I had this title on my radar but didn’t sit down to read it until it became this month’s pick for my book club. My book club consists of women ranging in age from 50-something to late 20’s. Four of us are married, 3 of us have children, 1 is pregnant with her first child , one is recently engaged and one is single after a decade long relationship. Each of us will be coming at this from different vantage points in terms of marriage and relationships. I may add an addendum AFTER we meet because somehow I think that the discussion about this will be a lively one.
The core of the story is about the marriage of a southern black couple, Roy and Celestial. Roy was raised in a small town in Louisiana and was the first person in his family to go to college. Celestial grew up in Atlanta with a scientist father and a mother in academics. Roy is a little smooth and determined to be successful. Celestial is artistic, passionate and little impulsive. They meet in college through Celestial’s childhood friend, Andre, but don’t become romantically involved until several years later.
Told through three points of view (Roy, Celestial and Andre), Jones’ novel is an exploration of marriage and family relationships: What drives us to marry? What do we owe to ourselves and to each other? What are we willing to take on in the service of those relationships?
Here is where I have trouble reviewing any further. I didn’t read the book jacket or reviews for this book in-depth before I picked it up. My ignorance of the pivotal plot point that impacts these characters, I think, made for a better read so I’m not going to write about it here. For those of you who have read the book, please forgive me. I’m not trying to dismiss the significance of what happens. I just think that the impact is even more powerful when you don’t know what’s coming.
Read it, if you can, before you know much about it. Either way, it is a fantastic novel and Jones’ portrayal of the complexities of marriage is heartbreaking and very real.