An American Marriage – Review

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?

9 thoughts on “An American Marriage – Review

  1. Grab the Lapels says:

    I thought the way Celestial’s and Roy’s feelings were all over the place fit the people they were. Dre and Celestial had been in love for so long, but never made it happen because they grew up like siblings. Perhaps it was “too familiar.” Roy was already cheating on Celestial before they were married, and she had some emotional issues with pregnancies in the past that were terminated for different reasons. I think that when people love each other for so long, like Dre and Celestial did, it can be hard to see what could possibly look like with other people. I’ve seen that scenario — someone deeply in love, it doesn’t work out, they think they can NEVER love again because such love doesn’t exist more than once — and just ruin their own lives through misery. I guess the story was complicated and messy, and I liked the way the ending worked out. I absolutely cannot speak to what it’s like to live in America as a black person, but I felt like they weren’t stereotypes, until Roy landed in prison, and he laments becoming a stat. Celestial was like no one I’ve ever met before. I’m so pleased I got read your opinion to compare it to my own. Thanks for that, Shell!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Laila@BigReadingLife says:

    I thought that Roy and Celestial just didn’t have enough time to solidify their marriage before this horrific thing happened to them. Perhaps they were too young, or didn’t really know each other all enough to really be well-suites for one another. I kept thinking, what would I have done? (I was older and I’d known my husband for two years before we even started dating, then dated for two years before marriage, so it was different.) I can see both outcomes, how someone might realize that’s it’s all too much for her to bear and alternately how someone would never ever give up on their marriage. I really loved this book but I appreciated reading your opinion, and good for you for the DNF when a book just isn’t working for you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • booksbythecup says:

      Sorry I am just catching up over here. I suppose that’s one issue I had with the book. In today’s society, relationships, especially marriage, are entered into prematurely and discarded like old socks. Even though Roy and Celestial were young, they rushed ahead without considering how their past and current issues would impact them. I don’t want to get on a soapbox again but it just felt like a slap on the face to me personally and then turned into a reality show soap opera field day.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Mel says:

    Great review! I’ve been seeing this book everywhere and the only reason I haven’t read it is the long TBR already (though that’s all of us), but from your review I think I’d have the same frustrations. And a DNF definitely counts as a read in my opinion – you engaged in the book and its characters, and just didn’t like it enough to finish.

    Liked by 1 person

    • booksbythecup says:

      Thank you so much! I seem to be one of few people who didn’t enjoy this one, even to the point I couldn’t bring myself to keep reading. I will say I’m glad I didn’t buy this and picked it up at my library because I could return it.

      I’d like to get a better sense of when to DNF versus reading the whole book. As you said, our TBRs are long so it would allow me to get to many of the books I have or want to read. Do you typically DNF?

      Like

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