In brief: The story of a number of people in Las Vegas – a woman getting divorced, a young boy from Albania, a soldier and their families. What happens when the worst happens and their lives intersect?
The good: Incredibly emotional and powerful, plus the plotting is fantastic.
The not-so-good: I didn’t want to let the characters go.
Why I chose it: Sent to me by Anna from Simon & Schuster, who is an excellent judge of books that I’ll like.
Pages: 305 (ARC)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Setting: Mainly Las Vegas, USA
My rating: 10 out of 10
Sometimes, you find a book that is all-consuming. Even when you’re not reading it, a part of your mind is still thinking about it, turning over the actions of the characters and what is likely to happen. We Are Called To Rise was one of those books for me. I eagerly waited for the next time I could continue with the story and read it everywhere I went it. It really is that good in my opinion – an incredible debut from Laura McBride that shows intricate plotting, heartfelt emotions and a wide-spanning character range.
We Are Called To Rise is told from the first person point of view of a number of characters, all who are living in Las Vegas or have some connection to there. I know where Vegas is and what it’s famous for, but I’ve never thought deeply about the people who live there day in, day out. One of the characters likens living there to a boomtown – now that I can relate to, living in one myself. However, knowing heaps of people who work in casinos, being familiar with The Strip and the shows in addition to the poverty and suburbs – that is something different to anything I’ve ever experienced. But thanks to Ms McBride, this book makes the reader feel what it’s like – the highs, low, bad times, good times and extreme situations.
The book opens with Avis, who is trying to repair her marriage be slipping into something from her sexy lingerie drawer, which happens to hold her husband’s gun. Who then proceeds to tell her he’s in love with someone else. You think you know what happens next? You’re wrong. Each time we meet Avis, we learn a little more of her background and a Vegas that has never been seen on a movie screen. Avis wants to fit in, be normal. She’s been trying to achieve that all her life.
Roberta has all that – the comfortable existence with a loving husband. But she’s a volunteer and advocate for kids who were like Avis – homeless, helpless and in need of support.
Bashkim’s a young boy from Albania. His greatest fear is a parent-teacher interview at school. Because then everyone might find out that his Baba (dad) hits his Nene (mum) and that everything is not happy at home. Sometimes a meal is a cone from their ice cream truck. Sometimes life is good. Sometimes it’s not.
Luis is a soldier who wakes up to find himself back in America, injured. What happened? What happened to his buddy? How will he deal with it all?
Sometimes when I’m reading a book like this with multiple characters, seemingly unconnected, I can’t wait for the link to join them together. In We Are Called To Rise, I didn’t mind. Each character is so interesting and makes you feel such a range of emotions that I was more than happy for things to continue.
But then the event that links everyone together happened. Without giving things away, I just want to say that McBride wrote this section so well, that my mouth is still hanging open with shock at the event. It’s a testament to the skill of the writing that I immediately thought – but what about Bashkim? What about Avis? How will they cope? The book is a masterful piece of writing that flows perfectly, contains a plot that you won’t forget and characters who are perfectly formed in your head. It’s powerful, it’s emotional, it’s a book that you just need to read – now. How will you react when an event calls you to rise up beyond your comfort zone?
This book will be released early June – please look out for it, I’m sure it’s going to be one of the books for 2014.