well drawn characterizations and a thought provoking and timely topic combines to make a potent blend, which kept me riveted to the pages of this book.

Roy had done everything right, is successful, married to a beautiful woman, living the American dream- until he is falsely accused of rape and sent to prison.

Celestial finds her comfortable life turned on its axis after Roy is incarcerated. She remains loyal to her husban
Feb 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Is it possible that in mid-February I’ve already read my favorite book of 2018? An American Marriage was outstanding. Not only did I immediately become hooked and stay invested in the story, the quality of the writing was pure excellence.

A newlywed couple, Roy and Celestial, are early on in their marriage when Roy is sentenced to 12 years in jail for a crime he did not commit. This changes the course of their lives and feelings, and the story unfolds from here. Roy’s conviction is overturned 5
Barry Pierce
I decided to pick up An American Marriage because Tayari Jones has a fun instagram. Also in her By The Book in the New York Times she recounts that she once accepted a gig in Dubai just because the flight gave her nineteen uninterrupted hours of reading time. I love that. She seems like such a fun and likeable person. Therefore it really does hurt to write that An American Marriage savagely disappointed me.

The novel concerns a married couple, Roy and Celestial, who live a fairly normal life unti
Diane S ☔
Jan 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Roy has done the best he could with the life he was given. Now married to Celestial, a young woman with dreams of her own, are traveling to meet his parents for the first time. The visit will prove less than successful, and a terrible miscarriage of Justice will occur that will detail their young lives and marriage.

These are characters to that one wants to root for, wants things to turn out well for them. Of course, life seldom works that way, things change, circumstances beyond ones control int
If somehow you have made it to July 2020 without being convinced that we need to burn the entire American justice system down and try again - go ahead and give this book a try.

Come back when you’re finished.

Okay, now that we’re all on the same page, literally and figuratively:

This book is so f*cking hard to read. It’s painful. It’s hard to like any of these characters, or dislike them, for that matter.

They are right and wrong and hurting and hurt and overall so goddamn human. It kills.

This story
Lindsay - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews
4 stars! This was a beautifully written, thought-provoking, slow burn novel that crept its way into my heart, settling deep within my bones. I will be thinking of these characters long after finishing this book.

This story follows Roy and Celestial, a young newlywed couple who have a passionate and impetuous relationship – loving deeply and arguing stubbornly. They are from different “worlds”, but have found an explosive love and connection with one another. Less than two years after getting marr
One sock officially knocked off!!! (equals 4.5 rounded up up up!)

I look a little funny on my pogo stick (yes, this is a pogo stick kind of book) since I have just one sock on, but I have my reasons, really I do. The reason is that there was a slump for me in the middle of the story, so that one sock just held onto my foot like nobody’s business. But it was a short-lived slump, and the beginning and the end of the book are so insanely powerful, the other sock almost flew off my other foot. Since
That ending...

Writing- 4 stars
Characters- 3 stars
Language- 3 stars
Plot/Concept- 2 stars

Ugh! Those people exhaust me. Only the parents and Davina were likable. Can't forget about the Uncle who helped Roy. I didn't like Celestial's mother either.
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

Let’s get real. That’s the reason everyone and their damn dog read this thing. Now that I’ve read it, I’m fairly certain that’s why many users rated it so high as well. I actively avoided it for months because I wasn’t quite sure if I was still a drinker of the Oprah Kool-Aid and wanted to maintain my fond memories of a bygone era. But then a co-worker told me about a podcast she listened to where Tayari Jones was interviewed and c
Angela M (On a little break)

One of the things I liked the most about this novel is that a portion of the book is comprised of letters, mostly between Roy while in prison for a crime he didn’t commit and his wife Celestial. Letter writing seems like it’s from a bygone time and I never feel as if e-mail and certainly not texts adequately reflect the intimate picture of ourselves that a hand written letter does. This is not just about the intimate look at this one relationship, but it’s about their families and their pasts. O
Mar 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Winner of the 2019 Women's Prize for Fiction

Audiobook performed by Sean Crisden & Eisa Davis 9h

I really enjoyed the performance of these narrators as they breathe life into Tayari Jones' story. They definitely kept me riveted to my seat as the triple narrative between Celestial, Roy, and Andre unfolded. Given the title, the central story really is about this couple's marriage-their courtship and all that comes after. It was all the family relationships that convinced me this book was a sol
Emily (Books with Emily Fox)
(3.5?) This book was heartbreaking but also quite frustrating and exhausting.

I'm reading this Contemporary as part of my "Goodreads Reading Challenge" and it's not something I would usually have picked up but I understand why it's so popular.

Newlyweds struggle with their lives as Roy is falsy accused of raping a woman. The book deals with love, race, justice (or really injustice) and will leave you devastated.
Apr 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
"I feel like I need and need and need and it's wearing a hole in the fabric."

Celestial and Roy's marriage is just breaking ground as a young seedling when the earth ravages the soil and the fissures play havoc with such gentle growth. Roy has been accused of a rape that he did not commit. His kindness to a down-and-out woman has spun around on him. No matter how many times that Celestial recants the story that Roy was with her all night, the court hears otherwise. Roy will serve his time....twel
Apr 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
Nothing is ever over.

This was beautiful. This was a slow roil. A story told with realistic dialogue. A story littered with metaphors. A story sprinkled with wisdom.

I listened to the audio and it was gorgeous were the cadence and rhythm that I was often mesmerized, wrapped up in the story and swept away by what felt like a foreign language and a different culture. Highly recommend. 4.75 stars
Nilufer Ozmekik
Feb 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the effective, emotional, heartbreaking and also thought-provoking stories I’ve ever read.

I think this is a book without any grey spot: You just truly love it or you hate it. I sighed several times because this is dramatic, shaking you to the core kind of marriage analysis.
Roy is hard worker, pushing himself so hard to become a successful man from the young ages: winning his scholarship and with his creative entrepreneur skills and he successfully reshapes his life from the scrat
this is an entirely character driven novel. there is no plot beyond what you read in the synopsis - what propels this book is a study of the characters feelings and motivations. and i would have found this story compelling if i had liked the characters. but unfortunately i didnt, so this was quite a boring reading experience for me personally.

i do like that this story attempts to explore topics such as what a marriage means, how relationships between people go because just a formal union, how ci
May 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 Compelling Stars.

Marriage, on its own is a complicated venture. Throw in anything else and Kapow! Everyone always says that first year of marriage is the hardest. For Celestial and Roy, nothing will prepare them for what is to come. Madly in love, they think they can conquer the world. Such wishful thinking. After being married for a year, Roy gets arrested for a crime he didn’t commit and is sentenced to twelve years in Prison. Twelve years. What a great start to their marriage. Initially, Ce
Jun 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had never heard of this book. This kind of thing would never really be on my radar anyway. I don’t read a lot of books about marriage, relationships, love, etc.

But, listen, when Oprah tells you to read something, you read it. That’s just how the world works.

I remember that fateful day, sitting on my couch, watching The Today Show or something like that. They kept teasing the big reveal of Oprah’s new book club book. Coming up right after the break. Coming up right after this. We will be right
Mar 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-of-2018

Celestial and Roy have only been married a bit over a year when he’s found guilty of a crime. Roy isn’t a saint. Celestial discovers he’s already cheated on her on their first anniversary. But he is innocent of the crime.

In the blink of an eye, they go from living “that Huxtable life” to Roy being in prison.

The author gets certain things exactly right, like being caught between a parent and a spouse. And how little we really know about our spouse when we go into marriage. Prison forces Celesti
Justin Tate
Sep 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The strongest writing I've read in a while. Witty in all the right places. Rich characters. The plot isn't ultra-memorable but I have the feeling it's going to haunt me the more I think about it. There's a lot of overt conflict, internal and external, but the ever-present social subtext is what makes it art. Glad I didn't miss it! ...more
Aug 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An American marriage
A young marriage destroyed when the man goes to jail for a crime he didn’t commit. When he’s released finally, life has shifted from what it once was.
A reconciliation of hurt, fear, and love. Redemption and restarting.

The writing: awesome.
”When I look into your eyes
It's like watching the night sky
Or a beautiful sunrise
There's so much they hold

“And just like them old stars
I see that you've come so far
To be right where you are
How old is your soul?

“I won't give up on us
Even if the skies get rough
I'm giving you all my love
I'm still looking up”

--”I Won’t Give Up,” Jason Mraz, Songwriters: Jason Mraz, Michael Natter

Roy is a young man living in Atlanta, born and raised in Eloe, Louisiana, but Atlanta is where he raised himself from
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Tayari Jones is the author of the novels Leaving Atlanta, The Untelling, Silver Sparrow, and An American Marriage (Algonquin Books, February 2018). Her writing has appeared in Tin House, The Believer, The New York Times, and Callaloo. A member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers, she has also been a recipient of the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, Lifetime Achievement Award in Fine Arts from the Co ...more

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The American South has produced some Hall of Fame literary superstars: William Faulkner, Zora Neale Hurston, Harper Lee, Wendell Berry. And...
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“But home isn't where you land; home is where you launch. You can't pick your home any more than you can choose your family. In poker, you get five cards. Three of them you can swap out, but two are yours to keep: family and native land.” 171 likes
“Much of life is timing and circumstance, I see that now.” 113 likes
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