The quietly devastating effects of mass incarceration hit one recently married couple hard in Tayari Jones’s moving new novel An American Marriage. Roy and Celestial are upwardly mobile Southerners considering expanding their family when Roy is arrested and imprisoned for a crime he did not commit. The rest of the novel explores the fallout, through letters and deftly-handled switches in points of view. Though it’s a heavy subject, Jones wields a light hand, imbuing Roy, Celestial and their friends and family with nuance and sympathy. What could have been an overwrought, didactic allegory about the prison industrial complex, is instead a subtle, powerful portrayal of ordinary Americans and the human costs of unjust systems.