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  • Writer's pictureTerrie

A newlywed black couple, a wrongly convicted husband, big emotions: An American Marriage

What follows is a heartbreaking story of love, trust, and a marriage broken.

An American Marriage book cover

An American Marriage, Tayari Jones

Genre: General Fiction

Published 2018, 308 pages

"Human emotion is beyond comprehension, smooth and uninterrupted, like an orb made of blown glass."

This book is SO beautifully written and explores so many conflicting emotions that I found myself pausing and rereading passages to absorb the language; I have so many quotes marked throughout the book! None of the hard life depicted is in my frame of reference - but isn't that part of why we read? To see an unexpected viewpoint, a new perspective, a different reality from our own?

As the jacket explains, this is not your typical love story. This love story is full of unfairness, difficulties, stress and strain....and does it survive? I like the technique Jones uses of making each chapter one of the 3 main characters the first person narrator. It really makes you feel like you're getting the story (and back story) from inside each perspective....and each one is SO different. I rooted so hard for this couple!

However, I sometimes felt that Celestial was ...... selfish? Or self-centered? Or, just tired of fighting? I can't imagine how I'd respond in similar circumstances, so maybe that's one of the points of the book. What matters in a marriage? How do you hold to your vows? When is a marriage over? Tough questions!

A theme I noticed in the writing style was to use contrasting statements:

"We kissed like teenagers, making out under the bridge. It was a wonderful feeling to be grown and yet young. To be married but not settled. To be tied down yet free."

What a great description of marriage! And,

"A man who is a father to a daughter is different from one who is a father to a son. One is the left shoe and the other is the right. They are the same but not interchangeable."

And I love this one:

" I don't believe that blood makes a family; kin is the circle you create, hands held tight. There is something to shared genetics, but the question is, what exactly is that something? It matters that I didn't grow up with my father. It's kind of like having one leg that's a half inch shorter than the other. You can walk, but there will be a dip."

As an exploration of emotions and how people move on, or not, when faced with unimaginable circumstances, this book is a winner. Nominated for a National Book Award, it would be excellent for a book club with lots of themes to explore. Highly recommended.

#generalfiction #familyrelationships #tayarijones #racialthemes #goodforbookclub #oprahbookclub #4halfstars (click hashtags for similar books)

photo via Clement Eastwood,

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