An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
In 10 words or less: Took my emotions and ran with them—loved it!
When I started reading this book, I had no idea what it was about. As I’ve started reading more, I’ve made a concerted effort not to read any summaries or detailed reviews before I finish the book. And, in full transparency, if I’d read the summary of AAM before I started, I likely would’ve put it down before starting (picking up a book about black men who are unfairly impacted by the justice system is sometimes too hard to do).
But this story is far beyond what I imagined.
- The writing is poetic. The way Jones crafts her story is so deeply intertwined with emotion, it pours from every single page in the book. She speaks to love, loss, marriage and death in a way I’ve never experienced and I could not get enough! One of my favorite lines in the book: “There should be a word for this, the way it feels to steal something that’s already yours.”
- The characters are complex. By telling this story through the lens of three key characters, Jones builds an intimacy between them and the reader. As a result, I came to passionately love and hate each of the three characters who contributed to this story. Because of this, I was so incredibly affected by what happens to and becomes of each character. I was connected in a way that pulled me in and made me want to close the book all at once.
- The story doesn’t have a neat ending—which I loved! Perhaps most strikingly, this story is messy, and so is the ending. I was struck by the prospect that the story ended in a way that many real-life stories may end. I felt almost haunted by the idea.
Beyond anything, this story is a conversation piece for sure. What transpires between the characters, the events that occur and what goes unsaid will draw vastly different opinions. Just know, this book will give you enough to keep the discussion going for hours. (Oprah’s book club discussion questions for AAM are also A1—check them out)!