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Book Review

‘We Are Called To Rise’


bookCourtesy of Beaverdale Books

Review by Fay Jones

Simon & Schuster

June 3, 2014


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307 pp

Laura McBride’s new novel offers an emotionally powerful tale about a different side of Las Vegas, where ordinary people call it home and try for a normal life. Inspired by an actual event that occurred in the city, her story is told in the voices of four narrators, and she slowly unfolds these characters through alternating chapters. After a tragic shooting, their lives converge.

Avis grew up poor in Las Vegas, Nevada, and now, at 53, she is surprised to find her marriage ending and contends with a son who has returned home from a third tour in Iraq, volatile and violent.

Bashkim is an 8-year old immigrant boy who lives with his Albanian refugee parents and little sister. Isolated and poor, they run an ice cream truck. Bashkim fears his abusive father, does his best to care for his beloved mom and little sister, and finds solace in school.

Luis, another Iraq veteran, is recovering in a military hospital after the horrors he encountered at war caused him to try to end his life. He and Bashkim begin to correspond as part of a school pen pal project.

McBride deftly lends each character a distinct, realistic voice, and it’s easy to come to feel for each character and to realize the author does, too. Other rich, secondary characters lend depth, such as Bashkim’s principal, Luis’s grandmother and Avis’s brother. With sure storytelling talent, McBride builds tension as tragedy occurs and the character’s lives intersect. Confronting great loss, they must decide how to respond, where their responsibilities lie and to consider that compassion can be a salvation. This is a tender debut, a heartbreaking story of love, redemption and community. CV

Fay Jones was born with a love of literature, which was finely shored up throughout her early years by her parents & a beloved children’s librarian who wore the thickest glasses ever manufactured. Jones once won a coupon for a free ice cream cone after her suggestion for a name for the local Reading Is Fundamental mascot was selected. 

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