I think I’m one of many who have both a lot to learn and have learned a lot in the past few months from the Black Lives Matter movement. One of the commitments I’ve made to myself recently, is to be more conscious of which stories I’m reading and whose voices I’m paying attention to and amplifying. So, I thought I’d take a look at my TBR pile and pick-up a book I’ve been meaning to read for awhile: An American Marriage.
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.
All I can say is I’m so glad I read this one. Tayari Jones’ writing is so beautiful and honest. My heart ached for the characters and I was filled with rage. The book makes you consider so many questions. Was the end of the book inevitable? What is the problem with the expectations we put on Celestial and Roy? What is the affect of incarceration on relationships?
Despite being a work of fiction, there are so many lessons to learn from the novel. Wrongful conviction, racial profiling, police brutality, and more are, of course, all too real for the Black community. This book sheds light on the big picture consequences of these acts but also on the little consequences someone might not consider. It gave me more perspective.
Happy reading better,