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Friday, June 13, 2014

We Are Called to Rise: A Novel

We Are Called to Rise by Laura McBride is one of those rare tangled-web stories that I buy into hook, line, and sinker and genuinely love.

A group of people who never in a million years would have thought they would be connected are thrown together under the most tragic of circumstances. A young immigrant boy who is just trying to find his place in school; his army soldier pen pal who is dealing with demons beyond comprehension; a volunteer child advocate who cares deeply about the voiceless; a mother whose Iraqi war vet son may be about to go off the deep end. These stories collide under the most heartbreaking of circumstances, and show that the human spirit is greater than a simple token.

This is McBride's debut novel and it is a great one. It is so empathically written, with such heart and such gusto that each character takes on a life of his or her own. This novel is written from all perspectives, and as you watch the climax coming you can see something is going to happen and you keep hoping against hope that it's not what you think it is, and as these lives begin to collide you understand that this could not have happened any other way. It's heartbreaking but it's understandable; you can't look away.

As we get older (well, I hope this is a general "we" anyway), we begin to see things as far more complicated than we ever could have as young people. Avis was probably the one I most gravitated toward. She was a fifty-something housewife whose husband ups and leaves her for a younger woman. That she can barely deal with, then you add on her recently returned Iraqi vet son who just hasn't been the same since returning, you feel this is a powder keg about to blow. She was so sympathetic as a character and, in my opinion, the best-developed in this book. Watching her try to help her broken son and her daughter-in-law while she tries to prevent a tragedy you know must be coming is astounding and heart-pounding.

I also love that Las Vegas was truly a character of its own in the book. The city comes alive with the people who live there, who recognize the draw of the lights but live in the quieter shadows of a town that lives off of the thrill. It was really incredible and lovely.

Hard copy for purchase below.

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