Review: We Are Called To Rise (audio)


We Are Called to Rise
We Are Called To Rise (audio)
By Laura McBride
(Simon & Schuster Audio, ISBN 9781442370791, June 2014.)

The Short of It:

Four, seemingly independent stories collide and the results are devastating for one immigrant family.

The Rest of It:

Vegas is a town that reeks of desperation. Spend a few days there and you’ll know what I mean. In We Are Called to Rise, the Vegas we see is not what you’d expect, but rather bleak and depressing all the same. This is the suburban side, where immigrant families struggle to make ends meet, where people go to basically start a new life. The story is told in four voices:

  • Bashkim – a second grader, living with his Albanian parents and his baby sister. Bashkim’s parents own an ice cream truck and want to live the American dream, but they struggle as there is never enough money to put anything aside, and when Bashkim’s sister falls ill, a trip to the doctor pushes the father over the edge.
  • Avis – a married woman in her 50’s who has just found out about her husband’s infidelity. In addition to her marital problems, she’s struggling to understand her son Nate, a war veteran, who hasn’t been right since returning from his third tour of duty.
  • Specialist Luis Rodriguez-Reyes – he wakes up in a hospital after losing his best friend in Afghanistan. He begins a pen pal relationship with Bashkim as a class project, not realizing how entwined their lives will become.
  • Roberta –  a social worker who becomes involved with Bashkim’s family.

As you can probably guess, something terrible happens to Bashkim and his family. This is a very sad story but it’s also one of hope and renewal. The audio production was very powerful to listen to. There were times where I just had to pause and think about what just happened. The title makes you think this is a book about religion, and maybe there is a little bit of that in there, but it’s not really centered around religion at all.

Overall, it’s a book about second chances. How one small act of kindness can mean so much to an individual and how it’s possible to pick up the pieces when all is lost. I enjoyed listening to it very much and had no problem following the different story lines.

As for discussion, this would make a great book club book. There’s so much to think about and yet it’s a very accessible read. I highly recommend it.

Source: Sent to me by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

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21 Responses

  1. Sounds like a tough one — thanks for sharing.

    • Parts of it were rough to listen to. So much anguish but it is not all depressing. Very hopeful. 

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  2. this is one of my favorite books this year….you just felt for all these people!! and when the penpal relationship had just started..i remember just gasping!! I cant imagine what it must have sounded like on audio. I hope this book gains momentum in popularity..thanks for the review

    • Yes! I felt for all of them and sometimes with multiple narrators that is not always the case, but this one was done so well. 

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  3. Okay, I officially challenge you to read a totally mindless, predictable, HAPPY book! LOL

    • I don’t find happiness in happy books though. I feel better after reading depressing, dysfunctional books. Makes me grateful for what I have.

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  4. I love immigrant stories even when they’re bleak. This sounds devastating but good.

    • The audio was so well done, too. It was like it was being acted out before me and the some of the parts  just tore me up. I have had others who have read the print version say the same thing so it must be the same for print as well. 

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  5. I thought this book was super. Glad you liked it.

    • It was. I hope it gets a little more press than it’s been getting because it really deserves more of a readership. 

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  6. I loved this one, too…especially Bashkim.

    • On audio, the reader for Bashkim just broke my heart. So authentic in the telling of his story. 

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  7. This one sounds like a difficult read, but definitely worthwhile. I love that its about second chances and acts of kindness (things that we tend to not think about, not realizing just how important and effective they can be). Not sure if I’ll get to this one, but am jotting down the title just in case.

  8. Now I definitely would like to read it. I saw it around, but didn’t know much about the plot. I don’t worry about reading depressing stories, because like you said, you can appreciate your own good life afterwards, plus they seem to have incredible character studies in them, and I love those kind of books. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Didn’t Goldfinch have an Albanian in Vegas? I could be wrong.
    This sounds like one I would like; will go on my maybe-bookclub-sug list.

  10. Oh this sounds so good! I’ve had it on my WL but hadn’t heard much about it. I may have to try out the audio!

  11. This reminds me of The House of Sand and Fog–one that I loved many years ago and should probably re-read. This sounds like a heartbreaking story–I’ll be keeping my eye open for it!

  12. Yep, I’d like to read this. I’ve seen a bit of buzz but I think yours is the first review I read. Sounds fab!

    • It’s a great book but it needs a larger readership I think. Deserves one, I mean. 

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  13. Nice review. I’m glad you read this one as it was on my June list. It sounds redeeming though sad too. Not bad for a debut author.

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