An American Marriage

Once again, Barack Obama’s reading list has not disappointed! Tayari Jones’ unforgettable new novel is a powerful modern love story that will draw you in from the first page, and keep you enthralled until the last - actually, it’s an ideal choice for this time of year, as you’re heading into the Christmas/end-of-school-year madness. It’s easy to read, but full of substance.

Newlyweds Roy and Celestial are busy chasing their own version of the American Dream. Hardworking Roy has recently graduated from college and is climbing the corporate ladder as a marketing executive; as a young black male, his mother has breathed a sigh of relief that he’s made it this far without landing himself in prison. Celestial is an up-and-coming artist with talent, dedication and big dreams.

But then tragedy strikes and their lives are turned upside down by circumstances beyond their control. It’s a case of ‘wrong place, wrong time’, and suddenly Roy finds himself serving a 12-year prison sentence for a crime that Celestial knows he didn’t commit.

What follows is the heart-wrenching story of their relationship as they adjust to separate lives - his behind bars, while Celestial’s life moves forward - and as Celestial draws comfort from her childhood friend, Andre, who is also responsible for introducing Roy and Celestial back in their college days.

The characters are so authentic and so vividly portrayed that you feel you could reach out and touch them - and the way they’re developed so deeply requires amazing skill. A story of injustice, betrayal, loyalty and responsibility, this is a beautifully written book that really makes you question what it means to love someone. It’s much more than another story of racial prejudice in the Deep South - it’s a story that goes to the very heart of what it means to love, and to be loved.