There are times when books have the power to shake me. To jostle and stir things inside me in a way that continues long after I’ve closed the back cover.
Some books because they are poignant and lovely. Their beauty sharp, cutting my heart in a way that heals.
Some because they uncover truth at the heart of life and humanity. They remind me that I need to open my eyes.
Some offer insight into the brokenness of our culture, into the deep and systemic unfairness of life. They reveal to me how much more of myself I should be offering the world around me.
Some simply overwhelm me with the tenderness and grace the author shows for the fictional people she’s created, by proxy showing that tenderness to me, to all of us. They remind me that far too often, I love too little.
This is one of those rare books that does all of those things.
An American Marriage is devastating, powerful, heartbreaking, and beautiful. Jones illustrates the way hope and despair always live side by side, and she doesn’t reveal until the final pages which will get the last word in this story — which of course is only the last word for a time, the dialogue between the two will continue until the world ends.
This is a special book with a depth of human insight that doesn’t come along too often. Especially not paired with such remarkable writing, and believe me, the writing itself is a gift, powerful and delicate at the same time.
Each character Jones writes is vivid and real. Not a single one is a castoff or plot contrivance. They feel whole. Even now as I think back on the book I miss them, wish I could see more of their lives and offer to reveal some of my own. They made me angry and sad, they made me happy and proud. There were moments I felt like I couldn’t breathe, when I didn’t want to keep reading because I didn’t want to see their pain, and other moments I delighted in their joy. There were even times I wished I could enter the pages to offer them tenderness and understanding, but could only read on and hope they would offer those gifts to each other.
I’ve never read anything else by Tayari Jones before, but I can’t wait to find another story she’s offered up to a broken and beautiful world.
You should read this book.