We Are Called to Rise

So, I’ve been working on this blog post for a while now and it never quite felt right. Originally, I was simple going to write this as a book review, tell you about a cool book I read with a quick life lesson and that would be that. But it’s the life lesson that I really want to focus on.

I read We Are Called to Rise by Laura McBride. It’s a good story. She dives into the first-person perspective of different characters and allows the reader to feel their emotions. I’ve read many books where authors try this tactic and in my opinion don’t really hit the mark. McBride on the other hand, does this very well. Each character has a different voice and personality that you can hear in the writing. You can tell when you are reading from the perspective of the 8 year-old immigrant boy, middle-age divorcee, or the injured military vet – as you should.

We Are Called to Rise is one of the stories where they all end up connected in the end. One tragic moment in time changes their lives. While reading this particular scene, I almost wanted to shout at each of character, “Hang on, you don’t understand. This person went through that, and that person is feeling this so that’s why they are acting like that.”

I started explaining this in my previous draft of this blog post, and it made me stop and think. I just recently wanted to shout the same thing while reading comments on my social media feeds. The other day I was scrolling through Facebook reading snarky, rude, nasty comments. Some of these comments were in response to a friend or a family member who I knew was going through something; there was a larger story behind their original posts. Then there were others that were just generally rude. I just wanted to stand up with my arms outstretched protecting all of my loved ones from more anguish like a protective mama bear.

Between politics and an overwhelming intake of media, our emotions are high. We are all filled with so much negative energy. Yes, social media platforms seem to increase this frustrated mob mentality, but we can’t blame it solely as the reason why we communicate so horribly with each other. It’s our choice to respond the way we respond. It’s our choice to publish that post with a sarcastic tone, or respond with ridicule. That’s on us. Yes, I include myself in this. I am not perfect either.

We need to take a second to really consider the other people we are talking to. We all work, go to school, deal with traffic, pay bills, … and have all of these other stressors in life. Life is hard completely on its own. Why must we add to that stress and anguish even more by trashing other people?

No, I am not asking for a “safe space.” Let’s talk differences of opinions and learn about new perspectives, but let’s do so with respect.

Yes, sometimes we ourselves are already frustrated for whatever reason and sometimes we can’t stop that frustration from coming out in our tone even if the person we are talking to has nothing to do with the thing that frustrated us to begin with. That’s human nature. But let’s take responsibility for this and make a conscious effort to take a breath before responding, not responding at all or apologize when we realize we said it the wrong way.  

I truly believe there are billions of us in this world, not so that we act as hurdles ready to tear each other down, but so we can act as support beams to lift each other up. Think about what this world would look like if we did that. Like the title of the book, we ARE called to rise. 

Just my thoughts for the day. Okay rant over.  Enjoy the rest of your week!

 

If you do get some time check out We Are Called to Rise. It is a great read.

 

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American Drifter

American Drifter. I found this book after looking up Chad Michael Murray one day. I’ve been re-watching a few episodes of One Tree Hill to reminisce and I wondered whatever happened to the beloved actor that played Lucas Scott. Of course I went to the web and discovered he had a book out.

Chad Michael Murray is the co-author of American Drifter with Heather Graham. I had to read this!!

American Drifter is about a veteran who served in the Middle East. He’s a bit war torn struggling with nightmares and emotional stressors. River finds solace in Rio de Janiero and travels around with only a backpack.

One Tree Hill fans will remember the way Lucas Scott was so eloquent with his words and book quotes. Reading American Drifter you can almost hear that same tone of colorful descriptions and romantic imagery. Best yet, the audio version is narrated by Chad Michael Murray himself. Fans can enjoy the same rustic voice they fawned over during the show as they listen to the story.

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The writing draws you in capturing the beauty that is Brazil. The traveler in me swoons. It’s majestic and romantic. It’s harsh with dangerous edges. Rio is home to wonderful natives and travelers alike. With this book, Rio de Janiero and the Christ the Redeemer statue becomes an absolute MUST on the travel bucket list.

The story takes off a bit slow as it creates the scene allowing the reader to become attached to River’s character, and develop a picture of his surroundings. For me, it worked. I loved hearing more about Brazil. For others, it may take a minute to get hooked but this is one of those you want to stick with to the end. Don’t put it down just yet.

American Drifter will take you for a ride. There are memories of bombs, romance and love, carefree adventures, drug dealers, and high speed chases. It’s fresh and different from anything I’ve read recently.

I read a lot so generally I can guess endings to most stories. They always follow the same themes. This time, I thought I had the ending pinged. But then American Drifter took quite a plot twist. It was intriguing and jaw dropping. It’s one of those where you finally put the book down in shock. I loved it! However, after reading I read a few other reviews for this and discovered quite a few people didn’t like the ending. It was too much of a curve-ball for them. I can understand that. I liked it because it was so different and unexpected. It’s all a matter of opinion and what you are expecting to read.

All in all I really enjoyed this book. With that said, I had a biases from the get go.

First, knowing it was Chad Michael Murray I knew I was going to at least somewhat like it. I’ve never read any of Heather Graham’s other books, but I may need to do so in order to see how Murray’s involvement impacted the writing. It was obviously a smart marketing move for whoever decided to put the authors together – to get those like me to pick it up for Murray’s name.

Also, Rio de Janiero has been on my dream travel list for a long time now. So of course I swooned. The book tells a lot about the history of Brazil describes the culture and mentions a few tourist attractions. It all sounds gorgeous. However, I haven’t taken the trip yet, so I can’t acclaim to how truthful the writing is. If you’ve traveled to Rio or are from Brazil, read the book and let me know.

Either way read it and let me know what you think. American Drifter is currently only available in hard copy or audio book. I found mine at my local library, but it’s one I’ll most likely purchase a copy to keep.

Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver

This month my friends and I read Animal Dreams. We all enjoyed the book, but we found it difficult to explain the plot-line or summarize the what of the story to other individuals.

Frankly, it’s quite a read. Barbara Kingsolver dives into the human experience. The story begins very obscure, and well a bit odd. But that is true to Kingsolver’s writing style – obscure, interesting, and extraordinarily thought-provoking.

The story revolves around Codi. She moves back to her hometown to check in with her ailing father. At the very beginning you learn a few things about Codi, she feels out of place in her own skin, she considers herself an orphan and she had a miscarriage at the age of 15.

Kingsolver takes us on a journey with Codi as she explores the ideas of family connections, love, dreams, trauma, death and the essence of home. Codi has to come to terms with her past. Remember it, accept it and let it go. Only in doing so can she accept love and find a sense of purpose and home. It’s the ultimate “What am I, why am I here, where in the world do I belong, how can I keep living despite the hardships …” exploration.

I truly enjoyed this book as I have of Kingsolver’s other great novels. However, the ending seemed rushed and incomplete.

***Potential Spoiler Ahead***

Kingsolver does a beyond fantastic job in setting up the story allowing the reader to deep dive into Codi’s mind. Through almost 300 pages of despair, and what can only be described as depression, all of sudden, out of nowhere, Codi sees the light in a sense.

I re-read and re-read Codi’s euphoria moment probably 3-5 times wondering if I missed some powerful meaning somewhere. I didn’t. And I’m not alone in this assessment. The story-line set the reader up for a couple crucial conversations that never occurred, or that the reader doesn’t have the chance to experience. There were a few questions left unanswered.

Again though I did enjoy it. It’s one that makes you think, question and re-consider. A great story for a book club for sure. It allowed us to explore the literary elements while sharing our personal experiences on family traditions, deaths and relationships.

If you’ve read it, let me know what you think. Only $9.80 on Amazon here.

Book Club has Begun!

Book clubs! It’s a fun way to spend time with friends. Regardless of hectic schedules, we must take the time to devote to the amazing people in our lives.

Recently, my friend decided she wanted to start a book club. We needed to stop thinking about planning a girl’s night and actually make this happen. And why not read a great story while we are at it?

I’m definitely what you would describe as a “book lover.” Or maybe book addict is more fitting. Any member of my family has a story of my younger self with a book in my face as a child.

As you can guess, I’m excited. I get to read and connect with friends sharing perspectives on stories. And I intend to share with you!

Check out this blog each month for my book addict’s hit or miss list. We’ll read stories of inspiration, adventure, romance and more. I’ll give you my perspective, and you can share yours. Any genre can / will be selected.

Now Reading: Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver