No One Is Coming to Save Us by Stephanie Powell Watts [in Library Journal]
As Sarah Jessica Parker’s inaugural selection for the American Library Association’s Book Club Central, Stephanie Powell Watts’s (We Are Only Taking What We Need) first novel is getting well-earned attention. Initially inspired by The Great Gatsby, Watts wanted to give voice to the mostly silent African American characters in Fitzgerald’s privileged world.
Here, Jay becomes JJ, who’s returned to Pinewood, NC – a town crippled by factory closings – as a wealthy man, determined to reconnect with his (Daisy-based) former sweetheart Ava. The obvious parallels end there, as Watts confidently crafts an original narrative starring troubled characters in search of connection and meaning.
After multiple miscarriages, Ava’s need for motherhood becomes obsessive. Her husband already has a secret child. Her mother, Sylvia, might have replaced her son with a convict she’s never met but whose collect calls she regularly accepts. Ava’s father is unsure whose bed to occupy.
Narrator Janina Edwards’s ability to cross generations, genders, and ages enhances Watts’s family saga with spirit and vitality. Enlivened by Edwards’s versatile performance, these Pinewood residents will each confront demanding decisions.
Verdict: Given both the book’s acclaim and popularity, libraries will want to offer multiple formats to eager audiences.