An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

american_marriageAn American Marriage
By Tayari Jones
Publisher: Algonquin Books
ISBN: 9781616201340
Pages: 308
Genre: Contemporary

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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.


My Thoughts

Contemporaries are a real mixed bag for me. I tend to either love them or hate them. And for that reason, I pick them up a little less frequently than other genres. But when I do stumble upon those that manage to win me over, it is generally a very rewarding experience. However, with that said, my relationship with An American Marriage was a complicated one. For that reason, I am favoring brevity for this particular review.

The blurb is very sufficient so I am refraining from a recap.

Initially, I was drawn to An American Marriage with its alternating perspective narrative and promising synopsis. I welcomed the opportunity to explore this challenging story through both sides of the party. I anticipated an emotional journey that would leave me feeling better for having taken it. But it was not long before I found myself disenchanted. And being honest (I always am), I attribute this to my lack of interest in the main characters. Celestial disappointed me with her less than convincing commitment to the relationship, even in the early stages. My relationship with Roy was complicated. He often failed at times to solicit any real emotion from me as reader regardless of his hardships, yet I did want him to persevere.

The writing was fluid and enjoyable but never managed to successfully capture the full sincerity of the situation. This was a story I wanted to weep over. I wanted to feel the heartache of Celestial and Roy’s challenges and that just did not happen. While the narrative was clear and the story unfolded with ease, it simply failed to obtain the complexity and depth I craved from this scenario.

I respect Tayari Jones for tackling such pertinent and powerful themes, but in the end, I desired something more than I received. With protagonists (particularly Celestial) that felt one-dimensional at times and an unwavering pace, I found myself unable to fully appreciate An American Marriage in the sense that I felt I should have, but I was still compelled to see Roy’s story through to the end. I have no doubt this book will find a large audience, unfortunately, I am just not part of it.

*This book includes themes of rape, wrongful conviction, and incarceration.

tea cup

Serves well with your favorite rooibos blend.

Grab a Copy: Amazon.com  Book Depository

*Disclosure: I use affiliate links and may earn a small commission for purchases made through them. Click here for details.

Happy Reading,

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You Choose, I Read: The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed

28096541The Nowhere Girls
By Amy Reed
Publisher: Simon Pulse
ISBN: 9781481481731
Pages: 408
Genre: YA Contemporary/Feminism

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Three misfits come together to avenge the rape of a fellow classmate and in the process trigger a change in the misogynist culture at their high school transforming the lives of everyone around them in this searing and timely story.

Who are the Nowhere Girls?

They’re everygirl. But they start with just three:

Grace Salter is the new girl in town, whose family was run out of their former community after her southern Baptist preacher mom turned into a radical liberal after falling off a horse and bumping her head.

Rosina Suarez is the queer punk girl in a conservative Mexican immigrant family, who dreams of a life playing music instead of babysitting her gaggle of cousins and waitressing at her uncle’s restaurant.

Erin Delillo is obsessed with two things: marine biology and Star Trek: The Next Generation, but they aren’t enough to distract her from her suspicion that she may in fact be an android.

When Grace learns that Lucy Moynihan, the former occupant of her new home, was run out of town for having accused the popular guys at school of gang rape, she’s incensed that Lucy never had justice. For their own personal reasons, Rosina and Erin feel equally deeply about Lucy’s tragedy, so they form an anonymous group of girls at Prescott High to resist the sexist culture at their school, which includes boycotting sex of any kind with the male students.

Told in alternating perspectives, this groundbreaking novel is an indictment of rape culture and explores with bold honesty the deepest questions about teen girls and sexuality.


My Thoughts

I have so many! The Nowhere Girls was selected by LiaLost in a Story as part of my You Choose, I Read feature. And I have spent every day since I picked it up thanking my lucky stars that Lia’s selection was drawn! I devoured this book with my heart and soul! I want to sing its praise from the rooftop and quote about 50% of it (I have over 20 tabs in this book). Of course, I will try to leave most of the actual book for your own discovery, but I think you get the idea here. Books like this are the reason I read outside of my comfort zone!

*Trigger Warnings: Rape, sexual assault & violence.

The skinny..

This is the story of what happens when outcasted and fed up young girls decide they have had enough! When the rape of a fellow high school student is wrongfully swept under the rug, three young women decide it is time to set matters right and stand up against the misogynistic culture in their town and high school. What starts as an idea to lend support to fellow female students, quickly evolves into something much more empowering as The Nowhere Girls band together and find strength, a voice, and self-worth through one another and their common cause. (Feel free to read the synopsis for more details, but I cannot recommend exploring this one enough).

“So often, the key to survival is mutation, change, and most of the time that change is nothing more than an accident. Sometimes it’s the freaks of nature who end up being the strongest.”

What I appreciated..

  • Characters, characters, characters! This book is brimming with a diverse and beautiful cast of female protagonists that come from very different walks of life. And we are given a first-hand look into each through alternating point of views.
  • The varying cast allows a more in-depth exploration of family dynamics and struggles within the setting and how they impact each girls emotions and actions.
  • The author utilizes all cards fully exploring not only rape culture but many other relevant and heavy topics such as sexism, discrimination, victim blaming, the list goes on and on. She covers so much! And she does so while exploring the challenges young adult face in society and among each other as they mature and evolve.
  • This book continually provokes thought and solicits discussion.
  • This book’s message is important and needs to be heard. It is moving and empowering! And Reed’s writing is fluid and intelligent, delivering it with finesse and success.

“Silence does not mean yes. No can be thought and felt but never said. It can be screamed silently on the inside. It can be in the wordless stone of a clenched fist, fingernails digging into palms. Her lips sealed. Her eyes closed.”

Challenges some may encounter..

  • The author does not attempt to soften the content and themes contained within. So while I admired this, it is a graphic read that will not be for everyone. Please consider that before making your decision. I am always happy to answers any questions.
  • The ending while gratifying, felt slightly unrealistic.

The Nowhere Girls was an unexpected read that I feel better for having experienced. I learned more about myself during my time spent between its pages and feel that we all could. It doesn’t promise an easy feel-good read (nor should it), but it delivers something of incredible value during a time I feel it is most needed. I cannot recommend it enough. If you pick it up, drop me a line, I want to talk about this book!

tea cupPair with your favorite green tea blend because this one will have you thinking.

Grab a Copy: Amazon.com Book Depository

*Disclosure: I use affiliate links and may earn a small commission for purchases made through them. Click here for details.


Meet The Blogger Who Selected This Book

lia-profileLia @ Lost in a Story’s Bio

I’m Lia, I’m 21 and from the Netherlands. I blog on Lost In A Story about books and writing, which are two of my favourite things. I read a lot of YA and love books about feminism, which is why I picked The Nowhere Girls for Danielle. My hobbies include drawing and staring at the void called my laptop and letting it suck up all my time.

I picked The Nowhere Girls because it is such a powerful and empowering story about three girls coming together and fighting sexism. It features an amazing female friendship and diverse characters, and it’s beautifully written. I just adored it!

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Happy Reading,

Danielle ❤

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Moonrise by Sarah Crossan

33837404Moonrise 
By Sarah Crossan
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books
ISBN: 9781681193663
Pages: 400
Genre: YA Fiction/Poetry(Verse)

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From Carnegie Award-winning author Sarah Crossan comes a poignant and thought-provoking novel that explores life, death, love and forgiveness.

Seventeen-year-old Joe hasn’t seen his brother in ten years. Ed didn’t walk out on the family, not exactly. It’s something more brutal.

Ed’s locked up—on death row.

Now his execution date has been set, and the clock is ticking. Joe is determined to spend those last weeks with his brother, no matter what other people think … and no matter whether Ed committed the crime. But did he? And does it matter, in the end?

This poignant, timely, heartbreaking novel asks big questions: What value do you place on life? What can you forgive? And just how do you say goodbye?


My Thoughts

Have you ever read a book that you pick up and discover you are halfway through before you even manage to stop for a breather? Moonrise is one of those books. Told in verse over the course of 400 pages.

The skinny..

This is a story of life and loss. It follows the family of a convicted murderer sentenced to death and dares to ask, “What about them?” Pending the execution of his older brother Ed, Joe attempts to reconnect with him and use the time they have been given. He wants answers. He wants to understand if they even matter at this point. And more than anything, he wants more time.

“What can we forgive?
Anything.
If that’s what we choose.” 

What I appreciated..

  • A poignant tale that challenges the reader’s emotions.
  • The narrative provided in verse allows for easier processing of a difficult story.
  • A raw and honest approach that tackles flaws found within the judicial & criminal system and how they affect those of different social and economic standings.
  • The harsh reminder that there is and always will be more than one victim.
  • The nonlinear narration allows for a complete and personal encounter that successfully accomplishes the truth without the need to spoonfeed statistics or arguments. It’s just real and effective.

“Time travel me back.
Let me say good-bye again.
A minute more,
a moment,
a chance to see. . .” 

Challenges some may encounter..

  • This is an emotionally charged read that is not about feel-good moments and happy endings.
  • It will challenge many readers on their current opinions or thoughts.

Moonrise is an affecting look at difficult themes that remain ever relevant but often under-discussed. Evocative and fully immersive, it offers a stirring and unique approach to the subject that is not likely to be forgotten any time soon. I recommend setting aside an hour and reading this one straight through. I cried, a lot.

*I would like to thank Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books & Netgalley for this advanced copy. The above review is my own, unbiased and honest opinion.

tea cup

 

Pairs well with a nice cup of calming chamomile to cry into.

Grab a Copy: Amazon.com Book Depository

*Disclosure: I use affiliate links and may earn a small commission for purchases made through them. Click here for details.

Happy Reading,

Danielle ❤

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