City Life is the City of Cardiff's premier lifestyle magazine.

Book Review: An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

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Recently, I have heard and read so much about this book that I could not wait to get my hands on a copy to see if it lived up to its hype (and yes, yes it does). I am not surprised that it had to be reprinted ten times in its publication year.

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This story centres around Roy and Celestial, a young African-American couple not even two years into their marriage when Roy is literally yanked from his life and imprisoned for a crime he did not commit.

Left alone and devastated, Celestial struggles to hold on to their love whilst their best friend Andre helps comfort her in her time of need. When Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned five years into his twelve year sentence, he believes he is ready to step back into his old life. However, his sudden return sends Celestial’s world into a tail spin, while Roy has been incarcerated, she has continued her life, growing her career and learning to live without Roy. This results in both parties needing to assess whether their marriage is simply worth it.

Jones has the most beautiful way of inviting her readers into a narrative that captivates, leaving them holding their breath and racing to finish each page. The character development of Roy is exceptional. At the start of the novel I really couldn’t get on board with him, I thought him to be arrogant and thoughtless, especially in regards to the way he treated his wife at the beginning of their marriage. But as the story progresses, his character grows and changes and as a reader you see him develop humility and understanding. Jones creates the perfect amount of tension through the narrative: I especially liked the use of letters within the novel. As a reader you are literally on the edge of your seat awaiting Roy’s homecoming.

I particularly enjoyed the ending of this novel, without giving too much away as I would hate to spoil it for anyone who has not yet read it, I thought it was the right ending.

The novel explores love, marriage and loss in a beautifully constructed way. It allows the reader to delve into the story line and be swept away by two people fighting against a wrongful conviction that has ultimately changed the course of their lives. Most importantly, Jones highlights race within this novel and educates her readers on racism and how it does take place every day. Making this novel a very important novel for this day and age.

We rate it: 5/5

An American Marriage is available on Amazon. Click here to view now.

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Reviewed by Grace Collins

Hi, I’m Grace, a twenty-something gal based in South Wales with my two cats. You can always find me with my head stuck in a book! Follow my Instagram page @thecwtchbookclub for more recommendations and reviews.

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