This is a contemporary fiction that was pretty popular a couple of years ago. I believe it was an Oprah book club pick. It is set in the south, mostly between a town called Eloe in Louisiana and Atlanta, Georgia.
The story starts with Roy being convicted of something he didn’t do. While visiting his parents, he and his newlywedded wife, Celestial, are staying at a motel where an assault happens. The victim pins the crime on Roy, and he is convicted, sentenced to 12 years in jail. This conviction knocks Roy off the path he thought he was headed on – the good job, the house, starting a family.
During this time, Celestial is now the wife of a convict. She has to navigate the stigmas as well as find some path through the next 12 years. Their relationship suffers, and she turns to a friend, Andre, to lean on, which develops into something more.
I really didn’t like Andre’s character. I didn’t agree with a lot of the choices that were made in this book. They made me feel uncomfortable. Although, I also don’t know what it’s like to be falsely accused of a crime and have my whole life turned upside down. And having to make my relationship choices through that lens.
But I don’t know if the relationships were really the focus, but more so being true to who you are. Celestial, at the beginning, kind of just flows with whatever everyone wants her to be, and this story really follows her transformation. Roy also transforms through the time he was in jail. The story was very real and raw.
There is a lot of profanity. Sexual content includes abortions, descriptions of naked bodies, talk of rape, implications of sex, with one detailed sex scene. The violent content includes a fight scene, implications of suicides that happen in prison, as well as the assault/rape at the beginning of the book.
Overall, it’s about two people who faced an unjust justice system. But it was also about people who were growing up, figuring it out, and letting go to find their settled good. My favorite part of the story was Roy and his mother’s relationship, as well as the relationships of the older generation. Interesting read.