V Read—An American Marriage

Here’s a book that really made us all think here at team VB. We had heard about it—who hadn’t?—through its endorsements by Oprah and President Obama and it then went on to win the Women’s Prize for Fiction. And now we know why.

Although this is a story that revolves around a terrible injustice it is essentially at its heart a story about a marriage as its title suggests. When middle class African-American couple Roy and Celestial’s world is turned upside down by a case of mistaken identity and a false imprisonment, everything changes. How this manifests over the ensuing years is relayed back and forth through their letters and their voices and then via a third party, Andre. The childhood friend who becomes more than just a friend. 

An American Marriage is about racial injustice within the legal system and it’s also about gender roles, but most importantly it is about the dynamics and intricacies of human relationships. You grow to admire Roy, Celestial and Andre in equal measure. There are no rights or wrongs in the end, just a poignant book about how best to navigate what life throws at you.

It is so cleverly written it gently draws you in. You don’t realise how invested you are in their lives until you cry at the end. It’s one of those books you read, you put down and then you think about and feel you have to talk about on reflection. We found ourselves discussing it by the kettle in between meetings. And that's what we loved about it most here.