Winners of Review Contest-2015

With a title like “We Are Called To Rise,” the reader expects to be challenged. Upon meeting Avis, the reader feels like an intruder observing the awkwardness of her attempt to rescue a marriage that is lost to her. Then as we learn that Avis has already overcome an abusive childhood and the loss of a child, one wonders what else should she have to face … how far must she rise? Seeing herself as an imposter in a world she did not understand exposes the depth from which Avis climbed, and as we all do, she faltered on her path when she choose not to report her son’s spousal abuse. As Avis tries to protect her son from himself, she compromises herself, and until she corrects the course of her own moral compass, her life will continue to tailspin.

— Jacquie Billings-Barlow


I found all four voices easy to understand and also compelling. The voice of Avis stood out for me as the easiest one with which to relate. I think the reason is that she spoke as a spouse in a broken marriage and as a parent of children is distress, both roles in which I have found myself.

During my trials, I often found it hard to articulate my own distress or even to notice the little things going on around me. Laura McBride spoke through her character Avis of the tiny pieces of experience making up the totality of her existence. She also shared graphic inner reflections, seemingly minute, but keenly expressive of the crazy little thoughts which plague us under duress.

I found that this experience allowed me to look into my own soul, reconsider my experience and rise from my own ashes.

— Joseph Langen


My closest connection in the book “We Are Called To Rise,” is with Avis. We both married for “better or worse.” Avis and I were dedicated homemakers. We never dreamed that our husbands would stray, find comfort in someone else and leave us alone. All our dreams for the future were crushed. We both wondered how we would survive without our soul mate. Avis move to a new home. I moved to a new another state with my young daughter to start our life anew. I did not have to encounter a situation such as Nate’s but do know that I too would do anything to help my child. We both are “strong” women and have the desire to make the world a better place even when encountering adversity.

— Barbara Rumsey


Roberta is the character in Laura McBrides’s novel, We Are Called to Rise, that I

most closely identify with.  Roberta’s humanity and passion for children in the

foster system deeply resonate with me, as a CASA volunteer and child of the foster

system myself.  Roberta recognizes that her position and efforts can seem futile.

But she also realizes the importance of rising above a seemingly insurmountable

situation and finding a solution.  That solution may seem flawed and idealistic to

many readers, but to this reader, it was both a simple AND complex one.  Why

should it be considered impossible and unattainable that Roberta could facilitate a

union between Bashkim and Luis?  Roberta says, “the beauty of being a CASA is

that I’m always on the right side, defender of the children”.  Thus, it is Roberta’s

philosophy that will continue to guide me as an individual and CASA volunteer.

— Mary Catherine Contant


Laura McBride wanted to write a story that was unbearably sad, but still left us readers wanting to wake up in the morning. Sad it was, at times so sad it took my breath away. For instance when Luis got the bundle of letters from Bashkim, or when Nene was shot.  The characters are captivating; I needed to know what happen to each of them.   Each one was able to “rise” above the sadness.  Baba realized he wasn’t yet able to care for the children, Abuela will make a wonderful foster mother and Luis will face life with the purpose of helping Bashkim. Nate will get help, and Avis will not only know that she did the right thing, but that she is a good mother.  Bashkim will be there for his sister and help his father and Luis back to good health.  It is the hope that comes from helping each other that keeps us going in our sad and tragic world.

— Liz Saleh


I was most able to identify with Roberta.  I have been a CASA volunteer since 2008.

The initial interaction between Roberta and the case worker concerning the children being in two foster homes illustrates possible conflicts between CASA and social services .Of course it would be best to have both of the children in the same foster home, but the reality was spelled out by Lacey.  The CASA volunteer needs to be very sensitive to the workload and the realities faced by a case worker.

Roberta was very thorough in the listing of persons familiar with the children.  I have found once people realize you have been appointed by the Family Court Judge, they are more willing to share their observations.  Her visits to the children showed compassion and empathy.

After visiting Sadik, the question of where the children should be placed was confronted.  Roberta’s quandry of “But what is right?” was not easily answered.  That is the reality of being a CASA worker. Their creative answer tried to be sensitive to all parties. I would love to know how it worked  out!

— Peggy Lamb

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