No One Is Coming to Save Us

No One Is Coming to Save Us


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NAMED A BEST BOOK OF 2017 BY The Washington Post • Refinery29 • St. Louis Post-Dispatch • Bookpage 

NAMED ONE OF THE MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS OF 2017 BY Entertainment Weekly • Nylon • Elle • Redbook • W Magazine • The Chicago Review of Books

JJ Ferguson has returned home to Pinewood, North Carolina, to build his dream house and to pursue his high school sweetheart, Ava. But as he reenters his former world, where factories are in decline and the legacy of Jim Crow is still felt, he’s startled to find that the people he once knew and loved have changed just as much as he has. Ava is now married and desperate for a baby, though she can’t seem to carry one to term. Her husband, Henry, has grown distant, frustrated by the demise of the furniture industry, which has outsourced to China and stripped the area of jobs. Ava’s mother, Sylvia, caters to and meddles with the lives of those around her, trying to fill the void left by her absent son. And Don, Sylvia’s unworthy but charming husband, just won’t stop hanging around.

JJ’s return—and his plans to build a huge mansion overlooking Pinewood and woo Ava—not only unsettles their family, but stirs up the entire town. The ostentatious wealth that JJ has attained forces everyone to consider the cards they’ve been dealt, what more they want and deserve, and how they might go about getting it. Can they reorient their lives to align with their wishes rather than their current realities? Or are they all already resigned to the rhythms of the particular lives they lead?

No One Is Coming to Save Us is a revelatory debut from an insightful voice: with echoes of The Great Gatsby it is an arresting and powerful novel about an extended African American family and their colliding visions of the American Dream. In evocative prose, Stephanie Powell Watts has crafted a full and stunning portrait that combines a universally resonant story with an intimate glimpse into the hearts of one family.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781538412183
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 04/04/2017
Product dimensions: 6.50(w) x 6.10(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Stephanie Powell Watts is an associate professor of English at Lehigh University, and has won numerous awards, including a Whiting Award, a Pushcart Prize, the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence, and the Southern Women’s Writers Award for Emerging Writer of the Year. Her 2017 novel, No One is Coming to Save Us, was nominated for two NAACP Image Awards—Outstanding Literary Work of Fiction and Outstanding Literary Work by a Debut Author. She was also a PEN/Hemingway finalist for her short-story collection We Are Taking Only What We Need.

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No One Is Coming to Save Us 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous 10 months ago
AndrewReadsBooks More than 1 year ago
Stephanie Watts' novel "No One is Coming to Save Us" is a slow, tense exploration of autonomy and wealth in poor African American communities that builds to an explosive and satisfying conclusion. The story follows themes from the Great Gatsby, but is neither dependent nor derivative. In fact, I encourage readers not to attend to the Gatsby parallels until completing the book; if you're searching for a black version of the roaring 20's you'll be sorely disappointed. If you want a story about hope, faith, resilience, and family, then you've come to the right place. To do this book justice, I have to explain how I nearly failed to read this book to the end. Going into this book, I had low expectations. I'm not a big fan of the Great Gatsby, which seemed to be the selling point for the book. As the first few chapters unwound, I found myself frustrated with the writing. I found the characters frustrating (Henry, Mama Lora, Sylvia particularly so) and other characters underdeveloped (Ava, JJ). The chapters seemed unbalanced in length, going from 11 or 12 pages to 54 pages. And most of the early chapters are focused on exposition disguised as introspection; we see a lot of the character's reminiscing about their past without strong imagery, conflict or change. While this made some characters interesting (I liked really Sylvia's apparent realism in comparison to Ava), it felt like it was dragging. I seriously contemplated putting this book on the "did not finish" shelf. It might seem strange then that I give this book 4 stars. Let me explain. As the book progresses, the characters remain trapped by their inertia and inability to make real changes in their lives. As a reader, you feel their frustration acutely. The characters long for change, but the inertia dominates any steps they try to take and pushes them back into patterns of empty talk and meaningless insights. The inertia defines the community itself; every attempt at change brings more of the same, whether it's desegregation, death, or divorce. At long last, when all feels hopeless, they begin to turn to JJ, a practical and metaphorical savior for the family. JJ has seemingly escaped from the cycle, and he brings the promise of change to the novel. In a world of inertia, hopelessness, and poverty, JJ brings agency, hope, and wealth. He seems like a solution. But JJ is not a savior; he's a man who is himself lost in the world and trying to find a safe harbor in his old world. As the family both gravitates towards JJ and tries to constrain him, we see Ava begin to understand herself and her mother as dynamic characters no longer limited to repeating the past. Ultimately, tensions come to a head in a scene whose intensity was honestly unexpected. But what I truly appreciate about this story is that the climax doesn't tie things up nicely. The problems don't go just go away; nobody lives happily ever after. Yet the book is optimistic. As the characters take on agency in their own lives, they move towards a responsible and mature way of relating to one another. They redefine their cycles of interaction, the time spent circling in the beginning of the book pays off. While some of the epiphany feels a little too easy, the radical acceptance of autonomy and honesty by characters defined by pain is powerful. The transformation of Ava from passive participant to an active force for building her family and community is powerful. It's definitely worth taking the time to experience
Delphimo More than 1 year ago
Oh, the duty of reading a book that provides no joy or entertainment. That sad dilemma engulfs No One Is Coming to Save Us by Stephanie Powell Watts. I listened to the audio book as the reader attempted to alter her voice for different characters, but only succeeded in confusing this listener as to what was being said. Watts premise of the lives of African Americans in a small North Carolina community could have presented enlightenment, but only seemed to be whining. The men in the story showed weakness and lack of drive, and the women ruled the roost.