Review: An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
|An American Marriage by Tayari Jones releases 2/6/18 from Algonquin|
**I received a complimentary copy of this release from the publisher**
Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together.
When I received this book in the mail, I looked it over but thought I wouldn't enjoy it. As a matter of fact, it sat on my shelf for months and I was going to pass over it. I thought I wouldn't enjoy it since the story is about a Black married couple facing problems due to the husband's incarceration. I thought "how will I relate to this?" In the spirit of expanding my reading in 2018, I picked it up...and couldn't put it down. The low, rumbling thunder of the storyline absolutely gripped me. Celestial and Roy have many common marriage challenges (in-laws, discussions about starting a family, their careers) that make their marriage relatable and while Roy's incarceration the central axis around which the story revolves, this is not a story about prison. It is a story of all the people who are affected by Roy's incarceration. Tayari Jones captured so many layers of emotion in this book and I have no hesitation stating that it is one of the best novels I've ever read regarding humanity, identity, family structures, and marriage. A five star read that I am so so so glad I didn't pass over!
According to the NAACP Criminal Justice Fact Sheet:
- In 2014, African Americans constituted 2.3 million, or 34%, of the total 6.8 million correctional population.
- African Americans are incarcerated at more than 5 times the rate of whites
- In 2012 alone, the United States spent nearly $81 billion on corrections.
- Spending on prisons and jails has increased at triple the rate of spending on Pre-K-12 public education in the last thirty years.
I will forever think of An American Marriage when faced with statistics like these or in discussions of white privilege.