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No One Is Coming to Save Us

3.02  ·  Rating details ·  4,614 ratings  ·  748 reviews
The Great Gatsby brilliantly recast in the contemporary South: a powerful first novel about an extended African-American family and their colliding visions of the American Dream.

JJ Ferguson has returned home to Pinewood, North Carolina to build his dream home and to woo his high school sweetheart, Ava. But he finds that the people he once knew and loved have changed, just
Hardcover, 371 pages
Published April 4th 2017 by Ecco
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Julia At first, I wasn't sure what his role was in the novel. Then I thought he was symbolic for those who deserve a second chance. When Sylvia visited him,…moreAt first, I wasn't sure what his role was in the novel. Then I thought he was symbolic for those who deserve a second chance. When Sylvia visited him, I was struck by how he was so deeply touched that she went to visit him - he didn't know what to say. No one in his life had given him much attention and here's this woman he doesn't really know who visits him in prison. We all need love and support and Marcus is a reminder of that. (less)

Community Reviews

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3.02  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,614 ratings  ·  748 reviews

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Diane S ☔
Apr 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is blurbed as a new and updated Great Gatsby, but let me start by saying the links to that classic are tenuous at best, in my opinion virtually non existent. At first I was reading this and trying to find the connection, disappointed when I couldn't and then realized I was doing a huge disservice to this book, so I pit it aside for a night and the next day started it over, with no preconceived notions. What I found was a wonderful story in its own right.

A depressed, mostly black town in So
We believe despite all experience to the contrary in easy money and our own fortunes changing in an instant like the magician's card from the sleeve. If one quarter came miraculously from behind the ear, we would milk that ear for days for the rent money. We believe…We are full of the fevered hope of the newly come to Jesus. We can reinvent. We can survive. At least some of us think so. What choice do we have?

when this book was first offered to me and i read the beginning part of the synopsis:

Angela M
Aug 15, 2017 rated it liked it
It was a dilemma for me trying to decide if I wanted to read this book . On the one hand I'm not fond of remakes of classics; they are perfect as they are . (I've had a hard time with the Hogarth Shakespeare Series for the same reason.) But I have to admit that on the other hand, I was drawn to read this book because it was described as a modern day Great Gatsby, from an African American point of view. Since it is my favorite novel, my curiosity won over my bias of not wanting to read remakes. I ...more
♥ Sandi ❣
2.5 stars

This book did not hold my interest. I did not like any of the characters. I saw little to no resemblance to the classic The Great Gatsby. I was however able to make each characters association to this book title. They all had varying problems and were looking for a savior. I think the author did a good job of making you visualize her characters. You could even see them in their speech, although there were parts of this story that just did not make any sense. One conversation between Jay
Ron Charles
Mar 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
At a crucial moment in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel “The Great Gatsby,” when Nick says, “You can’t repeat the past,” Gatsby instantly disagrees: “ ‘Can’t repeat the past?’ he cried incredulously. ‘Why of course you can!’ ”

Whether you should is less clear. Various people — starting with Fitzgerald himself — have been borne back ceaselessly into the past, particularly by trying to repeat “The Great Gatsby.” Since it was published in 1925, the story has been adapted for radio and television,
Jennifer Blankfein
May 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Review now posted on

In a small town in North Carolina an African American family is reaching for the American Dream. Life is hard and full of disappointments as it seems like a black cloud is over them. Ava is desperate for a baby yet she battles infertility and secretly reaches out to an online community for support and advise. Her husband Henry is upset about the decline in the furniture industry where he works, is cheating on Ava and feels disappointed in
Jul 24, 2017 rated it liked it
3.5 stars rounded down for reasons that will become obvious later in this review. I picked this book up because it was the first pick by Sarah Jessica Parker who is the honorary/celebrity/book selector of the American Library Association's Book Club Central.
This is a good news/bad news book, I will start with the
1. Excellent character development. The characters were believable and jumped off the page. I was invested in them right from the start.
2. Great storytelling. The interconnec
May 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Enjoyable read but being compared to the Great Gatsby really isn't fair assessment. I would just forget the comparison and get to know the characters for who they are individually.
Jul 10, 2018 rated it it was ok
A retelling of the Great Gatsby? HAH!

The only reason I read this book was because the Great Gatsby is my all time favorite book. Any and all things alike I must devour. This book had nothing in common with the classic and to call it a retelling feels like false advertising. It's certainly a novel all on its own, but no need to try to compare it to something it could never be.

This takes place in Pinewood, NC. JJ Ferguson builds a mansion and wants so bad for Ava to be with him (these might be th
May 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
gosh... i found this one a bit of a slog. i wish the publisher had not decided to take the 'great gatsby recast' approach in marketing this book. i feel like that did a disservice to the story and the author... as well as messing with readers' expectations. (or, this particular reader, anyway.) having the gatsby comparison in my mind while reading was hugely distracting, and i truly don't know that this novel actually merits the comparison, beyond local boy makes good, returns home to try and wo ...more
Jun 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
I am so disappointed to give this book two stars as certain passages and dialogue were incredible.

However, the characters and plot were poorly developed. I had trouble following the story - mainly because there was WAY too much happening with scant development over the 300 pages. Plus, I don't think I've read a book with so many typos???

On a positive note - I liked Watt's voice. And the story had real potential. It could have benefitted from better editing.
I would rather read The Great Gatsby. This book did not hold my interest at all. Shame.
Jessica Woodbury
Oct 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars, rounded up. The Gatsby comparison seems to be sending readers all kinds of weird expectations around this book. So to start I feel it's noteworthy to say that the Gatsby reframing here is minimal, and you shouldn't spend much time thinking about it as you read. You should not look for plot similarities. You should just think to yourself that if you started with the idea of a Gatsby-esque story in a modern day setting, in a very different setting, with race as a central element, what w ...more
Dec 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Usually I am in the minority when I don't like a book but everyone else does. In this case, most people gave this book 2 or 3 stars. Shame, too many people bothered to unfairly look for comparison of the Great Gatsby! Don't bother, it will ruin your reading experience!
Instead treasure the rich descriptions, the flawed characters, full of hope but disappointments, the southern language, the stereotypes and some great quotes (I personally love "You get what you deserve") This is about an African-A
May 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
I've never read a book with so many typos. The comma placements may have been typos or may have been outright mistakes; either way, I was distracted. I wanted to love this book because it was hyped as the African American Gatsby, but that's an inaccurate assessment. The story itself was all over the place. Very disappointed.
Wow... You know what's missing from the blurb on the physical book???

The Great Gatsby brilliantly recast in the contemporary South: a powerful first novel about an extended African-American family and their colliding visions of the American Dream.
So it's without ANYTHING (besides a very brief mention of Jim Crow) to suggest the the African-American characters or Great Gatsby retelling.

So, like, the two major selling points?

It showed up and I read the blurb and was wondering why I would have
Jul 30, 2017 rated it liked it
Throughout my reading of Stephanie Powell Watts' No One Is Coming To Save Us, I felt myself wanting to connect with the characters, but never quite getting there. Part of that might have been because I was constantly paging back and forth trying to figure out who was connected to who and how and why it was important for the story. The book felt ambitious in its undertaking of several different relationships and themes, but I wish there had been a narrower focus to fully grapple with a few rather ...more
Travis Mulhauser
Apr 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 17
When you love somebody you decide what you can take and what will kill you and work backward from what will kill you. It’s as simple as that. At least this is what she told herself.


Was thrilled to interview Stephanie for two events in NC on her tour...this book is deeply felt and really, really wise. Tons of great lines and cutting dialogue that work like jabs... The Gatsby stuff is present but not overbearing or even that noticeable and there is certainly no prerequisite Gatsby knowledge ne
Jul 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
I've posted a lot of quotes from this as I've been reading it and I could go back and do it again, find more, share some more of my highlights but I don't think I will. Ultimately, I thought the writing in this was completely entrancing: I love the turns of phrase, I love the imagery, I love how emotionally affecting it was.

This is not a very quick read. The pacing is slow and almost languid, but I found I wanted to read more and, for me, it encouraged me to take some time with the prose and fe
(Nearly 3.5) The residents of Pinewood, N.C., the primarily African-American community at the heart of Watts’s debut novel, know what it is to have deferred dreams dry up like Langston Hughes’ raisins in the sun. The book has a vibrant ensemble cast, starting with the plural first-person voice of the opening chapter. There’s an obsession here with progeny and property as two vital signs of success. The novel is infused with haunting lines about the persistence of the past and the danger of hope. ...more
Mar 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a heart wrenching book. Tears near the end. I had a little trouble with the way it was written, sentence structure wise, causing me to read some passages more than once to make sure I understood what was being conveyed. I do recommend this. I do and do not understand the comparisons to The Great Gatsby. Read and decide for yourself. If you like books about people and their flawed natures, as I do, you will like this.
Aug 19, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: authors-of-color
I'm not sure why this book was compared to The Great Gatsby. I'm not sure at all. Between the typos and the pages that just seemed to drag on, found it an absolute chore to get through this book. I'm glad it was a library book. I would have been mad if I'd spent money on this one.
Linda Boyd
Mar 23, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: audio-books
I’m not sure what I expected from this book, I didn’t read any reviews before reading it. There were some good parts that I enjoyed but not very many.
Mar 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
Unfortunately, I think it was a great disservice for the publishers to have billed this as a Great Gatsby reboot. That leads to certain expectations, and while this is a fine novel, it takes quite a stretch of the imagination to seriously contemplate this analogy. Set in the Carolina South, the story focuses on an African American family living in a depressed manufacturing town that has seen better days. Grief struck me as the central motif. The mother Sylvia has lost a son, the daughter Ava has ...more
Apr 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone interested in contemporary literary fiction
Recommended to Ms.pegasus by: selection of my local book club
Shelves: fiction
A young man named J.J. (Jay) returns to his home town having amassed considerable wealth during his years of travel. He is now building a mega-mansion on the hill overlooking the town. His hope is to rekindle the romance of his youth with Ava, now clinging to a precarious marriage with a philandering husband. Are you thinking The Great Gatsby yet?

Stephanie Powell Watts has inserted some ingenious interpolations and turned the story inside-out. First, she has added race. This is the story of two
Sarah Jessica Parker
The first ALA Book Club Central selection! Visit for more information.
I tried to read this when it first came out but gave it up because I was expecting a retelling of The Great Gatsby. Approaching it for the second time, I was more open-minded, and came to really love the elements that were borrowed from Gatsby and the way they were spun into their own story.
Jaclyn Crupi
Sep 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Tell me you've written the black Great Gatsby and I will read your book with relish. Sadly though I spent too much time reading this book looking for Gatsby links and allusions and not enough time enjoying the story and characters for what and who they were. So it became a complete distraction and a disservice to this book. It also confuses expectations and puts too much pressure on the novelist and perhaps also the reader. The plural narration was a lovely device and I loved the knowing tone. I ...more
Jan 19, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I’ll update with my thoughts after book club!
Maybe 2.5 stars? But I just had such a hard time connecting with any of these characters—something in the writing style held me at arms length throughout the entire book. Also, nothing much happens for most of this book! And with no connection to characters, this was kind of a slog. The only reason I finished was for book club, though I really should have just given up...
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Black Coffee: October '17: No One is Coming to Save Us 23 63 Nov 22, 2017 12:58PM  
Fourth Thursday B...: This topic has been closed to new comments. Book Selection for April 26, 2018 1 8 Aug 25, 2017 11:22AM  
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Stephanie Powell Watts won the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence for her debut story collection, We Are Taking Only What We Need (2012), also named one of 2013’s Best Summer Reads by O: The Oprah Magazine. Her short fiction has been included in two volumes of the Best New Stories from the South anthology and honored with a Pushcart Prize. Ms. Powell Watts’s stories explore the lives o ...more
“When you love somebody you decide what you can take and what will kill you and work backward from what will kill you.” 7 likes
“The sting of not having or not having enough bores a pain black hole that sucks all the other of life’s injuries into one sharp stinging gap that you don’t need a scientist to remind you may be bottomless.” 4 likes
More quotes…