2017-05-12 / Family

Camarillo Reads author to visit city for annual event

‘We Are Called to Rise’ tells inspirational story
By Anne Kallas
Special to the Acorn


COMING TO TOWN— Laura McBride’s novel “We Are Called to Rise” is the selected title for the sixth annual Camarillo Reads: One City, One Book event, which will be Sun., May 21 at the Camarillo Public Library. 
Photograph by Michelle Adams;courtesy of Laura McBride COMING TO TOWN— Laura McBride’s novel “We Are Called to Rise” is the selected title for the sixth annual Camarillo Reads: One City, One Book event, which will be Sun., May 21 at the Camarillo Public Library. Photograph by Michelle Adams;courtesy of Laura McBride It’s a book club, and the entire city is invited to join.

Camarillo residents will have a chance to share their thoughts on the novel “We Are Called to Rise,” by Laura McBride, during the sixth annual Camarillo Reads: One City, One Book event May 21 at the Camarillo Public Library.

McBride, 55, said she was especially looking forward to visiting Camarillo from her Las Vegas home because she wants to meet Connie Halpern, owner of Mrs. Figs’ Bookworm.

“Connie Halpern is one of those readers who loved my books. But she said things to me about my own writing that I’ve written down and put on my desk. She captured something about me I hadn’t imagined,” McBride said.

Halpern is one of the organizers of the Camarillo Reads event, which is sponsored by the Friends of the Camarillo Library. She said she was flattered that McBride held her comments in such high regard.

“I didn’t make them up to make her feel good. Her writing is incredible. I have several customers who have said ‘We Are Called to Rise’ is one of the best books they’ve ever read,” Halpern said.

She said the community benefits from the exchange of perspectives and ideas the Camarillo Reads event promotes.

“I am a book person . . . and I truly believe the written word can change lives,” Halpern said.

“We Are Called to Rise” is the story of four strangers whose lives come together during one tragic moment. It’s based on the true story of an Albanian woman who was shot and killed by police in front of her children and husband while operating the family’s ice cream truck in Las Vegas in 2008.

It is McBride’s second novel. Her first, completed soon after she graduated from Yale University in 1984, received little attention, which led her to pursue a career in education.

She wouldn’t publish her second book until 30 years later.

While teaching writing at the College of Southern Nevada, McBride took a sabbatical in 2011 and ended up writing the novel in less than four months.

“The (book’s premise) is based on something that happened in Las Vegas. I didn’t research at all. I just took the outline of the events and made up a story,” McBride said. “I thought of it as a writing exercise. I wanted a challenge, a creative experience.”

Having earned a fellowship to the Yaddo artists retreat in upstate New York, McBride was introduced to a literary agent who helped sell the book to Simon & Schuster, which published the novel in 2014.

“I was just published easily and quickly without even a query letter. I don’t know the life lesson of that. I know this book is a product of my whole life—learning, teaching,” said the author, who has since written a third novel, “’Round Midnight.”

Justin Formanek, adult services librarian at the Camarillo Public Library, said he proposed “We Are Called to Rise” because the issues in the book are timely.

“It addresses immigration, PTSD and police violence. It was a book that could have gotten mired down in its own darkness. But it still managed to find a way to have an uplifting, optimistic ending,” Formanek said.

In addition to the “We Are Called to Rise” event there are companion Camarillo Reads programs for young people.

Children ages 8 to 12 are invited to read “Every Soul a Star,” by Wendy Mass.

Discussions will be from 4 to 5 p.m. Thursdays in May in the children’s area during Guards of Reading book club.

Teens from 13 to 18 are encouraged to read “The Impossible Knife of Memory,” by Laurie Halse Anderson. Discussion will be during the Teen Book Club at 1 p.m. Sat., May 20 in the homework center.

The book discussion and signing of “We Are Called to Rise” with McBride will take place at the library from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Sun., May 21. Her book will be available for sale.

Another discussion of “We Are Called to Rise” will be held from 7 to 8 p.m. May 25 at the Thursday evening book club at the library.

The Camarillo Public Library is at 4101 Las Posas Road.

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