There Will Be No Miracles Here (Gerald)

There Will Be No Miracles Here:  A Memoir
Casey Gerald, 2018
Penguin Publishing
400 pp.

The testament of a boy and a generation who came of age as the world came apart—a generation searching for a new way to live.

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 he gathers with the congregation of his grandfather's black evangelical church to see which of them will be carried off. 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 the elite perpetuate the salvation stories that keep others from rising.

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 tale, but it stands the American Dream narrative on its head. If to live as we are is destroying us, it asks, what would it mean to truly live?

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. (From the publisher.)

Author Bio
Where—Oak Cliff, Texas, USA
Education—B.A., Yale University; M.B.A., Harvard University
Currently—lives in Los Angeles, California

Casey Gerald grew up in Oak Cliff, Texas and went to Yale, where he majored in political science and played varsity football. After receiving an MBA from Harvard Business School, he cofounded MBAs Across America. He has been featured on MSNBC, at TED and SXSW, on the cover of Fast Company, and in The New York Times, Financial Times, and The Guardian, among others (From the publisher.)

See the author's TED talk.

Book Reviews
A deeply spiritual memoir about growing up black, poor, and gay in evangelical Texas; Gerald has become a superstar as a TED talker and MBA powerhouse, but this book is quiet and reflective, a document of fearless humility.
Boston Globe

A memoir of lacerating honesty and self-awareness, a book that lets you feel how badly the author needed to write it.… There Will Be No Miracles Here is a portrait of a man looking for what's real, within and for himself. It's also a testament to the power of written words and the role they play in personal transformation. Reading Gerald's book is to see the author come alive, and to look in wonder at the process.
Dallas Morning News

Stunningly original.… By breaking every rule of the… genre, [Gerald has] created something unique and sublime: a beautiful chronicle of a life as yet unfinished.… [A] shining and sincere miracle of a book.

[Gerald] take[s] on the important work of exposing the damage done to America, especially its black population, by the failure to confront the myths, half-truths, and lies at the foundation of the success stories that the nation worships.

 At first glance, Gerald’s story might read as inspirational: A gay black boy born into poverty goes on to Yale, a Harvard M.B.A., and Wall Street. But this memoir is light on triumph and heavy on fatalism, complicating the bootstrap narrative of his life.
New York Magazine

A formally inventive and lyrical memoir about boyhood, blackness, masculinity, faith, privilege, and the search for self that investigates the idea of the American dream, and how the myth of ascension–including the author’s own—is what can ultimately undo us.
Poets & Writers

[A] compulsively readable memoir… about coming into the light of reality in a world filled with deceit and loss, love and hope.… Gerald’s staccato prose and peripatetic storytelling combine the cadences of the Bible with an urgency reminiscent of James Baldwin.

A wide-ranging, hard-to-define memoir of family, identity, and belonging.
Library Journal

(Starred review) 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.… Richly layered writing on poverty, progress, race, belief, and the… American Dream.

(Starred review) A memoir of a religious, gay black man coming to terms with his own nuanced achievement of the American dream.… Hardly a by-the-numbers memoir, this is a powerful book marked by the author's… insightful storytelling.
Kirkus Reviews

Discussion Questions
We'll add publisher questions if and when they're available; in the meantime, use our LitLovers talking points to help start a discussion for THERE WILL BE NO MIRACLES HERE … then take off on your own:

1. What are the influences in Casey Gerald's early life that shaped the kind of man who would come to write There Will Be No Miracles Here? Consider his mother's disappearance, his father's struggle with addiction, and his grandfather as leader of a megachurch.

2. Why was the idea of perfection so important to Casey? He feels he should have been more nonconforming, that he should have resisted expectations. What does he mean, and why does he believe in the importance of nonconformity? What do you think?

3. Talk about the meaning of book's title and its relationship to the first pages. Gerald's memoir opens with his 12-year-old-self praying: "Lord, please take me with You when You come." In what way was Gerald's faith shaken when his savior didn't come for him?

4. Follow-up to Question 3: Consider the title once again: how does its meaning continue to follow Gerald during the next decade or so of his life: Yale, Lehman Brothers, Harvard?

5. How did Gerald experience Yale University as black 18-year-old?

6. How does Gerald define the American Dream? By all measures, it would seem that he himself has achieved the pinnacle of the dream. Yet he rejects its truth. Why?

7. Why did Gerald write this memoir—for what purpose—to point out injustices, to propose solutions, to urge reform, to help others, or to examine his own sense of self?

8. Gerald says it would be easier to have a mother die rather than disappear. Where you shocked, or do you understand why he might make such a statement?

9. Gerald was "just a boy defined by his circumstances," as he writes. He continues…

Perhaps we all are …but why do we lie about it? Why don’t we want to believe it? Is it that it shames us to admit how limited our power is, how much we can submit—have submitted—to the things we did not choose?

What is your response to that question? Are we the sum of our circumstances? Or are we "the captains of our fate"?

10. Watch Casey Gerard's TED talk. How does compare with his memoir? How do the two, the talk and the book, complement one another?

(Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online and off, with attribution. Thanks.)

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