There Will Be No Miracles Here
Casey Gerald comes to our fractured times as a uniquely visionary witness whose life has spanned seemingly unbridgeable divides. His story begins at the end of the world: Dallas, New Year's Eve 1999, when Casey gathers with the congregation of his grandfather's black evangelical church to see which of them will be carried off. The journey that follows is filled with yearned-for arrivals and unexpected, often devastating departures. His beautiful, fragile mother disappears frequently and mysteriously; for a brief idyll, he and his sister live like Boxcar Children on her disability checks. When Casey — following in the footsteps of his father, a gridiron legend who literally broke his back for the team — is recruited to play football at Yale, he enters a world he's never dreamed of, the anteroom to secret societies and success on Wall Street, in Washington, and beyond.
But even as he attains the inner sanctums of power, Casey sees how the world crushes those who live at its margins. He sees how everything becomes possible for the elite, and how they perpetuate the salvation stories that keep others from rising, that aggrandize themselves, that protect the ever-more-untenable status quo. And he sees, most painfully, how his own ascension is part of the scheme.
There Will Be No Miracles Here has the arc of a classic rags-to-riches narrative, but it stands the American Dream narrative on its head, arriving at a more timely, subversive, and truly revelatory end. If to live as we are is destroying us, it asks, what would it mean to truly live? What would it mean to be truly free? Intense, incantatory, shot through with sly humor and quiet fury, There Will Be No Miracles Here inspires us to question — even shatter — and reimagine our most cherished myths.
Author: Casey Gerald | Publisher: Riverhead
Rating: 4 / 5
There Will Be No Miracles Here is an example of exactly why I love to read memoir. Actually, I really love to listen to memoir audiobooks (as I did with this one) — the author often reads the book themself. And this book is incredibly honest, raw, and thought-provoking.
Casey Gerald spent most of his challenging childhood deep in Texas, in an economically disadvantaged neighborhood and school district. With a bipolar mother and two parents who succumbed to addiction, plus a big, star-football-sized legacy to live up to and a blossoming understanding of his own homosexuality, it wasn’t easy. Then he went to Yale, where he lost himself a bit as he searched for a purpose and stove to make an impact. He almost drove himself off a moral cliff.
Casey’s experiences as a gay Black man from the South are pretty much completely opposite my own, and so reading his memoir definitely helped open my eyes to more than I had previously seen. For that, I’m always grateful. Especially because he is just so gosh darn honest — he didn’t like the person he became for a little while there, but he doesn’t sugar-coat it for us. He lets us see it all.
I did think that there were parts of the book that dragged a little, but it was worth pushing through for sure. Also, maybe it was because I listened to the audiobook, but the writing could sometimes be a little frantic and scattered. If I missed a single sentence, or a single part of a sentence, he could suddenly be talking about something completely different — so it was occasionally hard to follow.
I’m also left a little unsure how, exactly, he found his way back to “himself” at the end. It’s like he was lost in this cyclone of achievement-at-any-cost and then … he wasn’t anymore? That led to a little of the “why” behind “why are YOU writing a memoir” to get lost. So I enjoyed it, but I’m not 110% clear on what the takeaway is from this one.
Still, this is completely worth your time. Definitely read it, expand your experience of the world and the people in it. See through someone else’s eyes, honestly and critically. And then pass it on to someone else.