Going into reading this book, I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I had heard about it on FB from multiple people that really liked it and highly recommended it. 

So, I took some time to research it and discovered that it was on Oprah’s Book Club List and that #ForeverPresident Barrack Obama had read it, so I thought… why not?

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones.


This book is about a married couple, Celestial and Roy. It shows the different dynamics within their marriage, the sacrifices of marriage, how others impacted their marriage, and what it truly means to love someone unconditionally.

The story starts with Roy and Celestial visiting Roy’s parents in Eloe, LA, which is Roy’s hometown. Roy’s mother asked the couple to stay at his childhood home, but Roy insisted that they go to a nearby hotel. Well, Celestial and Roy got into a heated argument, in which Roy decided to leave their room for a while to cool off. While he’s out, Roy runs into an older woman and they have a brief but pleasant conversation, then Roy returns back to his room to make up with Celestial. 

While sleeping, the FBI bursts in their hotel room and Roy was arrested and taken into custody, accused of rape by the older woman he spoke to earlier. It was definitely a case of mistaken identity, but still, he was convicted and sentenced anyway. He was to serve 12 years in prison. During that time, this book details what happened to Roy’s marriage, how he survived in prison, what happened to his wife, and parents. 

Real Life:

There are many triggering situations that happened in this book that parallels real life. One is the fact of mistaken identity. Roy was a black man that did “everything right” such as going to college, getting married, and have dreams of starting a family. However, his reality was altered b/c he was convicted of a rape that he didn’t commit. This, of course, set his life on a very different path than he expected. How many times have black men been accused of a crime when, in fact, they were never the true suspect?

Two, the relationship between the justice system, police, and black men. We know that black men and the police have never really coexisted peacefully. I mean, we see it every day from the excessive force and police brutality to the court system covering up and refusing to convict known killers. Either way, Roy’s life changed in that courtroom when he was convicted and sentenced to 12 years in prison. 

Lastly, the idea and reality of marriage are two different things. Roy and Celestial thought they had a “perfect marriage,” except they didn’t count on one thing… prison time. Their marriage was really tried during this time. Would Celestial remain faithful? Would time tear apart their marriage? Is there a marriage, in real life, that can withstand 12+ years of prison time? Is their marriage or their reality of marriage, what they originally thought it was going to be?

Recommendation:

Overall, this book definitely allowed me to see the difference between the idea of marriage and what it really means to love someone unconditionally. I mean, it’s really clear. I think what we have to realize is that marriage is the same concept it was designed to be, but people have morphed their idea of marriage into something totally different, which leads marriage to only be “a piece of paper” or lead to divorce so quickly when things get tough. 

Finally, I would definitely recommend this book! The writing style is good, as it kept me invested in the characters and wanting more. Sometimes, I will admit, the letters back and forth were a bit hard to follow in the manner they were presented. Still, as time passed, it definitely showed how communication is still very important in any relationship. Most importantly, one with being separated from your spouse for an extended period of time. Military wives know what that’s like as well. Other than that, the book was a great read and I encourage you to pick it up and see for yourself!

If you do decide to read it, let me know how you liked it. Comment below.