Gerald opens his memoir by describing himself at age 12, sitting in a church pew in great anticipation of the impending Rapture. When the clock turns and 1999 becomes 2000 and he and his fellow congregants remain, is he relieved, or disappointed? Gerald then looks back at the beginning, as he remembers it ... Gerald pulls no punches in telling his extraordinary story, which he relates with unsparing truth, no small amount of feeling, and a complete lack of sentimentality. Painful lessons dart in and pummel his unsuspecting self, and scenes of startling intensity are often pierced—and pieced back together—by light and humor. Also an accomplished public speaker, Gerald will hook readers with richly layered writing on poverty, progress, race, belief, and the actual American Dream.
[There Will Be No Miracles Here is] a stunningly original literary memoir from a young man who's just as good a writer as he is an entrepreneur ... And while the book isn't exactly cynical, it's refreshingly lacking in all things optimistic and inspirational. Gerald writes openly about his struggles with faith in his family and in anything divine. To be sure, Gerald does have epiphanies, but he looks at them with a healthy skepticism ... Gerald would probably roll his eyes at the phrasing, but his memoir is a shining and sincere miracle of a book.
... magnificent ... At times Gerald moves too quickly to the next scene or idea, when he might have benefited from a more sustained explanation of his thinking. On the other hand, he just might have crafted a consummate 21st-century memoir for readers whose brains have been rewired by Google, their attention always under siege. Gerald also pushes stylistic conventions, with short passages where he writes about himself in the third person or directly addresses the reader. He includes metanarratives as well as letters, emails and speeches. And ever present is the enchantment of his voice, one that is at turns exuberant, humorous, unsentimental, imaginative, keen. While Gerald’s style is engaging, the locus of the book is his extraordinary journey ... But [Gerald's] life, and this memoir, serve as proof of his prodigious talents, of the truth that, for the gifted like him, struggles that range from a serious hardship to a little mistake can yield something miraculous.
...[a] compulsively readable memoir ... Gerald’s staccato prose and peripatetic storytelling combine the cadences of the Bible with an urgency reminiscent of James Baldwin in this powerfully emotional memoir.
Instead of continuing to smile and say thank you as he did for so many years, [Gerald] has written There Will Be No Miracles Here. [This book takes] on the important work of exposing the damage done to America, especially its black population ... Gerald [refuses] to trace a formulaic arc, whether of family dysfunction passed down or of children surging ahead and guaranteeing hope to those left behind.
At its best, the book asks readers to consider how and why black people are called on to tell the nation our stories, what kinds of stories we are commanded to tell, and why society is so eager to wrest them from us when we will not tell them to the nation’s liking. No Miracles dramatizes the incessant circulation of black personal narratives, laying bare their integral relationship to America’s self-conception ... Gerald’s efforts to encompass the totality of his experience sometimes come at the expense of depth. No Miracles skitters from episode to episode, granting equal weight to each, with the result that no one story feels particularly consequential. Worse, he can be maddeningly vague at pivotal moments ... despite the book’s shortcomings, Gerald is a vivid and compelling narrator. Like Zora Neale Hurston’s, his prose shines with the verve, intelligence, and inventiveness of the black vernacular, and his memoir is a crucial intervention in a literary landscape where black people are often compelled to recite their stories at their own expense.
... while Gerald’s writing is direct and painfully honest, it lacks a bitterness or grudge that one would say he’s warranted in holding ... At times his tone might be read as detached, or too cold, but the matter-of-fact (and occasionally flippant) tenor he takes with such recollections feels well-measured and necessary ... this book is Gerald’s attempt to construct his own narrative as best as he can, and it’s successful. It teaches, it confounds. It’s funny, and sometimes it makes you suck your teeth in irritation.
... excellent ... Though there are no miracles, there is magic. Casey Gerald conjures lines so beautiful and heartbreaking, that you can’t look away, even if you want to. He is the rare writer that incites an almost visceral response from the reader ... The strength of the memoir is Gerald’s beautiful clear sentences. He communicates the humanity of the people in his life, particularly his family, denying the reader the comfort of reducing them to villains or monsters.
The author deftly navigates through the events shaping his identities ... Hardly a by-the-numbers memoir, this is a powerful book marked by the author’s refreshingly complicated and insightful storytelling.