Tag Archives: Literary Fiction

Review: An American Marriage

An American Marriage

An American Marriage
By Tayari Jones
Algonquin Books, 9781616208684, 2019, 336pp.

The Short of It:

Not what I expected. Tense, but exhausting.

The Rest of It:

Roy and Celestial are newly married. Both, have promising careers on the verge of success but one night, Roy is falsely accused of rape and they are torn from one another. It doesn’t matter that his alibi is solid, he’s black and the woman accusing him of the crime is not backing down. Roy is sentenced to twelve years for a crime he did not commit. Celestial is left wondering how to navigate this kind of marriage. Is it a marriage? Can she commit to a marriage like this? One where your husband is behind bars for twelve years?

This was a difficult read for me. These characters flirt with virtue and then do the opposite, over and over again. Although I could see their logic and often their justification for their actions, I quickly grew tired of the push and pull.

Additionally, I really had a problem with how Celestial is made out to be a piece of property over and over again. It didn’t fit her personality as she is very strong-willed and independent. Perhaps that’s why it bothered me so much that the author even went there. There is an entire section of the book where she’s referred to as “my woman” and that just rubbed me the wrong way.

Is An American Marriage a good book for a club to discuss? I think there is plenty to discuss. Between the false accusations and imprisonment, what it means to be married, the issues centering around race and class, and the importance of family, a group would have plenty to chew on.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: Leave The World Behind

Leave The World Behind

Leave The World Behind 
By Rumaan Alam
Ecco, 9780062667632, October 2020, 256pp.

The Short of It:

This book left me unsettled and anxious but the story will stay with me for a very long time.

The Rest of It:

Amanda and Clay leave the city to rent a luxurious vacation home in Long Island. A week away with their two teenagers, simple meals, days spent swimming and lounging, is just what they need. An escape from city life sounds so perfect, even if only for a week.

The home is beautiful and private and as they fill the fridge with their own groceries and begin to fill the space with their own belongings, they begin to unwind and enjoy this brief respite. But then, they hear voices and shortly thereafter, there is a knock at the door. Who could be knocking at this late hour? Should they open it? Is it safe?

Ruth and G.H. Washington are at the door. They explain that something has happened in the city, a power outage and that they did what they felt was right, headed to their home in Long Island, yes the home Amanda and Clay are renting. You see, Ruth and G.H. are the owners.

Well folks, this presents all kinds of problems. It’s their home, so how can Amanda and Clay deny them access to their own home? Plus, Ruth and G.H. are older and it’s cold outside and a storm is on its way. How can they not let them in? But Amanda is concerned for their safety. Their kids are asleep and these people are strangers.

I want to be careful what I say here as I don’t want to give anything away but these two couples are put into a very difficult spot and they are tested in many ways. Their trust for one another, their lack of communication or real news (satellite, Wi-Fi and cell service is down), and yet their power remains. What has happened in the city? And then, something happens that forces them to consider that whatever has happened, is much bigger than a power outage.

Reading this book was stressful! There is an underlying current that runs through the book that keeps you on the edge of your seat. You can’t relax, yet you can’t put it down. You spend time with these people and get to know all their insecurities, their fears and in less than three hundred pages, a good sense for what makes them tick. As I was reading, I kept thinking about what I would do in that situation. When I turned the last page, I was at a loss for words. I had to buzz a friend who read it so we could discuss. It’s that kind of book. Plus, it’s a genre bender. Could be classified many different ways.

I will warn you, it’s gotten mixed reviews. Many readers hated it. Perhaps for the feeling it gave them or that the story is a little ambiguous. I, however, LOVED it. But I don’t rate books the same way most people do. I rate often for the experience. Did it take me away from my daily concerns? Yes. Was I riveted? Yes. Did I appreciate how the author told the story? Yes. So for me, it was a solid five stars and will be on my list of faves at the end of the year.

If you’ve read the book, check out this really interesting interview with Rhianna Walton for Powell’s.  If you haven’t read it, save it for later because there are spoilers. 

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.