So you read Tayari Jones’ bestseller and loved it — now you’re on the hunt for books like An American Marriage? Welcome!
Recommending readalikes can be a tricky process, but as I said in the first post in this series, I enjoy the process of finding similar threads running through even books that appear different on the surface. Today’s pick is Tayari Jones’ An American Marriage, which I liked, but found very aggravating. Still, it highlights several timely issues such as wrongful imprisonment, Black love, betrayal, and motherhood.
Here’s my readalike criterion: Each book I recommend must have at least three strong similarities with the beloved title. For this post, I’ve chosen 9 books that center stories of women dealing with race, motherhood, love gone wrong, imprisonment, and other familial issues. These stories are beautifully written, immersive, and provocative.
9 Books Like An American Marriage
Here are 9 books like An American Marriage by Tayari Jones:
The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls
Community pillars Althea and her husband Proctor are in jail awaiting sentencing for defrauding the government and citizens of their town. After a major flood, Althea and Proctor ran charity fundraisers and then invested those funds in their restaurant. The story follows their sentencing and subsequent imprisonment, peeling back the couple’s history, as well as Althea’s strained relationship with her sisters. TW: One of the sisters has an eating disorder.
Whiskey and Ribbons
I loved this compulsively readable book about a woman who falls in love with her husband’s adopted brother after her husband’s death. Alternating between past and present, we see Eamon and Evi’s relationship before his murder, Eamon’s relationship with his adopted brother Dalton, and then Dalton and Evi’s budding relationship. Leesa Cross-Smith writes complex, delicate love stories, and creates characters that stay with you for a long time.
What’s Mine and Yours
I adore Naima Coster’s writing, and I’m slowly working my way through her recent release. This book follows two families, one Latin-American, and the other Black, as their kids fall in love in an integrated high school — and the ripple effects over the next twenty years. It’s so good so far!
I’m also currently reading this book by Tayari Jones. The plot is nothing like An American Marriage — it’s about two half sisters who aren’t supposed to know of each other, but whose lives collide — but it can fill the Tayari Jones shaped hole in your reading heart.
If You Leave Me
This was one of my favorite books of 2019! Set during the Korean Civil War, this breathtaking debut follows Haemi Lee, a girl forced by circumstances, to marry a more financially stable suitor over his younger, poorer cousin whom she loves. Add war, depression, four daughters, and you make an eye opening, engulfing and heartbreaking exploration of what love means, what war does and what womanhood can feel like.
Such a Fun Age
When a Black babysitter is falsely accused of kidnapping a white baby she’s watching, two women are drawn into a relationship that sheds light on issues of race and what it means to be a grown up. So many people have recommended this one to me, and it’s on my TBR!
Ask Again, Yes
Two rookie cops become friends, bonding both their families. But as with all family sagas, over the course of thirty years, their lives become entangled in love, tragedy, and forgiveness.
Brit Bennett’s debut is still one of my favorite books about friendship and motherhood, and how the absence of a mother can change a person’s life. This one has ill-fated love, motherhood, unraveling friendships, and family business rolled into one heartbreaking story.
The Kindest Lie
Would you believe me if I said I was also in the middle of this book? Yes, the audiobook. Ruth’s past life is brought to the fore during the Obama era, when her husband decides that he’s ready for them to have kids. The only problem is that she had a child, and left him when she was a teen. Eventually, Ruth returns home to try to fix things. Her life becomes entwined with a young white boy who is also looking for connection as Ruth unravels a family secret that will drastically change her life.
Your turn! Which books like An American Marriage would you recommend and why? I’d love to hear from you. Also, I would love your help with this series. Which middle-grade, chapter books, or picture books, or even YA books would you love readalikes for? Let me know!
I didn’t love An American Marriage. I think I felt that the wife didn’t really believe her husband and gave up on him too soon. I tried reading Such a Fun Age, but as soon as I got to the part where the mom character was being fat-shamed by her friends, I was out. Life is too short to put up with fat-phobia in my books. I wonder if people might like Americanah if they liked An American Marriage?
Afoma Umesi says
I really did not like Celeste at all! Her husband deserved better. And yes! Americanah is an excellent choice. I hesitate to recommend books when I’ve already shared readalikes for them as well in a different post, but that would work too. And so sorry you couldn’t get through Such a Fun Age! I can understand how that would be triggering.