Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Review: We Are Called to Rise by Laura McBride

We Are Called to Rise left me in tears. The debut novel Laura McBride tells a beautiful and complicated story of how a number of people in difficult circumstances find themselves rising to help others who are in need. Set in Las Vegas, the novel offers readers a very different picture of the city, devoid of the stereotypes that are usually seen in books, film and television. This isn't a tale of fast women and casinos, this is a tale of real people--Avis, whose husband is leaving her for another woman and whose son has returned from Iraq as a changed man, Roberta a woman who fights for social justice, Luis another soldier who is in hospital following a very traumatic incident and Bashkim, an intelligent eight-year-old boy who is the son of Albanian refugees. The first third of the novel allows us to meet the characters. A surprising incident occurs after Bashkim is assigned to be Luis' pen-pal for a school project, however another, far greater incident occurs about a third of the way in that causes many of the characters to bind together in one way or another to help Bashkim, his baby sister and their father. For Roberta, it's a matter of seeing justice done. For Luis, it's a way to atone for a previous mistake. And for Avis, it is a major wake-up call and turning point when she comes to the realisation that she alone cannot help her son.

The ending ties many of the characters together nicely, and offers a wonderful commentary of the human spirit and the good that we can each find within ourselves. I loved the different narratives that ran through the novel, particularly the 'voice' that the author gave to Bashkim. Luis was another character who I found fascinating. I also loved the vivid and very real depictions of Las Vegas. A great novel for anyone who wants to read about the eventual triumph of the human spirit. Highly recommended.

Finally, a big shout out to Anna from Simon and Schuster for my review copy.