October 2018 Book Club Book: An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Discussion in 'TMB Book Club' started by Truman, Sep 30, 2018.

  1. Truman

    Truman Well-Known Member
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    Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together.
     
  2. Truman

    Truman Well-Known Member
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    Part One, Roy

    I like Roy. He's funny. His dad's hilarious. Lets see what he gets busted for.
     
  3. Truman

    Truman Well-Known Member
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    Part One, Celestial and Letters
    Goddam that was heartbreaking. Crazy Roy was locked up w his biological father. This is good writing. Cant blame either character for their actions and feelings. Not really a good guy or bad guy in this.

    Knocked out about 1/3rd. It's pretty good so far.
     
  4. The Blackfish

    The Blackfish The Fish in Black
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    I’m about 1/3 through as well

    FUCK. Getting falsely accused of rape, wrongly imprisoned and then your wife gets pregnant with the child you’ve always wanted and you {both} decide to terminate the pregnancy. That’s heartbreaking.

    I got a little annoyed with Roy in the letters, but I cannot even begin to begin to understand what he must be going through, much less get into his head, so it’s hard for me to judge him.

    About halfway through Andre’s first POV. Going to be gut wrenching when Roy finds out / gets out

    Really enjoying it so far.
     
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  5. Truman

    Truman Well-Known Member
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    Through Part 2

    I dont really have anything specific to say. For whatever reason, this book is hitting me in the feels. Maybe it's because I read either popcorn fiction or historical non fiction, but Ive been choked up a few times reading this book, which is rare. All the characters are well written and relatable.

    Will finish this book today.
     
  6. The Blackfish

    The Blackfish The Fish in Black
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    I will probably finish today as well. I started writing up some notes earlier and deleted them and decided I would come back later. Hitting me in the feels too. Tough book.
     
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  7. RegimentML

    RegimentML Eulalia
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    I'm about halfway through.

    It's a well-written book. I'm enjoying it, and I think the audiobook narrator is doing a good job of capturing Roy's humor, as well as the more emotional parts of the story. I wouldn't say I'm getting overly emotional about the story yet, but that may come later on. I just think it's well-executed and sort of a breath of fresh air, considering how it's radically different than what I typically read (genre fiction).
     
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  8. Truman

    Truman Well-Known Member
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    Part 3, the third Celestial Chapter
    Holy fuck I thought he was going to force himself on her. I would have been so bummed if he did it. Fist pumped when he backed off.
     
  9. The Blackfish

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    Same, wasn’t a big fan of him telling her that he could but he wouldn’t, but better than him forcing himself on her.
     
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  10. Truman

    Truman Well-Known Member
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    Finished 9.5/10

    As I said earlier, this book just hit me pretty hard for some reason. I thought the writing was great, the characters were well developed. I hated most of the decisions and actions all 3 of them made, but I could sympathize with why they did those things.

    I dont think Celestial was every truly in love w Roy. She kind of just got married because that's what youre supposed to do ect. Roy, while not a shit bag stepped out on her a few times and Andre was pretty much a huge pussy. He's the least relatable. I guess if youve been in love with a girl since you were kids... but not like that, man

    Loved Big Roy too.

    I listened to an interview w Tayari Jones. She said she's basically Celestial in her up bringing. Upper MIddle class, went to Spellman.ect. Said was reading a study about mass incarceration and how black men are falsely imprisoned at a much higher rate and all that horrible stuff that's common knowledge now.

    She said she couldnt really get the novel right, felt off. She was walking in a mall one day and heard a couple arguing with a line she put right in the book. The woman asking

    "Would you wait 7 years for me, Roy??"
    "This wouldnt happen to you"

    Then she realized she needed to write about a single incarceration instead of mass incarcerations. Also said she got that impetus from reading Ta-neshi Coates

    Anyway found all that pretty interesting.

    Loved this book. I think I just read it at the right time, and it really touched me. If this was a movie and I saw the trailer, Id probably have zero interest. If I saw the blurb for the book, Id probably think "oh that's interesting" and probably never read it.

    Thanks Book Club for forcing me to read a book I never would have read.
     
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  11. The Blackfish

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    I finished it as well and echo a lot of your thoughts

    The book was very raw and I had a hard time putting myself in the character shoes but I did find myself able to empathize with them (agree, to a lesser extent with Andre) while still thinking their actions were pretty dumb a lot of the time.

    I was worried the book was going to end up with Roy going back to prison, and I wouldn’t have been too surprised, considering how often people who get out of prison end up back in. Glad that didn’t happen though.

    I did think the epilogue may have wrapped everything up a little too neatly. Part 3 got pretty dark with Roy almost killing Andre and contemplating forcing himself on Celestial, then epilogue they’re like “getting married, having kid, pray for us! Sorry about almost killing Andre!” I know that’s an oversimplification but still. Very very small complaint that I’m probably wrong about, and even saying that I’m happy they got a happy(ish) ending.

    I have more thoughts I’ll probably type up later when I’m at my computer and not on my phone. 9/10
     
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  12. RegimentML

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    Finished. Liked it, though doesn't seem like I liked it as much as you all. I'd give it a 7.5/10 (i.e. very solid).

    I thought it was very well written. While throughout the book I found myself strongly disliking each of the characters at times, I think that was the whole point: they're supposed to be flawed, and they're supposed to be real. That makes it a much more interesting character study. But in that same vein, I had a similar thought about the final portion of the book where Roy verbally contemplates forcing himself on Celestial and beats the hell out of Andre, and then everything is smoothed over without too many hard feelings. That ... that just felt very unrealistic. But maybe for some people it's not? Idk.

    In the end, I thought it was a good character-driven story. It was fairly straight-forward (I kept waiting for a twist that never came) and easy to follow. Worth a read.
     
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  13. Tangman

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    Finished last night.

    Thought it was pretty dang good but I'm not quite at 9/10. Maybe 7.5-8/10 or so.

    Thought it was well-written and enjoyed the perspective format. I think I just had a hard time empathizing with the characters. To be fair, I don't have any idea what it's like to be wrongly convicted like Roy and I'm sure that might change my perspective. I just don't know that I'd be the guy who runs back to his wife after she didn't come see him for 2 years. I thought Celestial was a well-written character though I didn't think it was her place to inform Olive of Othaniel being there with Roy. Andre just kinda sucked as others pointed out. Big Roy was awesome.

    I would echo those who said they'd never read anything like this on their own. Glad that I did. Thanks also Truman for the author's anecdote.
     
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  14. rv12

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    8.5/10

    I really liked it, thought the characters were relatable and it was an interesting take on issues in our society. I will echo that the "I could take it if I wanted to" scene was bothersome and seemed out of place after everything else.

    I almost wish that the epilogue didn't exist and the question of whether they stayed together or not hung in the air. I feel like it could go either way without it.

    Big Roy was clear #1.
     
  15. BigRed

    BigRed Well-Known Member
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    Just finished reading it. I loved it and it is my favorite book to be realeased this year. I found the writing poetic and the story captivating. It lived up to the hype IMO
     
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