Hello blog buddies! I’m back with an unpopular opinion on a book I recently attempted to read but stopped and DNF (did not finish). Let’s jump right into things.
“Marriage is between two people. There is no studio audience.”
As black people in America, our histories are complex, our present and future, bright and hopeful, but not without challenges. We still encounter situations were the color of our skin becomes the only thing people see and not the content of our character.
Roy and Celestial, a newlywed couple, are faced with a new set of circumstances when Roy is wrongfully accused of raping a woman, sentenced and imprisoned. Their relationship quickly begins to unravel.
As I kept reading, I could not understand the choices of the characters and that’s fine. But what bothered me the most is that Roy and Celestial start to feel like clichés and stereotypes of black people.
Yes they are young, but not teenagers. Their decision making feels confusing. How do we end up with Celestial having an affair with her best friend, who also happens to be her husband’s friend too? How does this happen if you love your husband and he’s innocent of what he’s been accused of?
I think I started to take her decisions personally as a married woman, as a black woman. Loyal love is an important aspect of marriage. No marriage is perfect but successful marriages and relationships in the black community aren’t always celebrated. Jones gives us glimpses into the varied relationships of the Roy and Celestial’s parents. I suppose I had unrealistic expectations. In light of what happens with Roy and Celestial, I could see how his imprisonment strained and taxed an already volatile relationship. This seems realistic and very relevant for the time period we live in. But I expected things would be different for them, that this wouldn’t break them, that they wouldn’t become another statistic, another stereotype. But as I kept reading, I just couldn’t keep going. After Roy gets released from prison, I am more than frustrated and hence my decision to DNF.
Celestial did experience some things in her past even after Roy’s imprisonment that very well could cause her to come undone. But I rolled my eyes countless times at the thought of her being such a talented woman who seems to not know anything about herself or the man she’s vowed to marry. In the book, there are women, girlfriends, who stuck to their boyfriends who were in jail. Was it convenient to start a relationship with Dre just because he’d always been there? I believe at one point Celestial’s dad calls her and Dre out about their relationship. Celestial mom says she raised her to follow her mind, but what is her mind? She felt all over the place and didn’t seem to grow or mature from the situation.
While there were so many who raved about this book, this has turned into a bit of a rant for me. While I appreciate a realistic depiction of a situation like Roy’s and Celestial’s, especially in a world where injustice abounds, I’d like to see, read and applaud the many who have not become another victim or statistic in the face of something like this.
Does a DNF count as a book read? After reading about half of this book, I could no longer stomach this story and didn’t want to find out what happens.
I remember Melanie (Grab the Lapels) mentioning how it was strange that the female narrator didn’t read Celestial’s letters instead of the man. I listened to the audiobook while following in the hard copy, that is until I stopped, and I thought that was weird too.
Have you read this? What were your thoughts?