Book Review

An American Marriage


My book group will be discussing An American Marriage in December, so I read it now – listened to it, actually – to get a leg up on a time of year when I’ll be immersed in my own writing and less able to read anything deep.

An American Marriage is deep.  The premise is of a marriage that is rocked when the male half is sent to prison – for a long time – for a crime he didn’t commit.  The fact that this man is African-American, that the victim saw black without features, that the judge was more concerned with wrapping up the trial than finding a just verdict, adds light to NFL players taking a knee in protest of a faulty criminal justice system.

But this book isn’t about politics.  It is about love and the things that test its strength.  Yes, it’s about injustice.  But is it quintessentially black?  No.  I kept thinking that the events and emotions described could as easily have had to do with any minority as with a black one, and while wrongful imprisonment is a major theme, economic disparity is another.

I wish I had read this book in print.  If so, I might have given it five stars, rather than four.  The audiobook had two readers, female and male for those different POVs, but neither one gave the main character, Celestial, the strength I felt she warranted.  Actually, most of the characters sounded weak in this audio version.  Had I read this book in print, I’d have imbued them with strength.  Because I did hear that in my mind.  It was the point of hope in An American Marriage.  It was what made this book both tragic and uplifting, certainly worth the read.

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