JanB 's Reviews > An American Marriage

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
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bookshelves: book-of-the-month, book-club

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, unfair as it was, can totally change the trajectory of your life. It gives food for thought.
- it was thought-provoking with complex moral themes surrounding loyalty and marriage

What I didn’t like:
- The characters. While I sympathized with their plight I just didn’t like them. Which I can’t explain because I usually like my characters somewhat complicated and flawed. Unlikability is not a deal breaker, but I like what I like and often I can’t even explain why I am so turned off by some characters.
- The plot – after the beginning I just stopped caring. It felt like I was reading the script of a cheesy movie. There’s a time and place for cheesy, it just wasn’t what I was expecting when I went into this book.
- The epilogue! My eyes may have rolled more than once.

I will definitely read anything else the author writes because I found this book so well-written and her style so engaging, but this one just didn't quite work for me. It all boiled down to plot.
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Reading Progress

February 19, 2018 – Shelved
February 19, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
February 19, 2018 – Shelved as: book-of-the-month
May 27, 2018 – Started Reading
June 12, 2018 – Finished Reading
June 14, 2018 – Shelved as: book-club

Comments Showing 1-50 of 68 (68 new)


Babydimps (Suzy) Eye rolling while reading is never a good sign! Ha! Great review - wish it could’ve been better for you! 😊


message 2: by C. (new)

C. Rebel! Rebel! I love views that don't nestle with the norm. But what an odd case this is. Usually, what we dislike about a novel amounts to the writing being subpar, even if we enjoy various efforts made. Here is a case of someone you say writes very well.... but plot and getting onboard how characters feel, is part of excellence in writing. If this author is best at weaving visual descriptions, perhaps she ought to try screenplays or poetry. Carolyn.


Brandice I’m sorry you didn’t love this one, Jan! While I did, I also found all three of the main characters unlikeable throughout various parts of the story.


message 4: by Jaline (new) - added it

Jaline Terrific review, Jan! Thank you so much for writing out both your likes and dislikes with this book. I'm still not sure about this one so I've moved it to my "maybe" shelf for now. 😊


Angela M Jan, I did like this more than you , but I appreciate your honesty in telling us what worked for you and what didn’t. Great review.


Marialyce You can't like them all, Jan, and your review states so well what you disliked.


message 7: by Kaceey (new) - added it

Kaceey Great honest review Jan!😊


Norma * Traveling Sister Wonderful honest review, Jan! 😊


Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader Thoughtful review, Jan, and I hope your next read is one you love completely!


message 10: by JanB (last edited Jun 14, 2018 05:43PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

JanB Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader & Traveling Sister wrote: "Thoughtful review, Jan, and I hope your next read is one you love completely!"

Thanks so much Jennifer. I do too! Luckily I have a ton of books sitting here to choose from, ha 😉

Norma * Traveling Sister wrote: "Wonderful honest review, Jan! 😊"

Thank you Norma!


JanB Jaline wrote: "Terrific review, Jan! Thank you so much for writing out both your likes and dislikes with this book. I'm still not sure about this one so I've moved it to my "maybe" shelf for now. 😊"

Jaline, thank you. So many people loved it and you may too but if you were on the fence anyway, a maybe shelf is probably a good idea.

Brandice wrote: "I’m sorry you didn’t love this one, Jan! While I did, I also found all three of the main characters unlikeable throughout various parts of the story."

Brandice, you are in the majority and I'm glad you enjoyed it. I can't even explain it well - it just didn't resonate with me.

C. wrote: "Rebel! Rebel! I love views that don't nestle with the norm. But what an odd case this is. Usually, what we dislike about a novel amounts to the writing being subpar, even if we enjoy various effort..."

C., that's a very good point you've made! Most people love the book though so I'm sure she'll do just fine writing her novels. I'd certainly give her another try.

Babydimps (Suzy) wrote: "Eye rolling while reading is never a good sign! Ha! Great review - wish it could’ve been better for you! 😊"

Thanks Suzy, so true, haha!!


JanB Kaceey - Traveling Sister wrote: "Great honest review Jan!😊"

Thanks so much Kaceey!

Marialyce wrote: "You can't like them all, Jan, and your review states so well what you disliked."

Marialyce, so true, but I really don't like being the outlier with such a beloved book that gets so much buzz.

Angela M wrote: "Jan, I did like this more than you , but I appreciate your honesty in telling us what worked for you and what didn’t. Great review."

Thanks Angela, most people did like it more than me and to be honest, I wish I was in that group with you!


Kristin (KC) - Traveling Sister Such a well-constructed review, Jan! I appreciate your honest perspective


JanB Kristin (KC) - Traveling Sister wrote: "Such a well-constructed review, Jan! I appreciate your honest perspective"

Thanks Kristin, it's a great way for me to review a book when I don't quite know how to put my thoughts into paragraph form - haha!


Alecia Sorry this didn’t work for you, but you made clear what you thought in your very good review.


message 16: by Dana (new)

Dana Well, I got a good laugh out of your review! Yes, we’ve talked about cheesy books. I hate this one was cheesy for you and an eye-roller since I have the book. 🙄. Thanks for sharing what you did and didn’t like.


JanB Alecia wrote: "Sorry this didn’t work for you, but you made clear what you thought in your very good review."

Alecia, I had such high hopes and I feel like I'm missing out by not loving this book...oh well...


JanB Dana wrote: "Well, I got a good laugh out of your review! Yes, we’ve talked about cheesy books. I hate this one was cheesy for you and an eye-roller since I have the book. 🙄. Thanks for sharing what you did and..."

Dana, thanks, I'm glad it was worth something then, ha. Sorry it's one you own but I will venture to guess you will enjoy it - most people do. It's likely something there's something wrong with me, not the book 😉😊


message 19: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne Good reasons, Jan!


JanB Suzanne wrote: "Good reasons, Jan!"

Thanks Suzanne!


message 21: by Michelle (new) - added it

Michelle I totally understand about how you said you like what you like when it comes to unlikable characters. It's a wonder why some work for me me and some don't. Nice honest review, Jan! :)


JanB Michelle wrote: "I totally understand about how you said you like what you like when it comes to unlikable characters. It's a wonder why some work for me me and some don't. Nice honest review, Jan! :)"

Thanks Michele! I wish I could pinpoint what it is - why I love to read some books with unlikable characters and others leave me cold.


message 23: by Deanna (new)

Deanna Sorry it wasn't such a great read for you, Jan. It happens :) I do hope your next read makes up for it. I appreciate your honesty. Great review!!


JanB Deanna wrote: "Sorry it wasn't such a great read for you, Jan. It happens :) I do hope your next read makes up for it. I appreciate your honesty. Great review!!"

Thank you Deanna, these kinds of reviews are never fun to write and I appreciate your comment! 😊


message 25: by Svetlana (new)

Svetlana awe sorry it wasn’t a better read Jan. It’s nice that you gave a fair review and shared what you liked as well as disliked. hope you next book is better :)


message 26: by DeB (new)

DeB MaRtEnS I’m not reading much these days... too little time and attention! You’ve saved me again! Great review, JanB!


message 27: by Holly (new) - added it

Holly  B I'm skipping Jan! Great review.


JanB Svetlana wrote: "awe sorry it wasn’t a better read Jan. It’s nice that you gave a fair review and shared what you liked as well as disliked. hope you next book is better :)"

Thanks Svetlana, we can't all like the same things can we? I can see why some people may have loved it, but it just wasn't for me.


JanB DeB wrote: "I’m not reading much these days... too little time and attention! You’ve saved me again! Great review, JanB!"

DeB, thank you....I hope your lack of reading time is because of happy and fun things! If not, I hope things improve soon! 😊


JanB Holly wrote: "I'm skipping Jan! Great review."

Thanks Holly, but do give it a try if it sound good to you - I'm in the minority!


message 31: by Liz (new) - rated it 5 stars

Liz I know exactly what you’re saying about characters. Sometimes I can hate characters and still love a book. Other times, not being able to relate to a character totally turns me off to a book. Wish I could pinpoint why as well.


JanB Liz wrote: "I know exactly what you’re saying about characters. Sometimes I can hate characters and still love a book. Other times, not being able to relate to a character totally turns me off to a book. Wish ..."

Thanks Liz, good to know I am not alone! 😊 It's frustrating isn't it?


PorshaJo Great review Jan! I enjoyed how you laid out your likes/dislikes on this one. I did enjoy this one much more than you. I listened via audio and really do think the narration added to the book for me. But yeah, the characters were not ones you jumped out and rooted for.


JanB PorshaJo wrote: "Great review Jan! I enjoyed how you laid out your likes/dislikes on this one. I did enjoy this one much more than you. I listened via audio and really do think the narration added to the book for m..."

PorshaJo, thank you. I listened to this one too but it still didn't quite work for me. I wish it had, I so wanted to love it.


Victoria Oh dear, I feel an Immortalist vibe coming on and I'll be on the outskirts with you.


JanB Victoria wrote: "Oh dear, I feel an Immortalist vibe coming on and I'll be on the outskirts with you."

Victoria, haha, no it's better than that! My book club had a great discussion on it tonight. Its still not destined to be a favorite, but I do appreciate the message.


Anne ✨ Great review Jan! That was my experience too. I didn't love it, but I appreciated the complexities around marriage, loyalty, and morality, it really makes you think.


JanB Anne ✨ wrote: "Great review Jan! That was my experience too. I didn't love it, but I appreciated the complexities around marriage, loyalty, and morality, it really makes you think."

Thanks Anne! My book club met last night and we did have a great discussion. Everyone felt similar to us except for one person. It is thought-provoking for sure and I'd recommend it for that reason alone.


Lindsay - Traveling Sister Darn it! Too bad this one didn’t work out better for you Jan. Hope your next book is terrific!!! 😊💜


message 40: by Mackey (new)

Mackey You know I love an honest review Jan and we all like such different things. I like that you added why you didn't like it; that's important. Thank you.


Mary Beth *Traveling Sister* Lovely review, Jan! Hope your next one is a lot better.


Stacey I agree that this would make a great book club discussion!


Susanne  Strong Great review Jan! I liked this a bit more than you but I completely understand where you are coming from!


Brenda - Traveling Sister Great review, Jan!


message 45: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Love your honesty, Jan. It's hard to enjoy a book when you feel the plot closely resembles a cheesy movie and you find yourself not caring about the characters. Seems to happen to me quite a bit. Anyway, hope your next read is stellar. 🧡


JanB Hajar wrote: "Brilliant review, Jan! Hope your next read is much better🌺"

Thanks so much Hajar!

Stacey wrote: "I agree that this would make a great book club discussion!"

Yes, it's worthwhile reading just for the issues it brings up. I enjoyed our discussion more than the book itself!

Mary Beth *Traveling Sister* wrote: "Lovely review, Jan! Hope your next one is a lot better."

Thanks Mary Beth! 😊

Mackey wrote: "You know I love an honest review Jan and we all like such different things. I like that you added why you didn't like it; that's important. Thank you."

Mackey, thank you! I also love an honest review too but I don't always enjoy writing them. I try to be fair and balanced. I'm glad you found it to be so.

Lindsay - Traveling Sister wrote: "Darn it! Too bad this one didn’t work out better for you Jan. Hope your next book is terrific!!! 😊💜"

Thanks Lindsay, I do too! 😊


JanB Melissa wrote: "Love your honesty, Jan. It's hard to enjoy a book when you feel the plot closely resembles a cheesy movie and you find yourself not caring about the characters. Seems to happen to me quite a bit. A..."

Melissa, exactly! My expectations were very high too, which didn't help.

Brenda - Traveling Sister wrote: "Great review, Jan!"

Thanks Brenda!

Susanne wrote: "Great review Jan! I liked this a bit more than you but I completely understand where you are coming from!"

Susanne, I loved your brilliant review! And we agree on much of the same things. Sometimes we just can't predict how a book will strike us.


Elyse Walters Bless your outlier review JanB. Xoxo

Here’s a funny... ‘our’ friend ( and grandma).... Lisi sent me a book and I got the mail yesterday.... it’s a thick 900+ page small Stuckey size paper back book... with a note that said I stopped on page 690... maybe you’ll finish the rest.
Print is so small and such an uncomfortable size book to be holding in your hands ... afraid my eyes would start seeing double and go cross eyed. Lol.She was so close to the end.

Hope you’re good - and your grandchild too xo


JanB Elyse wrote: "Bless your outlier review JanB. Xoxo

Here’s a funny... ‘our’ friend ( and grandma).... Lisi sent me a book and I got the mail yesterday.... it’s a thick 900+ page small Stuckey size paper back boo..."


Thanks Elyse, I know you loved it so I appreciate your comment even more - very gracious of you :-)
Too funny about Lisi's small print book - good for her for lasting so long with it, lol. This is when I really appreciate my kindle and adjustable font!
My granddaughter is 2 1/2 now and so sweet and precious...where does the time go? She will soon be joined by identical twin sisters! 💕💕


message 50: by Felicia (new)

Felicia I had a feeling this was another overhyped book. Honest and fair review. On to the next one.


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