A modern fairytale with a twist

He did it on one knee.

One knee, with a nervous grin on his face and a velvet box in his shaking hands, asking you the Question of a Lifetime. You’d talked about this day but it was still a surprise and now you have planning to do, just the two of you. Or, as in “An American Marriage” by Tayari Jones, three…

The last time Roy Othaniel Hamilton enjoyed a truly happy evening was about a year-and-a-half after he married his wife, Celestial, the only woman (after his Mama) that he ever really loved. It’s true that they’d been arguing that night – they argued and made up, argued and made up a lot then – but things were going well. They’d even talked about having a baby on that last happy evening before the police broke down the door of their room at Piney Woods Motel and arrested Roy for a rape he didn’t commit.

His life was supposed to be with Celestial. He believed that all along.

They’d met in college: his buddy, Andre, was her best friend and Dre introduced them but Roy and Celestial didn’t click until years later. They met again, dated, and the rest was, well, not exactly smooth. He cheated on her a time or two. She’d freeze him out when she caught him, but she knew she was his woman.

Celestial also knew the man she married, and Roy wasn’t capable of raping some woman six years older than his own mother. But a jury wouldn’t believe her, wouldn’t believe him, would only believe an old woman who pointed a finger … and there you go: Roy ’s sentence was 12 years in a Louisiana penitentiary.

And, oh, they wrote letters, but they were apart longer than they weren’t and eventually, Celestial wanted to – needed to – move on. She found somebody else, somebody who was her future and her past, but she was still Roy ’s wife.

And when Roy got out of prison seven years early, he hoped to remind her of that fact.

There’s a reason that Oprah picked “An American Marriage” as one of her books. Yes, this novel is that good.

Really, though, author Tayari Jones tells a simple story of boy-meets-girl-marries-her. It’s a fairy tale, modernized; a romance with a twist: Roy idealizes his marriage, while Celestial is a realist. He’s your basic Nice Guy. She’s been raised to take care of herself and speak her mind. His memories differ quite a bit from hers, and seeing both sides through their eyes makes their story better. Add a situation that hints at the unimaginable, and some additional, sometimes irritating, characters with influence and you’ve got a book filled with a tale that’ll keep you dry-mouthed, page-turning, and right on the edge of hollering.

This is a novel that unabashedly plays with your senses of right and not-quite-right. It also plays with your emotions, if you’ve ever been in love – so have a handful of tissues nearby. “An American Marriage” could bring you to your knees.

More in Life

If you could turn back time, would you?

If you could, would you take it all back? Every misunderstanding, cross… Continue reading

While focusing on athletic endurance, this book also relates to everyday life

You need a shave. It’s been awhile and, though you’ve been grooming… Continue reading

Explores the Civil Rights Movement with Congressman John Lewis | Pierce County READS

Congressman Lewis of Georgia is one of the key figures of the Civil Rights Movement and the only remaining speaker alive from the Big Six Leaders that organized the 1963 March on Washington.

We often believe bad things only happen to others

It could never happen to you. Other people have problems. They don’t… Continue reading

Buckley Kiwanis names Students of the Month

For January, students from White River High School, Glacier Middle School and Carbonado Historical School District were chosen.

Local students named to WSU honor roll

Students from Black Diamond to Sumner found themselves on WSU’s President’s Honor Roll.

It may take time to sink into but ‘How to Stop Time’ is worth the read

The big hand is on the “12.” And the little hand is,… Continue reading

Breakfast for the Birds coming Feb. 21

Celebrate the coming of spring with breakfast, fun hats and Ciscoe Morris.

With help from ‘The Grumpy Gardener,’ you can prepare for spring | The Bookworm

Normally, you’d never allow it. Holes in your yard? No way! Trenches… Continue reading

How to keep The Courier-Herald visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections, and you might see less news. Here’s how you can fix that.

A small act of kindness can make a big impact | SoHaPP

Join SoHaPP’s book group this February to discuss “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio. Don’t have the book? Check it out at the Enumclaw Library or visit The Sequel.