Nominated by:

The Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County, USA

Publisher of nominated edition:

HaperCollins, USA

No One is Coming to Save Us

Stephanie Powell Watts    

J Ferguson has returned home to Pinewood, North Carolina, to build his dream house and to pursue his high school sweetheart, Ava. But as he re-enters 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 been 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.

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. She was also a PEN/Hemingway finalist for her short-story collection We Are Taking Only What We Need.

(from publisher)

Librarian’s comments

This novel explores the constrictive norms of a small North Carolina town, scarred by a declining economy, and post – Jim Crow social forces. Our lead character JJ returns to Pinewood to reunite with a former love, Ava, only to discover the intricacies and endearing dysfunctions of Ava’s extended family. Powell Watts rewards the reader with a story filled with redemption of the resilient and courageous Eva, while provoking us to empathise with the socioeconomic and cultural forces that shape America today – all in a beautiful poetic writing style.

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