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An American marriage
2018
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AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE, by Tayari Jones. (Algonquin, $16.95.) The lives of a young black couple in Atlanta are thrown into chaos after the husband, Roy, is imprisoned for a crime he didn't commit. As the couple grapple with their grief, they must also confront the failed hopes of a marriage and romantic love. The grave miscarriage of justice forms the core of Jones's deeply compassionate and heartbreaking novel. HOW DEMOCRACIES DIE, by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt. (Broadway, $15.) Think beyond the coups d'état: The backslide from democracy into autocracy can be brought about by elected officials who upend the processes that empowered them. The authors, political scientists at Harvard, describe four criteria to identify authoritarian leaders. Donald Trump has met all of them. GRIST MILL ROAD, by Christopher J. Yates. (Picador, $18.) A gruesome act of violence connects three teenagers, who stay linked to one another for the rest of their lives. As more is revealed about the crime, this thriller raises questions of guilt, culpability and forgiveness. As our reviewer, Sarah Lyall, put it, "You have to work hard to follow the winding road Yates sends us down, and the drive is full of pleasantly unpleasant surprises." NO TIME TO SPARE: Thinking About What Matters, by Ursula K. Le Guin. (Mariner, $14.99.) Long revered as a master of fantasy writing, Le Guin turned to blogging late in life, writing about everything from feminism to aging to breakfast. This collection brings together some of her best blog posts. There's a lot that will delight fans of Le Guin, who died last year: "The pages sparkle with lines that make a reader glance up, searching for an available ear with which to share them," our reviewer, Melissa Febos, wrote. TEXT ME WHEN YOU GET HOME: The Evolution and Triumph of Modern Female Friendship, by Kayleen Schaefer. (Dutton, $16.) For generations, the importance of these relationships has been played down, taking a back seat to romantic partnerships and family bonds. Drawing on the evolution of female friendships in popular culture and her own experiences, Schaefer puts camaraderie among women on a pedestal. THE GHOST NOTEBOOKS, by Ben Dolnick. (Vintage, $16.) Facing career burnout and a stalled relationship, a young couple leave New York City for Hibernia, a tiny town upstate. As they settle into their new home, a historic house with a secret dark past, their romance becomes a ghost story: The relationship soon begins to unravel, and it's not clear whether psychosis or malevolent spiritual forces are to blame.

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Jones (Silver Sparrow) lays bare the devastating effects of wrongful imprisonment in this piercing tale of an unspooling marriage. Roy, an ambitious corporate executive, and Celestial, a talented artist and the daughter of a self-made millionaire, struggle to maintain their fledgling union when Roy is sentenced to 12 years in prison on a rape charge he is adamant is false. Before Roy's arrest, the narrative toggles between his and Celestial's perspectives; it takes an epistolary form during his imprisonment that affectingly depicts their heartbreaking descent into anger, confusion, and loneliness. When Roy is proven innocent and released seven years early, another narrator is introduced: Andre, Celestial's lifelong best friend who has become very close to her while Roy has been away. Jones maintains a brisk pace that injects real suspense into the principal characters' choices around fidelity, which are all fraught with guilt and suspicion, admirably refraining from tipping her hand toward one character's perspective. The dialogue-especially the letters between Roy and Celestial-are sometimes too heavily weighted by exposition, and the language slides toward melodrama. But the central conflict is masterfully executed: Jones uses her love triangle to explore simmering class tensions and reverberating racial injustice in the contemporary South, while also delivering a satisfying romantic drama. Agent: Jane Dystel, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
موجز
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.<br> <br> 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.
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