An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Rating:           10

General Rating:  Cried like a baby over this one. I bought this by mistake when my book club was reading American Dirt. (I loved that, too.) BEST book mistake I ever made.

Skip factor:  Less than 1%. Only when I couldn’t stand to wait for the next paragraph.

Who should read:   Every. Single. White. Person. Black people will love and appreciate this book, but it should be read by every white person who has little chance of being incarcerated for a crime they did not commit.

Summary:  Roy is a proud black man with a college degree from Morehouse. He’s smart, determined, and has the world at his fingertips. Celestial, born to two parents who experienced an “irreversible” if not sordid love affair, was smart and artistic. Her mother and father were wealthy and Roy constantly feared he could not live up to Celest’s family’s standards. 

The story then is simple yet tragic. Roy is arrested for rape, a crime he did not commit. Much of the beginning of this story is written through the correspondence between Roy and Celestial.

Enter Andre, another wonderful human being. He is Roy’s best friend and Celestial’s next door neighbor. You can see where this is going. Right?

This is the story of three decent human beings whose lives are tragically altered by fate. It describes the small incidences, trickle effects, of devastation and gives a real view of how people are forced to cope with their circumstances. I cried harder over this book than any book I’ve ever read in my entire life and I am old!

Favorite lines:  As a mother and also a daughter, I was hit hardest by Roy’s statement in regard to his mother, whom he loved with all his soul. Yet. Isn’t it true that we blame our mothers for much of what is bad in our life? We never see their value until they are long gone. How inciteful of Jones:

As I watched her walk away, I made note of everything about her that I didn’t admire. I ignored the devotion that she wore like a cape, I paid no heed of her strength or hardworking beauty. I sat there thinking of all I didn’t love about her, too angry to even say goodbye. 

Writing:  Fabulous. I’m a writer and I will say that in reading this, I felt like a college football player waiting for a call to the NFL, never receiving one, and realizing my dream has been dashed, that I am just not good enough. That I pale in comparison to the Tayri Jones people of the world. She’s a powerhouse. Gifted.

Read this author again?  A simple yes is an understatement.

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Read on!


CJ Zahner is the author of The Suicide Gene, a psychological thriller; psychic thrillers Dream Wide AwakeProject Dream, and The Dream Diaries; and Chick Lit novels Friends Who Move Couches and Don’t Mind Me, I Came with the House. Zahner’s dream series novels were inspired by first-hand experiences. See the video of her 9/11 premonition  here. Download her Beyond Reality Radio podcast here. Follow her on InstagramTwitterFacebookGoodreadsBookBub, or LinkedIn. Purchase her books on Amazon.