An American Marriage/

Book notes and thoughts on An American Marriage by Tayari Jones:

1. Roy and Celestial are an African-American couple who have been married for about a year and a half. They are just at the beginning of their lives together: planning their careers, discussing if it’s time to have a baby, relating to the in-laws, all the things that a young, married couple has on their mind. But Roy is wrongfully accused of a crime and imprisoned for a 12-year term. An American Marriage is a story of racial injustice and wrongful imprisonment and the effect of incarceration on a person and how the effects ripple out and affect the lives of family members.

“The heart wants what it wants… -Emily Dickinson

2. It’s also a story of love and marriage. There is an Emily Dickinson quote that I was reminded of: “The heart wants what it wants – or else it does not care -” I believe this quote is from a letter* (link to the Emily Dickinson archives). The quote reminds us that there is no explaining and predicting what the heart wants, who it loves, and equally importantly, who it leaves behind.

3. Personal notes: I loved this book. I listened to it as an audiobook and it was a fantastic production. As with any book, I started out by taking sides. I sided with, and rooted for, Roy and Celestial throughout the book. The injustice was obvious, quick, done, and decided. Then I took Roy’s side, followed by Celestial’s side, and so on until the end of the book. The books is about race and class differences but without giving too much of the plot away, the book also brought home this fact: the nature of marriage is changing. We don’t have our parents marriages and that can be both good and bad. It also felt as if the author compared imprisonment and marriage (Remember all the “marriage is a life sentence” jokes?)

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