6 Striking Quotes from AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE

February 21 2019
Share 6 Striking Quotes from AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE

My cousin, perhaps a bigger bookworm than I, his mere book pusher—once picked up an advanced reader’s copy of AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE from my shelf before I even had a chance to dig in. When he flipped to a random page, he was instantly taken with one sentence. One. “Love is the enemy of sound judgment, and occasionally this is in service of the good.” During conversations, he’d awaken from a googly-eyed trance to tell me he was still thinking about that one line. When I finally sat down and read AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE, I saw more of what he saw.

AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE centers on newlyweds Celestial and Roy, who are both young in age and mind. When Roy is falsely accused of a crime and sentenced to twelve years in prison, Celestial and Roy’s marriage is put to the ultimate test. But not all parties involved are willing to fight for the marriage and when Roy is exonerated after serving five years of his sentence, he returns to a marriage that’s crumbled beyond recognition. AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE is a portrait of marriage that’s at once brutally honest, yet not devoid of the romance we love to see in any book on the subject. Moving between three perspectives, Jones expertly portrays each character through an honest, sympathetic, and flawed lens. And while I saw the faults of each character (yes, fine, some more than others), I couldn’t say outright that I hated one or rooted for another. Ultimately, what I loved most about AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE is Jones’s use of language to gracefully move the reader through a complex and nuanced situation.

Many told me I’d breeze through this book and it’s certainly possible. AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE is fraught with tension, and while it isn’t a thriller, it’s definitely a page-turner. Taken with the quotable passages, I decided I would intentionally drink slowly. Along the way, I came across many passages in the book that really stayed with me. With no context needed, here are some of my favorites.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Off the Shelf (@offtheshelfofficial) on


“Memory is a queer creature, an eccentric curator.”

Page 28

“Love is the enemy of sound judgment, and occasionally this is in service of the good.”

Page 31

“There should be a word for this, the way it feels to steal something that’s already yours.”

Page 115



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Tolani Osan (@tolanihershelf) on


“It’s hard to mark time when your heart is a pinball in your chest.”

Page 232

“In the private library of my spirit, there is a dictionary of words that aren’t. On those pages is a mysterious character that conveys what it is to have no volition even when you do. On that same page it is explained how once or twice in your life you will find yourself bared, underneath the weight of a man, but a most ordinary word will save you.”

Page 247

“The vast generosity of women is a mysterious tunnel, and nobody knows where it leads.”

Page 299

An American Marriage
Tayari Jones

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo


Kristin Harmel’s 10 Favorite Books from the Past 10 Years

By Kristin Harmel | October 7, 2022

9 Characters Rebuilding Their Worlds for the Better

By Sarah Woodruff | January 6, 2022

11 Breathtaking Quotes in Literature That Will Inspire Your Writing

By Tolani Osan | November 15, 2019

11 Autumnal Book Covers to Fall in Love With

By Sarah Woodruff | October 3, 2019

The Best Books We’ve Read So Far This Year

By Off the Shelf Staff | May 16, 2019

6 Striking Quotes from AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE

By Tolani Osan | February 21, 2019


You must be logged in to add books to your shelf.

Please log in or sign up now.