Angela M's Reviews > An American Marriage

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
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really liked it


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. On another level though, it’s a commentary on the judicial system that isn’t always fair and of the racism reflected in the prison system.

Through these letters and their alternating narratives as well as Andre, who is Celestial’s life long friend, the complexity of these individuals is depicted. It becomes clear in many ways how their pasts and their family situations shaped them as the adults they are today, but it isn’t clear about what their decisions will be moving forward when it is determined that Roy is innocent and is released from prison after serving five years. I was impressed with how evenly these characters are portrayed. I equally liked and disliked each of them at different times. The two characters that I had no reservations about were Ray’s parents Big Ray and Olive who loved Ray unconditionally. A lot of times like so many other readers I suspect, when we’re in the middle of a book we have an idea, a hope perhaps, of how we want the story to conclude . I wasn’t sure how I wanted this to end and I was surprised, but satisfied when I read the epilogue. Even though Roy and Celestial had been married for just over a year before he is incarcerated, it was sad that the racial injustices of the system, of society overall took from them the next five years of their marriage. A thought provoking and moving story for sure.

Thanks to Diane for sending me this book.
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Reading Progress

February 12, 2018 – Shelved
February 12, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
May 15, 2018 – Started Reading
May 17, 2018 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-47 of 47 (47 new)

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Wendy Great review Angela


Angela M Thank you , Wendy !


Diane S ☔ Glad you liked it! Wonderful review, Angela.


Angela M Thanks , Diane . You knew I would !


Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader Lovely review, Angela! Knowing you and Cheri loved this one, I am now pretty certain I will, too. Just need to make the time for it!


Angela M Jennifer, it’s a good story and I do think you’d appreciate it . Thanks !


Karen I’m so glad you like it too! Wonderful review Angela!


Angela M Karen, thanks! I think over 70 of my GR friends rated this 4 or 5 stars !


Norma * Traveling Sister Wonderful review, Angela! I hope to get to this one soon! :-)


Bianca Fantastic review. I have the book on my bedside table, I hope to start reading it this weekend.


message 11: by Jaline (new) - added it

Jaline Excellent review, Angela! This one is on my wishlist! [On another note, I wish I could connect this young couple with the lawyer Andy Carpenter in a series I'm fond of. In one of the first couple of books I read, he successfully defended a young black man who had been imprisoned for 7 years for a crime he didn't commit. Andy not only won the re-trial, but successfully negotiated a lawsuit for the young man for several millions of dollars. Andy and Willie (the young man) then set up Tara's Foundation, which is run mostly by Willie and his young wife - they interview people to take in rescue dogs! :) ]


message 12: by Sharon (new) - added it

Sharon Metcalf I don't have any immediate plans to read this one but it is already on my TBR and your excellent review has done nothing to dissuade me. I've heard only good things. Thanks as always Angela.


Brandice Wonderful review, Angela. Evenly is the perfect word to describe how the main characters were portrayed - my feelings toward each of them shifted multiple times as I was reading the story. I loved this boom, and your review!


Angela M Thanks so much , Norma, Bianca, Jaline, Sharon, and Brandice.

Jaline , interesting coincidence!
Brandice , she definitely did a terrific job in presenting the characters. There were times when I wanted to dislike Andre but really couldn’t!


Karen Angela M wrote: "Karen, thanks! I think over 70 of my GR friends rated this 4 or 5 stars !"
I know, it was different, it was nothing like I thought it would be, really held my attention, and I liked the letters too.


Lindsay - Traveling Sister Wonderful review Angela! I’m so glad we both enjoyed this one. 😊


Angela M Karen, I thought those letters told so much about them, more than a straight narrative would .


Angela M Lindsay, thanks ! Such a good story!


message 19: by Tammy (new)

Tammy If done well, epistolary novels reveal a great deal. Glad you enjoyed, Angela!


Angela M Thanks, Tammy !


message 21: by Jen (new) - added it

Jen Yay! Great review - looking forward to this even more with your endorsement, Angela!


message 22: by Sue (new) - added it

Sue Nice review, Angela. This book sounds like it could be from the day’s newspaper, sadly. It’s on my list, hopefully to be read before long.


Angela M Thanks, Jen and Sue. Sue , definitely realistic.


Jeannie Nice review, Angela!


message 25: by Candi (new) - added it

Candi Wonderful review, Angela. I'm hoping to find some time for this one. I love the idea of letter writing, too :)


Angela M Thanks, Jeannie and Candi!


Larry H Great review, Angela! I really enjoyed this one!


Angela M Larry , thanks . Definitely a good story.


Cheri Wonderful review, Angela, I'm so happy that you enjoyed this one, although not at all surprised.


message 30: by Libby (new) - added it

Libby Great review Angela! I thought this quote by Balzac fit your review...
“Laws are spider webs through which the big flies pass and the little ones get caught.”
― Honoré de Balzac


Angela M Cheri, thanks ! Not surprised either since you loved it :)


Angela M Libby, thanks so much . Great quote !


☮Karen Thanks for putting my thoughts down so well, Angela! I finished listening to it, and didn't do a review because I just didn't know what to say, didn't think I could do it justice. Your review is perfect! I always like reading letters.


Angela M Karen, thanks! Over 70 of my GR friends gave this 4 or 5 stars . A good one for sure . I think the letters reveal so much .


message 35: by Laysee (new)

Laysee I agree, Angela, that a handwritten letter has an edge over email in personal touch and intimacy. Appreciate reading your thoughts on this book.


Angela M Thanks, Laysee . I love books contain letters and even though this was not totally epistolary , these letters were so revealing about the characters.


JanB Angela, I own this (BOTM) and my book club just chose it as our June book - I'm happy to see you enjoyed it! Great review.


Angela M Jan , thanks ! I think it will make a great book club read . Hope you enjoy it !


message 39: by Deanna (new)

Deanna Awesome review!! I have this on audio and hope to listen soon.


Angela M Deanna, thanks so much . I think you’ll love if . Looking forward to your thoughts.


message 41: by Fran (new)

Fran Lovely review, Angela!


Angela M Thanks, Fran!


message 43: by Esil (new) - rated it 5 stars

Esil Great review, Angela. I heard so many good things about this one, I have ended up buying it and plan to read it soon.


Angela M Thanks, Esil. I have read a few not so positive reviews but so many GR friends loved it . Hope you do !


Elyse Walters Good morning… Just became in my space and I see that you read it and it’s nice to know that you got some value out of it enjoyed it... A great review!!
And while I’m here… A very big wave and hi and love to you 💕


Angela M Elyse wrote: "Good morning… Just became in my space and I see that you read it and it’s nice to know that you got some value out of it enjoyed it... A great review!!
And while I’m here… A very big wave and hi an..."


Elyse , I know you found meaning in this one too, just reread your review. A big wave and love to you too !


Britany I loved the letters too! ;)


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