One of my all-time favorite classics is “The Great Gatsby.” I’ve enjoyed reading it several times and will probably read it several more in my lifetime. So when I heard about “No One Is Coming To Save Us” by Stephanie Powell Watts I couldn’t resist.
Watts is taking on Gatsby through the voices of an African American family living in a small town in North Carolina. J.J. Ferguson left town as a very young and very poor man. He’s now returned seventeen years later as a very rich man with an agenda. He’s building his dream home on the top of the hill. And he’s coming for the love of his life, Ava, even though she’s married.
Sylvia is Ava’s mother. Sylvia’s been married to Don for forty years. Don’s a handsome, worthless cheat who Sylvia defiantly swears to hate, but secretly loves. Sylvia is one sad woman. She’s lost her son Devon to a tragic accident and is not recovering well. Who would?
Then there’s Henry, Ava’s loser husband. All Ava wants is a baby. Of course this is something she can’t seem to have. Henry is a beautiful man. But he’s such a loser… So when J.J. comes knocking Ava is tempted. How tempted?
I will say that I truly did not know what to expect with this story. And adding a black family to the mix caught me off guard. Actually, the story is almost entirely black characters. But it works. Watts is a wonderful writer. She manages to have me caring about these women right away. At one point Ava is thinking about men. “What she knew was she had no attraction for any man anymore. They were too much trouble, even for sex the trouble just wasn’t worth it. In fact the whole enterprise of romantic love was just too hard to be worth it. Her grandmother had told her more than once that the thing about men was once you learn them you won’t want them. ” Ava was just plain out tired of it all.
Told with humor and in several different points of view, “No One Is Coming To Save Us” is worthy of a lecture. The dialog is spot-on. I felt as if I was being let in on conversations. And I did not want them to end.
Stephanie Powell Watts
has been teaching creative writing at Lehigh University since 2004. She wrote most of this wonderful novel at the coffee house on campus. She has lived in the hills of North Carolina and understands the plight of the closing of the furniture factories and the lost jobs and empty parking lots. She knows of what she writes. I think it’s a grand novel.
My lovely finished hard cover came from Harper Collins Publishers in exchange for an honest review. I can’t thank them enough. We added this novel to the Critic’s Choice summer reading list at Artis-Naples because it is lecture worthy.