This month, it’s We are Called to Rise by Laura McBride.
We are Called to Rise / Laura McBride
In the predawn hours, a woman’s marriage crumbles with a single confession. Across town, an immigrant family struggles to get by in the land of opportunity. Three thousand miles away, a soldier wakes up in hospital with a vague feeling he’s done something awful. In a single moment, these disparate lives intersect. Faced with seemingly insurmountable loss, each person must decide whether to give in to despair, or to find the courage and resilience to rise.
But the stories are compelling and the writing beautiful. Whatever my feelings about the ending, when I closed this book for the last time, I couldn’t help but be glad that I’d read it.
Next we hear from Bashkim, the child whose fate will be determined by the stories unfolding. And, further into the book, we discover Luis, as he comes to in a hospital, and comes to the realisation he’s done something awful.
Often in books told from different viewpoints, the voices start to sound similar and you forget who’s narrating. Roberta and Avis become more difficult to distinguish between as the book progresses, but I always knew when I was hearing the thoughts of Bashkim or Luis. I found their voices mesmerising.
There are other things I want to say about this book. But I don’t do spoilers. You can find reviews with spoilers if you’re into that (or you can come on over to the facebook discussion where we usually go into more detail). But I’ll just say that even though I saw the ‘single moment’ in which ‘these disparate lives intersect’ coming, it didn’t diminish the impact at all.
It is powerful. It hurts.
And I cried.
- I like the way Mr. Ernie talks, and I like the way Mrs. Monaghan talks, but I think it’s funny how grown-ups speak with their accents at school. At home I speak Albanian, or sometimes American that sounds Albanian, but at school I just speak regular American.
- If we left this house, then the few memories we had, the trailing decrescendo of images left to us, might be gone altogether.
- But failing isn’t proof that nothing matters or that we were fools to care. We fail even though things matter very much; it’s the possibility of failure that makes them matter even more.
- I’ve been practicing in my mind, trying to find some words, but they’ve all been taken, all used for ordinary considerations that mean nothing in comparison to what he has meant.
- And when the street is dark, when not a single car passes me for minutes on end, I turn and I walk my crooked uncoordinated brain-fucked-up walk back to the house I grew up in – the one with the big rock in front.
Last month, after reading Big Little Lies, I was relieved that I didn’t have star-rating for books. I wrote, ‘When I finished Big Little Lies, I would have recommended it. Now I’ve sat with the book for a week or so, I’m not sure. I think it depends on how real you want your characters to be.’
I almost feel the opposite about this book. When I finished it, the (few) disappointments were all I could think about. Now that I’ve sat with the book for a week, it’s the strength and beauty of the other parts of the book that have stayed with me.
Have you read We are Called to Rise? What did you think?
Previous book reviews:
Big Little Lies
The Best Feeling of All and Your Best Year Yet
The Headmaster’s Wife (my guest post at Allison Tait‘s blog)
The Night Guest
The Thirteenth Tale
The Shadow Year and Barracuda
The Paris Wife
Mister Pip and The Light Between Oceans
Big Brother and We Need to Talk About Kevin
The Shining Girls and The Fault in Our Stars