Thursday, July 10, 2014

"We Are Called to Rise"

Laura McBride is a writer and community college teacher in Las Vegas, Nevada. She once thought of herself as an adventurer, having traveled far from home on little more than a whim and a grin, but now laughs at the conventional trappings of her ordinary suburban life.

She applied the Page 69 Test to We Are Called to Rise, her first novel, and reported the following:
From page 69:
I am getting tired of writing, and I can see that my nene is getting a little sad, so I decide to ask just one more question. I can put something in the other spaces later, because I pretty much know the answers.

“Question seven: How is your origin country similar to the United States?”

“People in America always ask what religion I am. I don’t like to say Muslim, because Americans don’t like Muslims. But I don’t want to say I am not Muslim, because that is disrespectful to my baba. In America, people think that they are the only ones who have many religions together. But in Albania, half the people are Muslim and half the people are Christian. And nobody is worried about this. We don’t care if someone Christian marries someone Muslim. I think people in America worry about that more.”

I write down: Half the people in Albania are Christians. Albanians accept many religions, like Americans do.
We Are Called to Rise is set in contemporary Las Vegas, and weaves together the lives of an eight-year Albanian boy, a middle-aged woman trying to make sense of her life, and a young Hispanic soldier, who went straight to Iraq from high school. It’s a boomtown tale – about the sorts of things that can happen when millions of people pour into a small rural state, when that place is not ready for them, when they come from all over the world, from all sorts of backgrounds, for all sorts of reasons.

In this excerpt, the little boy asks his mother some questions about her home country, for a school assignment. The little boy both abbreviates and alters his mother’s answers, because he knows how those answers will sound in his American classroom, and because he wants to protect her. I think the page captures something of the little boy’s predicament, and of his sincerity and sweetness. It does not much hint at the explosive actions that will soon envelop him, his mother, the soldier, and the woman ... but they are coming.
Visit Laura McBride's website.

--Marshal Zeringue