cover image We Are Called to Rise

We Are Called to Rise

Laura McBride. Simon & Schuster, $25 (320p) ISBN 978-1-4767-3896-3

In her debut novel, McBride introduces us chapter by chapter to a disparate group of Las Vegans. Among them are Avis, whose husband Jim has just left her for another woman, and their son, Nate, a troubled veteran of the Iraq War who has returned to join a craven Vegas police department and who has begun to abuse his young wife. We also meet Bashkim, an Albanian immigrant boy whose unassimilated parents barely survive selling ice cream from a truck; another veteran named Luis, who is hospitalized after a suicide attempt, and with whom Bashkim begins corresponding as part of a school project; and various other school officials and charitable folk who, for better or worse, are trying to help sort things out. The story builds tension as the lives of these people unfold, intersecting in violent and catastrophic circumstances. But McBride’s characters are warm with pulsing vitality, their interior struggles as dramatic as the painful events that will alter each of their paths. The narrative is compelling enough to draw the reader along, even as it skips from one character’s point of view to another. And 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. Agent: Stephanie Cabot, Gernert Company. (June)