An American Marriage

This is the first book I read by the author Tayari Jones. I really like the book. In many places, it is very funny although the plot is about a terrible injustice done to the main character, Roy, who’s handsome, well educated, married. He’s wrongly accused of rape and is jailed for five years before his case is overturned in an appeal court. He comes out and tries to pick up his life from five years ago, but life has other plans for him.

What I like about the book:

  • At different places the book is very humorous. The author doesn’t even try to be funny but it comes out very funny.
  • It is a very sad plot, but it is very readable. The sadness doesn’t make the readers feel too miserable to continue.
  • I tried to get the quotes from the book–it’s an audible audio book and I had to listen while jotting it down. I have problem with one sentence: “A big picture mind can see that.” I listened to it three times and it is still what it is the first time. So I put it here, even though I think the sentence is a little off. LOL.

I am not talking bad about Eloe. Obviously there are worse native lands. A big picture mind can see that. For one thing, Eloe is in Louisiana, not a state brimming with opportunities, but it is located in America. If you are going to be black and struggling, the United States is probably the best place to do it.

We… the family of three. We lived in a sturdy brick house on a safe block. I had my own room, and when Big Roy built an extension, I had my own bathroom. When I outgrew my shoes, I never waited for new ones. While I have received financial aid, my parents did their part to send me to college. Still, the truth is that there’s nothing extra. If my childhood were sandwich, there would be no meat hanging off the bread.

Roy goes to see his step father Big Roy after he comes out of prison. His mother Olive died while he was in jail.

“Well…losing Olive left me with two options–learn to cook or starve to death.”
“You could marry somebody else.” I hardly get the words out, “it’s legal.”
“When I want somebody else, I’ll find somebody else.” Big Roy says,”but if all I want is a meal, then I’ll cook.”

Roy’s wife Celestial has reconnected with her childhood friend Andre when Roy is away. Andre goes to see his own estranged father for advice when Roy is set to come back. Andre’s father gives him some of his wisdom.

“You also want to know that there’s no happy ending for anyone. I miss your mother every day.”

“This is my fault. This will never have happened if you were trained under me. I would have taught you to stay clear of a snake pit like this. You should have the sense not to mess with that poor man’s wife, but who am I to judge?”

Andre drive to Louisiana to talk with Roy about their ongoing triangular relationship.

It is not very much a plan, but it is all I have. … Once I entered the interstate, I handle my vehicle as if I were handle my driver’s exam. The last thing I need is to attract police attention, especially in the back roads of Louisiana. If it could happen to Roy; it could happen to me. Besides my conspicuous skin, my car is a stunner. I am a humble man about most things. I care nothing for kicks, but I do like myself a fine vehicle.

Roy meets Celestial and tries to re-kindle their relationship.

“I don’t care what you did when I was gone. I only care about where our future is.”
“That’s not true. You do care. It matters. Everybody cares.”
“No.” I said. “I forgive you. I forgive you for everything.
“It’s not true.” She said.
“Please, let me forgive you.”

18 thoughts on “An American Marriage

  1. Sounds like a very interesting book. I think with the big picture sentence the author means someone with a mind that sees the big picture would know/understand that but they said it a little weirdly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I am surprised that it is such a readable book despite the dark and serious nature of the plot. As a minority (a minority writer especially), one has to consider how the majority can understand and be receptive. I bet the reality is more biting and the real language is more acerbic, but one has to consider how to do the circumlocution–a word I learned from you. LOL.

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      1. Lol glad you’re using the new words. Yeah, it’s definitely difficult to be relatable or even correctly understood when you’re a minority writer because some things we think are normal are actually very specific to us.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. That’s so true. I often find that one has to explain a lot of things just so that readers can have a basic grasp of what I am trying to convey. The specificity takes a lot to explain. LOL.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it is a pleasant read, not as dark as I anticipated before reading. It was on sale in Audible and you know me–can’t resist the temptation of a sale. I listened to it while doing chores and it is quite fun in different places. It is not so dark and depressing as the plot line suggests. It actually gives the warm and fluffy positive feeling of living a manageable life in a system that can bite you.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes, anybody who has ever been living in a disadvantageous position–woman, minority, rank and file employee–would know that one has to try to do all one can to make the best of the situation just to survive. Know oneself and know the situation one’s in and try to minimize delusion and try to manage life in the best way possible. LOL. It is easy said than done, but we have to try.

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