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Summary

Oprah’s Book Club 2018 Selection

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 12 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. 

This stirring love story is a profoundly insightful look into the hearts and minds of three people who are at once bound and separated by forces beyond their control. An American Marriage is a masterpiece of storytelling, an intimate look deep into the souls of people who must reckon with the past while moving forward - with hope and pain - into the future. 

©2018 Tayari Jones (P)2018 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

Critic reviews

"Narrators Eisa Davis and Sean Crisden skillfully portray Celestial and Roy.... In Part One, the narrators read the couple's letters so intimately that the listener may feel like an intruder.... As every wedding vow is tested, the narrators breathe intensity into Jones's riveting prose." (AudioFile)  

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Fantastic Read!

An amazing tread of events with powerful emotions expressed on all levels. The Author’s description is very captivating. X

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Narrators are incredible

The narrators really bring this story to life. This book stands out for the character perspectives of black Americans and their feelings towards a system rigged against them in America. Really eye opening and riveting.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Love and the Self Destroyed by Incarceration

This novel is devastatingly good. While I agree with some reviews that point out there is very little exploration of the criminal justice system, it doesn't matter. This novel is just so good in terms of how of a townie / city girl and a rural boy fall in love; and how they deal with the fallout of wrongful imprisonment comes back to their background. One can never really run from where one came from, one doesn't really change what one was born to. Prison reveals Roy's essential self. A propensity for violence is controlled and hidden away but then peaks in an unexpected, devastating way. Celestial has the privilege of never being sure of who she is and what she wants. Roy's imprisonment conveniently helps her to drift away and to continue to drift. The narrators are amazing and able to capture the heartbreak, rage and quiet torment faced. Also, I liked how Atlanta was lovingly described.

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Touching

it is impossible not to love this book! Funny, sad, romantic and tragic. The vocal performances were exceptional!

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This was so good

And that is as understated as any understatement can go. Thank you to everyone that made this happen.

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  • Deb
  • Shropshire, England
  • 14-04-18

Excellent!

What made the experience of listening to An American Marriage (Oprah’s Book Club) the most enjoyable?

I loved the narrators voices - they were beautiful!

Any additional comments?

I enjoyed listening to this novel very much. The storyline was excellent and kept me hooked. But it was the narrators voices that stole the show for me. highly recomended.

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Altogether fantastic

Great story, narration is excellent . I really loved this and I’m definitely going to recommend it to my friends .

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easy read

I enjoyed An American Marriage very much - listened at every opportunity and finished all too soon!

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Unexpectedly touching.

The writer takes you through the journey of thier lives so convincingly that I was surprised at my own strength of emotion inner cheerleader in me near the end of the book. Definitely recommend.

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  • Yemisi
  • London, Barnet, United Kingdom
  • 06-03-18

Highly Recommended

Excellent story. The narrators made this especially enjoyable (loved the male narrator). My first book by this author but most certainly not the last!

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  • Lisa N. Haynes
  • 01-03-18

Loved the Story, but...

Any additional comments?

The book started slow and I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy it and that would have been a pity because I have enjoyed all of Tayari Jones' work. Fortunately, the story picked up and I did enjoy it. My only big criticism is with the narration. The male narrator's depiction of Celestial or the other female characters didn't work for me. I found myself wondering how it would have worked if Sean Crisden and Eisa Davis narrated those passages together.

34 of 36 people found this review helpful

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  • Mia Garret
  • 12-02-18

Unexpected

Shocking, beautiful, Human. This story rips apart fairytales and challenges what we believe is “real” between two people who decide to be married. I will probably listen again soon.

21 of 23 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Gran-Gran78
  • 12-02-18

All in One Day...

I listened to the entire book in one day...9 hours straight. I have never been captivated by a novel in my 40 years of life. I could see each word as they were narrated... especially Eisa's narration.
When the gentleman narrated the women's parts, it didn't feel as authentic, yet their performances were phenomenal. I want to thank my former school mate, Lashawnda, for recommending this read.

30 of 34 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Cindy Morris
  • 11-05-18

Unredeemable characters

I found the story to be slow, monotonous and repetitious. I lost interest in the characters because they were hopelessly flawed to the point that I stopped caring about what happened to them. The best parts of the book were the beginning and the ending. The middle could have used a lot of editing.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • NMwritergal
  • 11-02-18

Glad such a worthy author got the Oprah bump

I stumbled upon Jones' Silver Sparrow a few years ago and really liked it--more than this one, actually, though I did like this one. So often, really good authors (often authors of color) are totally overlooked, and you have to do a fair amount of hunting to find them amongst thousands upon thousands of books.

Jones managed to take really depressing and difficult subjects (the over incarceration of black men and wrongful conviction alongside the issues of marriage, children, fractured families, racism, and so on) and treat them in such a way that you get it--it's real--but you don't feel like opening a vein.

Roy was the most compelling and interesting character to me and the audio narrator bumped it up a notch. I wish there had been a different narrator for Celestial. While Davis was fine I was really craving Bahni Turpin, Angela Dawe, or Robin Miles, all of whom would have brought Celestial to life better.

Too often these days, authors write unlikable or really flawed narrators but write them in such a way that you can't relate, can't understand. In this novel, all three main characters are flawed (though nobody is downright unlikeable) yet you can still relate to each and understand why they are the way they are and do the things they do. That's no small feat to pull off.

I was rooting for all three main characters even though I couldn't imagine that it would turn out well for all of them!

17 of 19 people found this review helpful

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  • calvin
  • 10-02-18

Love Letters To Life and Beyond.

An American Marriage is much more then the title suggest. A beautiful layered story told in an exchange of Love Letters. The narration was outstanding and the concept made this book a page turner. Highly recommended!

40 of 46 people found this review helpful

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  • Jerry Washington
  • 23-03-18

You,Me & He!

at first I didn't like the book somehow I knew it was just another woman's book to empower women. so I have to put the book down and reread it go back over it but ultimately as I travel down the road I've discovered some interesting people along the way. by the time I got the chapter 3 that's when I knew that the book was going somewhere I even screamed out loud when it appears as though they were breaking up when she wrote that letter! I couldn't bear to read it any further. however I had to pick it up again after I read Oprah Winfrey review so I decided that I would give it another chance and from that point on I couldn't put the book down I finished it at 10:15 this morning and I regain hope in marriage. the book was excellent because it allow you to go through the valley through the dark side it allows you to travel down bad Street in southwest Atlanta allowed you to suffer with the characters in the book it even allows you to get to know them individually by name. Roy, celestial and Andre our household name of people that you know especially if you live in Atlanta. you will travel down Old National and Godby Road you will travel down Bankhead Highway you will travel somewhere between Childress Lynhurst and Cascade Road and you will eventually reach the Promised Land. the book is Worthy to be praised not because I said so but because I read it I struggled with it and I shed a tear because these characters I actually you and me and the people that we know and the secrets that they keep. the ending is absolutely magnificent and I recommend everybody to get to that point because I'm not going to give it away but I will say that it takes you somewhere and the ending is shocking and surprising the author is absolutely marvelous brilliant and superb! I am so exhausted I think I'm going to have me some lemonade tea.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 15-02-18

It was okay. Not what I expected.

The story was interesting but lack substance and depth. I kept thinking i missed something.

20 of 24 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 12-02-18

Truly enjoyed this book.

Loved the book. Male narrator was very good. Female needed more "personality." I enjoyed nonetheless.

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • story teller
  • 05-03-18

Enlightenment

When the Black lives matter phrase was tossed around a few years ago, I really didn’t understand. This book has given me an education and more than that , opened my eyes to see what a struggle it is to be a black man in the United States of America right now.

I enjoyed the narration and the storyline was well done.

16 of 20 people found this review helpful