Well-written, multi-layered and thoughtful exploration of the price of wrongful imprisonment. And so much more. Awarded 4 stars on Goodreads.
This is one of those books that starts off unassuming, even a bit slow, but gathers momentum with each page. Near the end, you won’t be able to put it down, as you eagerly try to figure out how things can possibly be resolved. And once it’s over, you will feel so moved by the complexities, depth, and humanity of each character. No winners and no losers here.
Author Tayari Jones is portraying the impact a single wrongful conviction has on the wider community that surrounds each person sent to prison. And by doing so, in such a skillful way, she also illuminates the massive problem of mass incarceration currently warehousing so many men of color in the United States.
Roy Hamilton Jr. and his new wife Celestial are well-educated, ambitious, and just beginning to build a life together in Atlanta where all their dreams can come true. Until circumstances put Roy in the wrong place at the wrong time and he is unjustly convicted of a crime of violence and sentenced to 12 years in prison. What happens to Roy, Celestial, their families and friends during that enforced separation is the real meat of this novel and Jones makes it completely believable, sympathetic, and deeply human.
There are many deep human truths explored here. Because Jones, while managing to keep each character sympathetic, also reveals how and why love and good intentions can sometimes not be strong enough to overpower our all too human frailties. And sometimes, happy endings, don’t look exactly like we think they should.
Tayari Jones is a gifted writer with wonderful insight into the human condition. I did not know of her before this book, but will certainly now pick up her others to read. (So, thank you NPR and Oprah for bringing her to my attention.)