June 2014 Indie Next List
“Bashkim, Avis, Roberta and Luis introduce us to a Las Vegas not apparent to the casual tourist. Beyond being residents of the same city, it is hard to imagine what could possibly link a third grade Albanian immigrant, a middle-aged woman on the brink of divorce, a dedicated volunteer in the Child Advocacy System, and a young Mexican war veteran recovering from physical and mental trauma. Through their stories, we see tragedy and hardship, and, ultimately, what the human heart is capable of and the inseparable link between being human and making humane choices for ourselves and others.”
— Andrea Avantaggio, Maria's Bookshop, Durango, CO
“Your heart will break…then soar” (Redbook) when, far from the neon lights of the Vegas strip, three lives collide in a split-second mistake and a child’s fate hangs in the balance.
Avis thought her marriage had hit a temporary rut. But with a single confession in the middle of the night, her carefully constructed life comes undone. After escaping a tumultuous childhood and raising a son, she now faces a future without the security of the home and family she has spent decades building.
Luis only wants to make the grandmother who raised him proud. As a soldier, he was on his way to being the man she taught him to be until he woke up in Walter Reed Hospital with vague and troubling memories of how he got there. Now he must find a new way to live a life of honor.
Every day, young Bashkim looks forward to the quiet order of school and the kind instruction of his third grade teacher. His family relocated to Las Vegas after fleeing political persecution in their homeland. Now their ice cream truck provides just enough extra income to keep them afloat. With his family under constant stress, Bashkim opens his heart to his pen pal, a US soldier.
When these lives come together in a single, shocking moment, each character is called upon to rise. “You’ll be thinking about these characters long after you finish this haunting, heart-wrenching, and hopeful book” (Houston Chronicle).
"Stirring...pitch-perfect...a universal story about the messy wonders of community. A-"
"Your heart will break...then soar."
"Rarely does a novel reach into my soul and leave me sobbing, but We Are Called to Rise did just that with its beautifully drawn characters, true-to-life plot, and such exquisite writing that it's hard to believe that this is Laura McBride's first book....a graceful portrait of our time."
"The lives of four Las Vegas families collide, reminding us all that every act--no matter how insignificant it might seem--matters. You'll be thinking about these characters long after you finish this haunting, heart-wrenching and hopeful book."
"With new books from Stephen King, Hilary Clinton and Lee Child, there will be plenty of competition for beach reading tis summer, but the hot season's most intriguing new release might just be the debut novel by 53-year-old Laura McBride."
The consequences of war at home, and the possibility of community in our most atomized places, form the heart of a novel that's by turns hopeful and tragic, but never maudlin."
"Hauntingly timely...pitch-perfect...a plainspoken realism that beckons the reader along from page one...reminding us that courage and character are often writ large during the darkest of days."
"McBride has written an urgent morality tale for our times in the form of this poignant and gripping debut."
"A tour de force of imagination that packs a wallop...immensely moving...without question, McBride is a truly commanding literary presence."
"McBride's characters are warm with pulsating vitality....it is a testament to the author's mature voice and storytelling talent that we are willing to take to heart the lessons her story offers."
“Both tense and touching, intimate and global, Laura McBride's debut is a genuinely affecting story of innocence, resilience, and the surprising ties that connect us all. The characters' voices are so real, so raw and human, you will find yourself thinking of them long after you have turned the last page.”
"Here is the powerful story of the way in which war detonates far from battlefields, exploding lives in a single irrevocable moment. Here are unforgettable voices that need to be heard as urgently as this richly imagined story needs to be told. Like a solitary bell We Are Called to Rise reverberated long after I'd put it down. I can't stop thinking about it."
“Laura McBride had me hooked on her novel by page two, the beginning of a roller coaster ride of emotions powered by her gorgeously strong writing. She took me to sorrow and despair and then to the heights of love and forgiveness, where we find our best selves. We are Called to Rise is a powerful, memorable achievement.”
“It's been a long time since I invested myself as a reader so thoroughly, so hopefully, in a character as I did for the small, young life at the center of this poignant narrative. Laura McBride writes with the foresight and compassion of the best storytellers. Her range of voices and perspectives is as impressive as her ability to plumb the depths of ordinary lives touched by extraordinary circumstances. This is a tender yet urgent entreaty not to scale impossible heights but to rise to the intimate challenge, and to call forth the love needed, to piece together a child’s shattered home and heart."
“With this novel, Laura McBride dismantles the American dream. Set in Las Vegas, our most opulent nowhere, a long-running marriage collapses in a single moment. A boy’s family crumbles in a clash of cultures. Soldiers return from bad wars detonated—the pins pulled on their fragile minds. Still, they must all somehow move forward out of these losses, into futures for which they have no assembly instructions. Strength is simply their last available option, they’d rather not have to come up with it. And it is precisely this—the reluctance with which they become their best selves—that makes this such an emotionally powerful story.”
"Laura McBride's searing and expansive vision will hold you in its
grip from start to finish. Her Las Vegas characters outshine even the
glitz of that city in their fierce humanity."
"Succeeds brilliantly...one of the finest books of the year."
"One of the best books I've read this year. It broke my heart and put it back together. It made me cry, and it gave me hope."
"A haunting meditation on the aftermath of war and the search for inner peace."