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We Are Called to Rise by Laura McBride
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We Are Called to Rise

by Laura McBride

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Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
While visiting an indie bookstore in Las Vegas, I picked up We Are Called to Rise based on a bookseller recommendation. Having never heard of author Laura McBride, it was a leap of reading faith. And neither the author nor the book let me down!

McBride writes the novel through the voices of four people with distinct life experiences. My favorite was the eight-year-old boy whose Albanian immigrant parents are struggling to assimilate in boomtown Las Vegas. It turns out he was the author’s favorite character also, and I felt that in how deftly she portrayed his thoughts and feelings.

Two other characters are women living in Las Vegas, with very different roles in the story. While they seem to be about the same age, one is confident and sure of her place in the world and the other is finding her way after a few unexpected changes. The final main character is an Army veteran just returning stateside. Through him, McBride shows us the physical toll that emotional upheaval takes on our bodies. And vice versa.

Read the full review at TheBibliophage.com. ( )
  TheBibliophage | Mar 20, 2018 |
Each chapter of this book is told from a different point of view. The thing they all have in common is that they live in Las Vegas and as the book unfolds, we learn how they all become connected.
Avis has spent her whole life in constant fear that something would happen to her beloved son, Nate. She lost daughter, Emily, at a very young age and it has a huge effect on the rest of her life. When the book opens, Avis is standing naked in front of her husband thinking of ways she can spice up their marriage when he tells her that he is in love with someone else. Avis is faced with the heartbreak of losing her house and her husband.
Avis had a rough childhood, living with a drunk mother who moved from one abusive relationship to another and moved into one run down hotel to another, sometimes even living in the back of a car. She has spent her whole life trying to not be anything like her mother.
Nate is Avis’s son. He recently came back from serving time in Iraq and has just begun his career as a police officer. His mother notices he isn’t quite right when he returns home from the war and his PTSD gets worse and worse until something tragic happens.
Bashkim is a young Albanian boy in Las Vegas. His father was put in an Albanian prison for protesting an act of the government. He applied for political asylum with the United States and his family was sent to live in Vegas. Bashkim’s mother is lonely in US. She misses her family and their homeland.
Bashkim’s father is often violent and angry. Bashkim worries a lot. He lives in a state of fear that he will get in trouble at school, which will get him into trouble with his father. As a school project, Bashkim begins writing letters to a soldier in Iraq.
Luis is Bashkim’s pen pal. After three years in Iraq (or hell as he called it) he shoots his own self in the head and winds up in the hospital instead of dead. He wanted more than anything to be a good soldier and make his grandmother, who raised him, proud of him. Luis blames himself for everything. He is full of anger and guilt and self-loathing. He lays in bed and wonders, “Will I ever be a man again? Will I always be this crippled fuck?” At 22 years old, Luis feels he has nothing left to hope for, he doesn’t know what to do with so much pain and failure and he has no idea what to do with his life if he’s not a soldier.
The letters he receives and writes to Bashkim begin to wake him up and bring him back around. They make him want to do something right. Bashkim really gives Luis the will to live again.
Roberta is a court appointed Special Advocate who takes her job very seriously. She puts all her heart in soul into her job and wants to make recommendations for the children she helps that she would make if the child were her own. She learns everything she can about each child so she can make the best decision possible for the future.
Las Vegas, in my opinion, is also a character in the book. “It’s not a small town anymore. For decades, people have been streaming in from all over the world, from every country on the planet; stateless people, desperate people, eager people, ambitious people. They came for easy work, the ability to pay someone off, for the chance to start over. They come because they are rich, they come because they are poor, and someday soon, all these hundreds of thousands, millions, of newcomers may even wipe clean the slate drawn by Vegas’s earliest dreamers.”
These three quotes sum up everything the book was about:
“Coincidences can be powerful. The strangest coincidences are opportunities.”
“Things happen to us that are more than we can take. And we break. We break for a moment, for a while. But that break is not who we are. It’s not the sum total of who we are.”
“One small thing changes everything. The tiniest act, the smallest space of time, the most inconsequential of decisions, changes a life. Whole lives are born out of the most fragile of happenstance.” ( )
  dawnlovesbooks | Mar 20, 2018 |
I became more interested in the story when I could see how all the characters were important to each other. I enjoyed the stories about people who make their home in Las Vegas. It was not a joyful read but I liked the way the author gave us the situation throught the eyes of many characters. ( )
  janismack | Oct 3, 2017 |
I liked reading this book told from four viewpoints, but was very disappointed in the unrealistic ending, hence the four star rating - Misunderstanding cultural differences caused a tragedy for an immigrant family, and children suffered hugely as result. There were many heroes in the story -many who went above and beyond to protect the children - the father of the family suffered extreme ptsd as did a returning soldier, and so much of the tragic outcome was affected by their internal traumas.

I read most of the book on a long plane ride and it certainly kept me involved - I look forward to reading other works by this author. ( )
  njinthesun | Aug 11, 2017 |
Set in the Las Vegas where people live, rather than in the casinos filled with tourists, McBride’s debut novel tells the story of four different people whose lives intersect as the result of one split-second choice. Avis is a woman whose marriage is crumbling after 29 years. Bashkim is the nine-year-old son of Albanian immigrants who struggle to make do while isolated from all family and friends. Luis is a veteran, waking up in Walter Reed hospital from nightmares that hint at something awful that happened. Roberta is a social worker and volunteer, who tries to help the lost and disillusioned, the emotionally wounded and mentally fragile people who wind up in court, especially the kids.

The novel is told by each of these four characters in turn, letting the reader get to know their various hopes, dreams, disappointments, joys, failures, and triumphs. I was immediately drawn into their personal stories. I wanted to know how they got to where they are, where they hoped to go, how they planned to get there. And, having been teased by the book jacket, I was curious about how their lives would intersect.

McBride does a great job of writing these characters, making them real to the reader. I thought Roberta’s story was the least developed, and she has little role in the central plot until close to the end of the book. I also felt the ending was a little too contrived. But those are really my only complaints about the book.

I also really liked the way she described life in Las Vegas. One of my best friends used to live there, and she commented how most residents lead typical lives; kids go to school, adults go to work, the casinos may be the major employers, but there are other employers and other jobs. The story really could have been set anywhere in America and still ring true.

It’s a great debut, and I look forward to reading McBride’s next work. ( )
  BookConcierge | Jun 12, 2017 |
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We never know how high we are Till we are called to rise; And then, if we are true to plan, Our statures touch the skies--- Emily Dickinson
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For Bill Yaffe and for our children Leah and Noah and for our nephew Stealth
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An immigrant youth struggling to assimilate, a middle-aged housewife with a troubled marriage, a Vegas social worker, and a wounded soldier connect with each other and rescue themselves in the wake of an unthinkable incident.

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