Sunday, 13 September 2015

We Are Called to Rise - Laura McBride Book Review

I’m drawn to books which are written from a number of characters’ points of view. Where each individual is linked, but the reader doesn’t know why, and as we read on, the writer slowly reveals how each character is connected. We Are Called to Rise ended up on my book shelf because it’s one of these stories.

There are 4 narrators in total. We have Avis, a mother whose marriage has come to a sudden demise and Bashkin, whose family has migrated from Albania and are struggling to adjust to American life. There’s Luis, a soldier who wakes up severely injured in hospital with no recollection of how he got there and finally, a care worker called Roberta who features less heavily than the previous three. All four are tied by one devastating event. The use of numerous view points is greatly effective and powerful in portraying the story's message: many people can be affected in very varied ways by one incident. It hones in on the idea that there's more than one side to a story, but also a person. We aren't completely good or completely bad, we each have a parts of both in us and this is what makes us human.

Another pivotal component to this novel is the setting – Las Vegas. The glamorous boomtown backdrop is a clever juxtaposition against the hardship faced by each storyteller. War is a main theme in We Are Called To Rise and the plot reminds the reader of how the quake of destruction and devastation caused by warfare goes way way beyond the warfield itself. As the title suggests it's a tale of testing tragedy and each individuals' struggle to survive and overcome times of extreme adversity.

I was extremely Laura McBride’s first book and for the first half, I was sucked in. She writes in these 4 differentiated voices so convincingly, I loved it. However, once I'd reached the final third, I wasn't as infatuated. I'm not 100% sure on why, but I guess I felt that the ending sort of trailed off and wasn't as hard hitting as I anticipated. Despite correctly predicting one of the main aspects of the finale, I had a number of questions left unanswered. That being said, the good definitely outweighs the bad in We Are Called to Rise and overall I did enjoy it and would say it is worth reading.
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