We Are Called to Rise by Laura McBride

Posted June 5, 2014 in A Novel Read / 5 Comments

I received this book from Netgalley for review consideration.

We Are Called to Rise by Laura McBrideWe are Called to Rise by Laura McBride
Published by Simon and Schuster on June 3rd, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Debut, Family Life, Fiction
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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An immigrant boy whose family is struggling to assimilate. A middle-aged housewife coping with an imploding marriage and a troubled son. A social worker at home in the darker corners of Las Vegas. A wounded soldier recovering from an injury he can't remember getting. By the time we realize how these voices will connect, the impossible and perhaps the unbearable has already happened. We Are Called to Rise is a boomtown tale, in which the lives of people from different backgrounds and experiences collide in a stunning coincidence. When presented the opportunity to sink into despair, these characters rise. Through acts of remarkable charity and bravery, they rescue themselves. Emotionally powerful yet tender and intimate, We Are Called to Rise is a novel of redemption and unexpected love.

We Are Called to Rise is a compelling debut from Laura McBride, I wanted to turn the pages faster than I could read them. An emotional and powerful story (inspired by a true event which McBride describes in her Author’s Notes) unravels through the eyes of four Las Vegas residents – a middle-aged woman coming to terms with her son’s PTSD, a social worker, an eight year old Albanian boy and an injured soldier returning home.  

Opening with a brief look back at Avis‘s troubled childhood, born to a teenage mom, moved from house to house, school to school, raising her younger brother. She now has a family of her own, a husband with influence in the community (he can pull strings), a grown son a year out of the military going through the LVPD academy, and still taking care of her brother.

Next we have Roberta, a social worker and volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocate for Children (or CASA) who lives and breathes for complex cases. She gets emotionally involved with most of her cases, looking for solutions that sometimes aren’t possible.

Eight-year old Bashkim and his family moved to Las Vegas from Albania when they applied for political asylum. His father has a distaste for authority, whether it’s the police, the military, even school principals, and avoids confrontation with such people. Bashkim worries that his school will find out how his father treats his mother, and that, sometimes, all that they can afford to eat for dinner is a cone from the family ice cream van.

Mexican-American Luis wakes up in a military hospital, he can’t remember how he got there (or he doesn’t want to) and must come to terms with the death of his partner. He grew up in Las Vegas in his grandmother’s care and must get well enough to return home.

The lives of these four people gradually intercept, culminating with a tragic accident that will change the lives of all involved. And left me speechless!

We Are Called to Rise was one of the best books I have read so far this year. The chapters alternated between the four point of views, and at the end of each one I wanted to continue reading to find out what happens next. Especially as their lives began coming together. A real page-turner!

Laura McBride paints a picture of Las Vegas far from the flashing lights, fountains and riches of the Strip. She delves into the poverty and racism with the different communities. She touches on the military community within Las Vegas and the soldiers who return attempting to adjust to normal life. Then there is post traumatic stress disorder, how it can remain hidden, the complexities and lack of support which returning soldiers need, and how society is failing these veterans.

We Are Called to Rise left me with many feelings, thoughts and questions. I always say that a novel that leaves you thinking days, weeks, even months later is a special one! I’ll be eagerly waiting to see what McBride comes up with next.

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