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There is a poem by Emily Dickinson about “We never know how high we
are till we are called to rise.”
This poignant debut novel by Laura McBride goes to the very heart of how much the world could be changed if each person stepped up to do the right thing.
“We Are Called to Rise” tells its story from the viewpoint of four characters who are strangers, Las Vegas being their only common thread, until a life-changing catastrophe brings them together. The author notes that a real-life event inspired the key plot element of the story. These characters narrate their own stories in alternating chapters. Las Vegas reveals itself, in addition to its gaming industry, to be a military town with a huge air base.
Avis is a 50-something woman with a marriage that is falling apart and a son, Nathan, who is a troubled vet of the Iraq War. Roberta is an attorney and a court appointed advocate for children. Army specialist Luis Rodriguez-Reyes is 22 years old and suffering from PTSD after fighting in the Middle East. Eight-year-old Bashkim, an Albanian immigrant and pen-pal of Luis, lives with his parents and his little sister, 2-year-old Tirana. His paranoid father, a former political prisoner, beats his wife. Bashkim is a child who loves school but lives in fear of his father. This is ultimately a story about a child’s fate.
“We Are Called to Rise” leaves the reader believing that good things can come from bad. The author writes, “I didn’t set out to write a book about war or poverty or racism. I just wanted the reader to love a child enough to feel devastated when that child’s heart was broken and euphoric when that child got a chance at hope.”
It is also a story about families – the ones people inherit and the ones they create. The characters in this moving book are called to rise up with courage in the face of great odds.