Tag: Contemporary

Book Review: An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

An American Marriage
Author: Tayari Jones
Published: February 6, 2018
308 Pages

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: April 5-17, 2022
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars     

Book Description:

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.

This stirring love story is a profoundly insightful look into the hearts and minds of three people who are at once bound and separated by forces beyond their control. An American Marriage is a masterpiece of storytelling, an intimate look deep into the souls of people who must reckon with the past while moving forward—with hope and pain—into the future.

Jessica’s Review:

An American Marriage is a difficult novel to read and this is because Jones seems to have gotten everything in the story as realistic as it could be.  Married around 18 months, Roy is accused of assault and rape then sentenced to twelve years. And yes, Roy is in fact 100% innocent.  After five years served, Roy’s conviction is overturned and he will be coming home.  But things have changed. 

The novels capture many things including being torn between a spouse and parent, how little we may actually know about a spouse going into a marriage. Also brought out in the novel are race and class differences, and traditions.  Life was not perfect for Celestial and Roy and this accusation uproots and changes everything. At first they communicate via letter, but then things stop. Roy is stuck in the inside of prison while Celestial is still outside living life.  And that begins to center around her childhood friend Andre, who was also the best man in their wedding.

Most of the novel centers around this love triangle and what direction(s) it may go.   We never know what life will put us through, what may happen, and how we react. You will never know until you find yourself in a particular situation. 

This is a gritty and raw read, and I was not sure where the ending was going, but based on each character’s thoughts and actions, it seems like a realistic and authentic ending.  Whether you agree with what each of the three main characters did, the ending was satisfying and the novel keeps you thinking, whether you are happy with the endgame decisions or not of the characters.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Audiobook Review: It Will End Like This by Kyra Leigh

It Will End Like This
Author: Kyra Leigh
Published: January 4, 2022
Audiobook

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: March 30-April 4, 2022
Jessica’s Rating: 3.5 stars     

Book Description:

For fans of The Cheerleaders and Sadie comes a psychological thriller that reminds us that in real life, endings are rarely as neat as happily ever after. A contemporay take on the Lizzie Borden story that explores how grief can cut deep.

Charlotte lost her mother six months ago, and still no one will tell her exactly what happened the day she mysteriously died. They say her heart stopped, but Charlotte knows deep down that there’s more to the story.

The only person who gets it is Charlotte’s sister, Maddi. Maddi agrees—people’s hearts don’t just stop. There are too many questions left unanswered for the girls to move on.

But their father is moving on. With their mother’s personal assistant. And both girls are sure that she’s determined to take everything that’s theirs away for herself.

Now the only way to get their lives back is for Charlotte and Maddi to decide how this story ends, themselves.

Jessica’s Review:

It Will End Like This is a contemporary take on the Lizzie Borden case.  After unexpectedly losing their mother, Charlotte and Maddi are heavily grieving while their father has all but moved on… with their mother’s personal assistant.  The PA is also closer to their ages, so the sting is worse for the girls.

What follows is an extended story of unreliable narrators, mental illness, and grief. Over time the grief they are feeling encompasses everything. Our main narrator and focus of the story is Charlotte, but I wanted more of Maddi’s narration.  Their grief became too much of a focus and it made the story drag on.  It was just too excessive for me.  I think I was also really anticipating the ending since we (sort of) know what happens in the real case. I wanted to know how the author was going to reach that climax and the conclusion.  I listened to the audiobook and the last hour of the novel really picked up for me.  This is what kept me listening.  And then we have that ending!  That last hour is what redeemed the novel for me. 

I have always found the Lizzie Borden case intriguing and have read a few books on it. The fact that we won’t ever truly know what happened keeps the case alive to this day almost 130 years later.   Listening to this fictional tale made me want to read about the Borden case again: And I might just do that!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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Book Review: The Marriage by K.L. Slater

The Marriage
Author:
K.L. Slater

Audiobook

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: April 5-11, 2022
Jessica’s Rating: 2 stars

Book Description:

Ten years ago he killed my son. Today I married him.

Ten years ago my darling son Jesse was murdered and our perfect family was destroyed. My strong, handsome boy, so full of life, became a memory, a photo I carried with me everywhere.

But today I’m finally close to finding happiness again. My ash-blonde hair has been curled into ringlets. Carefully placed white flowers frame my delicate features. The small, drab chapel has been prettied up with white satin, and there are tiny red hearts scattered on the small table where I will soon sign the register with my new husband.

The man who killed my son.

My friends and family can’t understand it. My neighbours whisper in the street whenever I walk past. How can I love a man like Tom?

They don’t really know me at all…

Jessica’s Review:

The first line of the book description of The Marriage had me just having to read it! I was anticipating a thriller, and the book is even described as one, but for me it was more contemporary, and not a thriller.  The book is just unbelievable, how could a mother marry the man who killed her son?  And the killer was even Jesse’s best friend growing up… So this makes the killer, Tom, the same age as Jesse. How can you marry a man who would be the same age as your son?

There was just so much implausibility that I had to suspend reality as I listened to the audiobook.  And everyone has secrets in this novel and a lot is not what it seems.  It seems like every character had ulterior motives.  The author tried to go with a big twist, but it was also unbelievable for me and came off as a grab for the reader’s attention. 

Overall, this one was a disappointment. I would try another of Slater’s novels to see if it is a better read for me.  But I won’t be in a hurry to read another of hers. 

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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