An Oprah Book Club pick - A well-educated couple, doing everything right, become victims of the criminal justice system. A story about racial injustice and the difference between the rich and the poor in this country.  An American Marriage by Tayari Jones  #fiction, #reading, #books-to-read, #books

An American Marriage

By Tayari Jones


Book Review:




Book Club Talking Points:

A story that touches on so many issues: domestic and alcoholic abuse, small-town prejudices, loneliness, extreme poverty and abandonment. But it also shows the value of an education, the resilience of youth and the power of hope and desire.


Book Club Talking Points:

A story that explores love and marriage especially when misfortune strikes. It shows that even the best of relationships are fragile and vulnerable when really tested and it's sometimes impossible to keep feelings from changing. Sadly love fades through no fault of our own.
Buy From Amazon.com

Publisher's Website

Author's Website

*Discussion Questions



1. The title of this novel is An American Marriage. Do you feel this title accurately represents the novel? Why or why not? And if you do nd the title appropriate, what about the story makes it particularly “American”?

2. The author wanted to write a book that took on some of the inequalities of mass incarceration and really have the issue resonate, even for readers who think, is couldn’t happen to me. Do you think she succeeded?

3. You may not have noticed that Tayari Jones does not specify the race of the woman who accuses Roy of rape. How did you picture this woman? What di erence does the race of this woman make in the way you under- stand the novel’s storyline?

4. Do you understand Celestial’s impulse to seek companionship and love with Andre in Roy’s absence, or do you think she should have stayed true to Roy no matter what?

5. There are two father gures in Roy’s life: Big Roy is the one who shep- herded him into adulthood and helped him grow into a responsible, capa- ble person, but Walter is the one who taught Roy how to survive. Do you

feel these men deserve equal credit? If not, which was the more important gure in Roy’s life and why? 6. After Roy is released from prison, Celestial eventually feels she must submit to Roy because he is still her husband. Do you think she should have given the marriage more of a chance, or did you root for her to stay with Andre?

7. Roy is hurt when Celestial, in discussing her career as an artist, doesn’t mention him or the role he played in giving her the encouragement and freedom to follow her dreams, but Walter argues that she is justi ed in her silence. Do you agree? Do you think her silence is due to shame, or is she just being practical in how she presents herself to advance her career?

8. It is obvious that Andre is di erent from Roy in many ways. Do you feel that ultimately he is a better match for Celestial? If so, why? Also, why do you think Celestial and Andre decide against formally marrying?

9. Do you think Andre strategized to get Celestial to fall in love with him, or did it happen naturally? Do you feel that it was a surprise to them that it happened after all those years? Do you predict that Celestial’s parents will come to accept Andre as her life partner?

10. You can feel Roy’s seething anger at the unfairness of what he’s had to endure in prison and then what he has to accept on being released. Because of that, did you feel as if his rage and violence were justi ed?

11. What are the lessons about wrongful imprisonment you are taking away from this novel? Does the novel make you want to do more to address the problem?

13. Were you surprised by the verdict in the Chase’s murder trial? What about by the ending of the novel? Do you agree with Tate’s final decision? Why or why not?

(Discussion Questions by Publisher)


Book Summary
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.

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.
Looking for more reading suggestions?
Visit Our Blog
Browse A Little
Sign Up For Our Free Newsletter