We Are Called to Rise by Laura McBride

I adored this book. It’s hard to believe that Laura McBride is a debut novelist, because the characters she creates in We Are Called to Rise are so real and engaging that I could happily have spent twice as long with all of them.

Although McBride writes from four points of view – midlife divorcee Avis, social worker Roberta, eight-year-old immigrant Bashkim and wounded soldier Luis – it’s really Bashkim and Luis that form the heart of the book. Based on a real incident that McBride had a tangential connection to, the turning point of the book connects all four narrators in one heartrending incident.

I would have loved to have heard more from both Avis and Roberta. Avis’s sections have a tendency towards moralising and philosophising, but McBride made her a nuanced and complex character whose company I enjoyed. Roberta served as more of a bridge between characters than anything, but was also the main introduction to the omnipresent fifth character – Las Vegas itself. McBride paints a vivid picture of Sin City, from the sordid to the suburbs, that made me feel like a real visitor, fully immersed in the environment.

Having had this book lingering on my Kindle for a while, I was pleased when it came up as my book club’s read of the month. I raced through it inside four days, and found myself returning to it with enthusiasm each time. McBride is an extraordinary talent for a new author, and I look forward to seeing where she goes next.

[Read from 21-25 January 2017]

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