by Tayari Jones
Algonquin, 2018. 308 pages, General Fiction
Roy and Celestial are just learning to navigate life together as newlyweds when they are yanked from their bed and Roy is sentenced to prison for a violent crime he didn’t commit. Inevitably, life goes on, and this story recounts through their letters to one another the ways that distance and doubt attempt to complicate love’s hold. Celestial’s uncle works diligently to get Roy’s conviction overturned, but the two must decide if there’s still a place in their hearts for one another as their realities evolve and they face their unique circumstance.
This book is an intimate portrayal of the perils and pitfalls of modern romance under strained circumstances, and the compromises it takes to live a life committed to another person. Race, though not the focus of this book, cannot be ignored, and the story comments deftly on this topic, as well as gender roles, racial disparity, and American culture. Though their story is all at once hopeful and heartbreaking, I enjoyed the unique style of this book and getting to know Roy and Celestial through their letters to one another. I listened to the audiobook version of this title, where a male and female reader alternated narration. It was a unique, conversational format that matched the storytelling style of the book perfectly; I would highly recommend going that route.