An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

“How you feel love and understand love are two different things”

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

‘An American Marriage’ by Tyari Jones won 2019 Women’s Prize for Fiction. It’s been on my TBR since, and I was excited to get my hands on it. As soon as I started reading it, I found myself completely immersed in it. It’s the kind of book where it plays like a movie in your head, and you knit your own details and expressions as if, it was left as an opportunity for you.

It’s is a story of a young couple, Celestial and Roy, who has recently married and is currently living in Atlanta. We are introduced to Roy’s family and their relationship with Celestial. His family doesn’t like Celestial very much, especially Roy’s mother. The couple finds themselves in a heated argument soon, and the narrative is shifted from Roy to Celestial. I was very amazed by the narrative shift from Roy to Celestial as it lets the reader be in the shoes of both characters and make peace with their words and actions.

We are introduced to Andre, who is a childhood friend of Celestial and also a college friend of Roy. Slowly, we understand that Andre is much as the part of the narrative as Roy and Celestial. And the reader is put in the minds of all three based on the storyline. Soon, Roy finds himself amidst a court trial of rape given the circumstances, and is proven guilty for the charge. He is sentenced for twelve years in prison. The changing dynamic between Roy and Celestial during Roy’s imprisonment is very uncomfortable, Andre is the third wheel of the story, who takes the lead from time to time. How Roy and Celestial sustain their marriage is the main plot. Not everything is back and white, but why they do what they do is known by the reader, because of the shifting narrative from character to character.

I really enjoyed this shifting narrative, I wish to read more stories narrated this way. It not only gives the reader an opportunity to be patient with the characters and judge their morale closely, but also an insight into how the characters perceive each other. The great part about the shifting narrative was the point of shift. Because we hear the characters when we are deemed to judge them incorrectly, and someone else’s viewpoint could create bias. It allows the reader to know why they did what they did, without causing a turmoil in plot.

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