Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Review: We Are Called to Rise

Summary: Three lives are bound together by a split-second mistake, and a child’s fate hangs in the balance.

What happens next will test—and restore—your faith in humanity.

Far from the neon lights of the Vegas strip, three lives are about to collide. A middle aged woman attempting to revive her marriage. A returning soldier waking up in a hospital with no memory of how he got there. A very brave eight-year-old immigrant boy.

This is a story about families—the ones we have and the ones we make. It’s a story about America today, where so many cultures and points of view collide and coexist. We Are Called to Rise challenges us to think about our responsibilities to each other and reminds us that no matter how cruel life can be in a given moment, it is ultimately beautiful to live, and live fully. -- Simon & Schuster

WE ARE CALLED TO RISE by Laura McBride will probably go down as one of my favorite novels of 2014. I absolutely loved this book! I found the story to be gripping, the characters to be well developed, and it moved me like few books do. I totally understand why Entertainment Weekly (one of my favorite sources for books) gave it an A-.

WE ARE CALLED TO RISE takes place in Las Vegas and tells the stories of four individuals whose lives are brought together by a horrible event. First there is Avis, a woman who is shocked to learn that her husband wants a divorce. In addition, she is also aware that something isn't quite right with her son who has returned from his third tour in Iraq. Then there is Roberta, an advocate for children who sees an entirely different side of Las Vegas than the one that tourists see. There is also Baskim, an 8 year old boy whose parents are Albanian refugees. And lastly, there is Luis Rodriguez-Reyes, a soldier who has returned home after a devastating accident in Afghanistan.

The novel alternates between each of these four characters as they tell their own stories, and believe me when I say, that there is a great deal of sadness in each of their lives. One fateful and tragic day, something occurs that causes their stories to intersect; and this event forever changes their lives in powerful ways.

I'm almost certain that I've scared many of you away with this grim description of WE ARE CALLED TO RISE; however, I actually found this book to be a story about the strength and resilience of the human spirit. While I did find myself tearing up more than once, I eventually was left with the message that people are inherently good rather than bad. And I ended this novel with a feeling of peace and hope.

I am pretty certain that my review won't do justice to this book and how special it was to me. I just loved so much about it. I could go on and on about the beauty of Ms. McBride's writing or the way these individual stories came together, or how the book just resonated with me. However, I will focus on a just few things that really stood out to me!

First and foremost was the way Ms. McBride brought these characters to life. I loved how the story was told through these four characters' voices, and I thought she did an amazing job of making each character's voice unique. She covered a lot of ground with a 50-something wife and mother, to an 8 year old boy immigrant, to a woman helping children in need, to an injured veteran; yet she made each voice entirely believable. I loved how the characters she created were representative of today's society with different ages, different social classes, and different ethnicities, and how she focused on the goodness of humanity through their actions.

In addition, I really liked how much this book made me think. I honestly couldn't put it down because I cared so much about these characters. When tragedy hit each one of them (albeit in very different ways), I appreciated seeing how they handled it. I also loved the messages in this book about how resilient people can be and how they can help others even at the expense of their own lives. WE ARE CALLED TO RISE was, without a doubt, sad. But it was also beautiful -- much like life in general.

WE ARE CALLED TO RISE would make an outstanding book club selection! There is so much to discuss about these well-drawn characters, as well as the messages in the story. Fortunately, there is a reading guide available with fourteen questions along with some ideas for enhancing your book club experience. Some of the themes you might want to explore include the effects of war on soldiers, marriage, love, motherhood, immigration issues, abuse, mental health, loss, grief, guilt, forgiveness, and hope.

I adored WE ARE CALLED TO RISE and can't recommend it enough! Don't miss out on this beautiful book!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.


bermudaonion said...

Wow,I feel like I need to run right out and get a copy of this book. It sounds terrific!

Books on the Table said...

I loved this book as well. I read the ARC a couple of months ago, and haven't posted my review yet because, honestly, the book meant so much to me I was afraid I was gushing too much in my review. I have the book face-out in my store with a shelf talker that says it's my favorite book of the summer. Your review was wonderful!