An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

An American Marriage (photo courtesy of Amazon UK)

The great thing about joining a lockdown book club is that you get to read something completely different than you normally do. House21, a female-led initiative, built from the ground up to bring women together to interact and educate, suggested this book and I’m glad they did.

‘An American Marriage’ by Tayari Jones focuses on the interlinking relationship of three people, Celestial, Roy and Andre. Celestial and Roy are newlyweds and epitomise the American Dream, with both of them having promising careers. However, the happiness doesn’t last for long when Roy is arrested and jailed for 12 years for a crime he didn’t commit. Celestial, devastated by the situation, finds solace in Roy’s friend, Andre. Not long after this, Roy is released from prison and returns home.

The story plays out in the third person and then in a series of letters  (first person narrative) sent between the pair throughout the years Roy is imprisoned. Each chapter is from a different protagonist and shares the experience through their eyes. It is an unforgettable story and so cleverly written. I found it hard to support a single character as all of their stories deserved a level of sympathy and feeling. The emotions running throughout the book are so intense that you get sucked into them without a second thought.

As someone who watches programmes on TV about wrongful convictions, I felt the story reflected the struggles of so many convicted of crimes they didn’t commit. Tayari Jones really captured the essence of life’s injustices and the reality of some people’s lives. It was so moving and really worth a read.