I discovered an “American Marriage” while I was updating my currently reading books on Goodreads. There was an ad for the novel at the top of the page. I had never heard of the novel or the writer, Tayari Jones. My first thought was that the advertising served her well, because it caught my attention. My second thought was that I loved the title. What is an American marriage? Then I noticed that the book had been given Oprah’s seal of approval and that it had over a hundred thousand ratings and over eleven thousand reviews on Goodreads, and over two thousand reviews on Amazon with a 4.4 rating. Then I wondered, how I had missed this gem. It had to be good, right? Oprah endorsed it.
Curious, I read the sample, and I was hooked at the chapter titled ROY. The book is told from multiple POV’s, and Roy is the husband in the marriage. His wife is Celestial. We hear from her also in the novel, as well as her best friend Andre, who ends up playing a crucial role in the lives of Roy and Celestial. Yes, it’s a winding story—a great story, that’s told with beautiful words and phrases. It’s written like a magnificent symphony. If Tony Morrison and James Baldwin had had a baby, An American Marriage would be their child. Reading this book was like sitting down at Big Mama’s table for a feast of greens, macaroni and cheese, fried chicken, potato salad, cornbread, sweet tea, and hot apple pie. It’s layered and rich.
Tayari starts out painting a lovely picture of Roy and Celestial. Young, in love, and with hopes of marriage and a family. Yes, they have different backgrounds. Celestial comes from a wealthy family, and Roy has had to work his way to the top. Despite their differences, love holds them together. Then shortly after they’re married, the unthinkable happens and Roy is falsely accused, leaving Celestial alone. But she’s not quite alone. Andre, her childhood friend helps her get through this horrendous ordeal. But in doing so, things go in a direction that no one expected, creating a conundrum that turns Roy, Celestial, and Andre’s lives upside down. You’ll have to read the book to find out what happens and how it happens. Warning, once you start, you won’t be able to put it down. An American Marriage is an American Masterpiece.