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An American Marriage


A masterpiece of storytelling, and a 2018 Oprah's Book Club Selection.
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Discuss An American Marriage by Tayari Jones:
Overall, what did you think of An American Marriage? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

Created: 04/09/19

Replies: 28

Posted Apr. 09, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 1973

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Overall, what did you think of An American Marriage? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

Overall, what did you think of An American Marriage? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)


Posted Apr. 14, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Suzanne

Join Date: 04/21/11

Posts: 265

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RE: Overall, what did you think of An American Marriage? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I liked the book. I felt the characters were easy to understand. I did have a problem with Celestial's shop, feeling it was somewhat a fantasy, that the author stretched the probability of success with the type of inventory. But then, that may be my lack of knowledge in this field. . . .


Posted Apr. 14, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
peggyt

Join Date: 08/10/17

Posts: 97

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RE: Overall, what did you think of An American Marriage? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I was a bit reluctant to read this book at first because I thought it would be so sad. It is a bit sad and disturbing but the ending, although not exactly happy, turned out to be what was best for them both.
The book was very well written and when I did get started on it, I could not stop. I’m going to recommend it to everyone.


Posted Apr. 14, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
melanieb

Join Date: 08/30/14

Posts: 157

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RE: Overall, what did you think of An American Marriage? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I was surprised that I liked the story although I had some issues with the main characters and their motivations. The author presented a well-developed storyline and the outcomes were realistic. I would recommend this book.


Posted Apr. 14, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
christine

Join Date: 05/30/11

Posts: 5

RE: Overall, what did you think of An American Marriage? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I absolutely LOVED this book. I don’t think that I have read very many books where I found so much beauty and control of the English language AND dialect. I found sentences that were poetry and read and reread them again before continuing. It is a book that I think would be an excellent choice for required reading in class, as discussions could be varied with “would of, should of, could ofs.” It had sooo much emotional depth. I felt that the ending was the way it needed to end. Maybe not the way you thought it would end, but even better because it’s the way it had to end.
I’m glad that I received this book through Bookbrowse, because maybe I wouldn’t have picked it out for myself. I can’t wait to see the film of An American Marriage. When Oprah read this book, she must have loved it too!
PS: I have recommended this book to two people so far and they raved!


Posted Apr. 15, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Marcia S

Join Date: 02/08/16

Posts: 235

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RE: Overall, what did you think of An American Marriage? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I loved the book— it is a five star read! Roy was so well portrayed and your heart went out to him. The author told the story so well and kept me reading. It was such a different story line, which I liked. I want our book discussion group to read this as I think there is much to talk about.


Posted Apr. 15, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
SusanC.

Join Date: 03/25/13

Posts: 28

RE: Overall, what did you think of An American Marriage? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I really loved the concept of this book. No I didn't like all of the characters but I wasn't supposed to like them all. That is what makes for great character development. I think the title speaks for itself. This is an American Marriage for a particular population of Americans. I loved that you don't know the race of the accuser and I also thought it was interesting that we meet Roy's "birth father" and that he becomes a seminal character.


Posted Apr. 15, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Auntie Mame

Join Date: 04/21/11

Posts: 26

RE: Overall, what did you think of An American Marriage? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I too loved this book once I started it I couldn't put it down. I'm recommending it to my book club. it was so well written and although the writer moved back and forth between the characters it was easy to follow and had a good flow.

I really was interested in these characters and truly cared what happened to them. I was satisfied by the ending. I look forward to reading more books by Ms. Jones. I have highly recommended it to other people.


Posted Apr. 15, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
janeb

Join Date: 10/09/18

Posts: 21

RE: Overall, what did you think of An American Marriage? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

This is a curious book lightly treading on a volatile issue. As we have seen in recent public events a woman accusing a man of rape doesn’t just get believed and he gets shipped off to jail. Who is the accuser, was there a rape kit, what made her story so believable? This book seemed like an outline and more was needed. Another example, Celestial tells Andre everything, he is her voice of reason, he accepts and counsels her.
Isn’t that intimacy? Why doesn’t Roy mind that? Lastly, I question the probability of Roy’s encounter in prison.


Posted Apr. 15, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
AmberH

Join Date: 05/09/18

Posts: 30

RE: Overall, what did you think of An American Marriage? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I really enjoyed this book! I honestly did not know the outcome until I got to the very end. The characters were well developed and the story was interesting. Several times, I wondered what I would do/think if I were in the same position.


Posted Apr. 15, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
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pauj

Join Date: 04/26/14

Posts: 37

RE: Overall, what did you think of An American Marriage? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I liked the book, but I felt the characters could have been more developed. I would have liked to know more about them apart from their relationships with each other. I liked the prison description and the false accusation...a real problem.


Posted Apr. 17, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
susiej

Join Date: 10/15/14

Posts: 231

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RE: Overall, what did you think of An American Marriage? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I loved this book and like Marcia S says above I, too, thought it was a five star read. I cannot agree with PauJ in his evaluation of character development, however. For me the characters were alive and coming off the page - natural and realistic dialogue did a lot to make that happen. As I mentioned in answering another question, this is a book I passed up when it first came out, but when offered by BookBrowse I reconsidered and asked to read it. So glad I did - it became a favorite read for the year. It is so timely and addresses justice issues that exist in our country right now - it looks at marriage as it exists now in this country as well as in this specific situation - it looks at human nature realistically and honestly regardless of color. I think this is a wonderful book on so many levels - addressing so many issues - asking so many questions - and answering some, while leaving many up to the individual reader.


Posted Apr. 17, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
reene

Join Date: 02/18/15

Posts: 373

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RE: Overall, what did you think of An American Marriage? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I enjoyed the book and recommended it to my book club. I felt the characters and the plot were very well developed. There were some areas I felt were unrealistic, like the chances of Roy sharing a cell with his birth father and Celestial's doll company. I also felt the title was misleading. It made many feel they were going to be reading about a typical marriage, this was far from typical. Beyond that, there was a great deal to discuss in the novel.


Posted Apr. 17, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
marilynj

Join Date: 08/07/11

Posts: 54

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RE: Overall, what did you think of An American Marriage? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I'm not sure why (but I'll try) Oprah would have chosen this book. I didn't think it was up to par with her usual. It didn't seem to be developed as much as it could have been. Roy's reunion with his father in prison seemed a little unlikely and especially that his birth father turned out to be such a stand-up kinda guy. I thought in some places the writing was quite nice, but in others, not very good. I did like reading a book with contemporary, dialectic language. I also thought the characters were under-developed, especially Celestial and Andre. I think my favorite character was Roy's adopted father, the most likable, most endearing of all of them. And I very much liked Davina Hardrick, although she was disappointing when she became demanding. I thought she had offered freely then wanted more, even though Roy was truthful from the beginning.


Posted Apr. 18, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
ruthiea

Join Date: 02/03/14

Posts: 174

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RE: Overall, what did you think of An American Marriage? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I also avoided this book at first - I tend to avoid the bandwagon, especially when Oprah is driving it. I also reconsidered and decided to give it a try, and I am so glad I did! Although I had some small issues (mostly with Celestial's character and also her store) I found myself unable to put this novel down. I loved the writing, and how the author was able to make me change my viewpoint with almost every chapter! I liked meeting these very different characters and seeing how they viewed life, why they made the choices they did, how they loved and when (or if) they stood up for themselves and their self-protection.
All the characters were complicated, and except for Celestial, I really enjoyed who they were and why they were a part of the story. The characters were not perfect, most made both good and bad choices, but they were interesting!


Posted Apr. 20, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
jennie r

Join Date: 08/06/17

Posts: 17

RE: Overall, what did you think of An American Marriage? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I loved it! The characters were so vivid and real. Made up of good qualities and bad...with messy complicated lives. My favorite kind of read. Kudos to Tayari Jones.


Posted Apr. 20, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
nancyn

Join Date: 05/12/16

Posts: 25

RE: Overall, what did you think of An American Marriage? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

The novel was perfectly paced and I enjoyed the structure, especially the epistolary section. The characters are alive, genuine but flawed. It asks what do we want in a marriage? What makes it work? Can the single self be preserved in a marriage? In their situation, what would I do? It is a well written exam of marriage and also covers the themes of guilt, loss, friendship, families, race and class.
I had the opportunity to hear Tayari Jones speak and as a result, I have recommended An American Marriage and the author to many which include my two book clubs.


Posted Apr. 20, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
nancyn

Join Date: 05/12/16

Posts: 25

RE: Overall, what did you think of An American Marriage? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

Oh, I wanted to add that the cover of the book was superb! The tree cut at the base - so pictorial of Roy's battle with Old Hickey. And the reference of Celestial describing marriage: "Marriage is like grafting a limb onto a tree trunk. You have the limb, freshly sliced, dripping sap, and smelling of springtime, and then you have the mother tree stripped of her protective bark, gouged and ready to receive this new addition. Which of us was rootstock and which the grafted branch?"


Posted Apr. 21, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
GinH

Join Date: 06/17/13

Posts: 28

RE: Overall, what did you think of An American Marriage? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I avoided reading this book but am so glad I finally did. It was a real page-turner.


Posted Apr. 22, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
bettek

Join Date: 10/14/13

Posts: 6

RE: Overall, what did you think of An American Marriage? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

This is an extremely creative and expertly written book. The style is contemporary and fun to read. The ideas and plot contrivances are unusual and interesting. I haven’t really figured out why the author entitled it as she did,whether it implies that it could only happen here or that it’s typical of America. My take away was that the book addresses the different ways we love- parents and children, lovers, spouses, friends- and how each affects us. I have recommended this book to all my reader friend. Recently I saw that it was short listed for the National Book Award. It is hard not to come away with the feeling that our legal system is drastically flawed and some feelings that the present women’s movement needs some scrutiny.


Posted Apr. 22, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
kkb

Join Date: 04/22/19

Posts: 12

RE: Overall, what did you think of An American Marriage? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I felt this book lived up to its title, as it definitely showed regional biases and prejudices that we know still exist in America. I was a little apprehensive about reading the book, with the subject matter being so timely, but the author did an excellent job of not dwelling on a drawn out court case (that has been done before in many other books) and the horrors of prison life. By having Roy recount episodes kind of as an aside, you get the feel of his prison life, but it is not in your face all the time. The book was more about Roy and Celestial's relationship before, during and after incarceration, and you were able to feel for both of them in how it all played out.


Posted Apr. 22, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
CCC

Join Date: 02/14/19

Posts: 1

RE: Overall, what did you think of An American Marriage? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

"An American Marriage" was interesting to read. The characters are developed and readers will definitely be able to relate to some or all of the characters in some way. Once you begin reading, it is difficult to put the book down.


Posted Apr. 23, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
marianned

Join Date: 07/02/15

Posts: 72

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RE: Overall, what did you think of An American Marriage? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I loved the book. Like others, I‘d been wanting to read this for awhile. I thought the characters were well developed, and the reader got a good picture of their relationships. We even got a decent picture of the minor characters. Before I read the book and only saw a summary, I wondered about the title. After reading it, the title is much clearer. So much about this marriage is “American.”


Posted Apr. 23, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
JillL

Join Date: 10/19/16

Posts: 18

RE: Overall, what did you think of An American Marriage? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I liked it, but I didn't. It was a well written book and I couldn't put it down, but I couldn't stand the characters. It was very thought provoking. I would not have read this book, or finished it if I'd started if it wasn't a book club book.


Posted Apr. 25, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
poniesnpearls

Join Date: 06/28/11

Posts: 37

RE: Overall, what did you think of An American Marriage? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

Well-written, well-developed characters, kept my interest. I just finished another book (non-fiction) about wrongly convicted people, so this resonated with me. The impact on family, friends and the innocent person and the complicated justice system that sometimes prevents the truth from taking precedence over process. Overall, I liked the book.


Posted May. 18, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
lilliantpr

Join Date: 01/23/12

Posts: 42

RE: Overall, what did you think of An American Marriage? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I enjoyed this book very much and I thank BookBrowse for this opportunity. Once I started it, it was easy for me to continue.

I loved that the chapters were divided by the three main characters, presenting their points of view. It gave the story a much better perspective of what was going on in their minds. It’s as if each character is pleading a case, and the reader must pick a side.

One of the most compelling chapters of the book consists of moving letters. We witness how Roy and Celestial's relationship crumbles apart. And we feel for our characters as reality sets in their new lives.

Every single theme that the author presented is the true American reality! “An American Marriage” is a novel about racism, love and friendship, the trials and tribulations of marriage and the ramifications of the choices we make and those that are made for you.

I would highly recommend this novel to all, but more for Book Clubs. There can be hours of discussion here.

Rating: 4.00****

Great job Ms. Jones!


Posted May. 25, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
scottishrose

Join Date: 07/24/11

Posts: 59

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RE: Overall, what did you think of An American Marriage? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I liked the book and felt that it had an interesting story to tell for a couple of reasons. First, in regard to relationships and how situations can change them. Second, I know black people that have been pulled over by the police simply because of the color of their skin. This made the story more real for me, even though it is sometimes hard for someone who is white to understand how that could possibly happen.


Posted Jun. 13, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
annl

Join Date: 04/03/17

Posts: 36

RE: Overall, what did you think of An American Marriage? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I thought it was a great read, Original and would recommend.


Posted Jun. 23, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
shirleyf

Join Date: 04/25/11

Posts: 43

RE: Overall, what did you think of An American Marriage? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I really did not want to read this book because I thought that it would be another book about oppressed black people. I picked it up because I had read another book by the author that I thought was well written and thoughtful.
I give this book 5 stars because of the different slant on the issue of American Marriages - she dealt with the issues present in all marriages and added the racial bias/prejudice into the mix. These were not poor oppressed black people but educated young professionals finding their way through contemporary society with the same ambitions and promises that make our country grow. They fell in love, married and respected their upbringing and their families. They had stability and history and loving families.
l went between listening to the book and reading it and my emotions ran the gamut from complacency to anger to sorrow at the circumstances described.


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