Commentary
5:00 am
Mon June 30, 2014

Books To Make You Feel

Salman Rushdie said, “literature opened the mysterious and decisive doors of imagination and understanding. To see the way others see. To think the way others think. And above all, to feel.”

Two new novels will grab you at your core, getting hold of your empathy, sympathy and humanity, as only good stories can.

We are Called to Rise by Laura McBride is narrated by four characters tragically hitting bottom. Set in residential Las Vegas—a character in itself—Avis' marriage is suddenly kaput, as her son Nate returns from his third tour in Iraq. Roberta is a court-appointed advocate for children, and Specialist Luis Rodriquez-Reyes is hospitalized in Walter Reed, injured and traumatized. The brutal details of the downfall of each are vivid. When their lives intersect, McBride tests their ability to love and forgive. The title, taken from an Emily Dickinson poem, hints at the commitment we must have to ourselves in order to transform our lives from tragedy to triumph.

In Flying Shoes, Lisa Howorth draws on the abduction and murder of her younger brother when he was nine. Her genius is that she weaves the tragedy into a bigger story of a small Southern town, spinning tales of myriad characters whose lives intersect with the tough, quick-thinking Mary Byrd Thornton. As Mary Byrd narrates the novel with humor and meandering Southern storytelling, she becomes a friend you want to have around forever. I miss her still.

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