Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler is a soaring debut interweaving the story of a heartbreaking, forbidden love in 1930s Kentucky with an unlikely modern-day friendship.
Eighty-nine-year-old Isabelle McAllister has a favor to ask her hairdresser Dorrie Curtis. It's a big one. Isabelle wants Dorrie, a black single mom in her thirties, to drop everything to drive her from her home in Arlington, Texas, to a funeral in Cincinnati. With no clear explanation why. Tomorrow.
Dorrie, fleeing problems of her own and curious whether she can unlock the secrets of Isabelle's guarded past, scarcely hesitates before agreeing, not knowing it will be a journey that changes both their lives.
Over the years, Dorrie and Isabelle have developed more than just a business relationship. They are friends. But Dorrie, fretting over the new man in her life and her teenage son's irresponsible choices, still wonders why Isabelle chose her.
Isabelle confesses that, as a willful teen in 1930s Kentucky, she fell deeply in love with Robert Prewitt, a would-be doctor and the black son of her family's housekeeper - in a town where blacks weren't allowed after dark. The tale of their forbidden relationship and its tragic consequences makes it clear Dorrie and Isabelle are headed for a gathering of the utmost importance and that the history of Isabelle's first and greatest love just might help Dorrie find her own way.
Calling Me Home is an outstanding debut novel! Alternating between the present and 1930/40s, the author draws you into the lives and conversations between an elderly white woman and a young black hairdresser as they drive from Texas to Ohio. Both women have secrets that they have guarded but end up sharing with each other. In reading the novel, issues such as race, love, family, and segregation are dealt with in a sensitive manner. (Reviewed by BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers).
Kibler handles decades of race relations with sensitivity and finds a nice balance between the characters of Dorrie and Isabelle. Drawing from her own family history in Texas, Kibler relays a familiar story in a fresh way.
Kibler's unsentimental eye makes the problems faced unflinchingly by these women ring true. Love and family defy the expected in this engaging tale.
In Calling Me Home, Kibler has crafted a wholly original debut. . . . There’s no denying the pull of Kibler’s story.
New York Times bestselling author Diane Chamberlain
You'd never guess that Calling Me Home is a debut novel, Julie Kibler's writing is so wise and assured. Although the two strong women she's created come from completely different backgrounds, the bond that grows between them is extraordinary, touching and believable. I laughed out loud in places and had tears in my eyes as I turned the last page. I can't wait to watch Julie Kibler's star rise!
Margaret Dilloway, author of How to Be an American Housewife
Clear your schedule before you open up this thoroughly engaging book. Calling Me Home is a story about love in its many incarnations - in romance, friendships, and families; loves lost, and love regained. Kibler illuminates racial tensions many of us don't realize still exist in this country, and shows how small acts of faith can make big inroads to acceptance. I closed the final page with a smile and a tear, humbled and eager to embrace life.
Carleen Brice, author of Orange Mint and Honey
Pop some corn and grab a hankie before you start Calling Me Home because you won't want to put it down until you come to the end of this true journey of the heart.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Louise J Calling Me Home I really enjoyed the way this story was told in alternating voices between Dorrie and Isabelle. Isabelle’s chapters are told in the first person with memories of her childhood whereas Dorrie’s chapters deal with present day occurrences.... Read More
Rated of 5
by Jean N. (New Richmond, OH) Journey of the Heart I am glad that I read this book. For me, it was slow getting started, but I soon became hooked by the story of these two unlikely friends.
The relationships and memories of Miss Isabelle brought this painful period to life in a very heartfelt... Read More
Rated of 5
by Mary Q. (Greeley, CO) Calling Me Home This is a book with two distinct story lines. Its chapters flip back and forth between present time and 70 years ago, but there is no confusion or difficulty in following the time line. The entire book is engaging and very well written, and I was... Read More
Rated of 5
by Sarah N. (Corte Madera, CA) Julie Kibler called me home! Everytime I had to care for my family and set the book down, I was sad. I kept returning to the book as quickly as I could. I really liked the character development as well as the characters themselves. I was intrigued by the mystery and feeling... Read More
Rated of 5
by Sandra S. (Charlotte, NC) A moving story A cross country car ride brings two unlikely friends closer than they thought possible. The story Miss Isabelle shares is a bittersweet tale that will move anyone who picks up the book. It's a great read and I recommend it.
Rated of 5
by Vivian T. (Charleston, WV) A stirring read Very rarely does a book touch me so much that I wind up in tears at the end, but Calling Me Home was just such a book. Isabelle and Robert's story, although in the past, was presented as if actually happening. The young Isabelle was easy to... Read More
This is typical wording on a sign at the edge of what was called a "sundown town", which gained its name because these towns required people of color to leave their perimeters – not surprisingly – by sundown. These towns, found throughout the USA not just in the South, were explicitly all-white towns. Sometimes the segregation was created by actual town policy, sometimes through restrictive covenants created and maintained by real estate brokers, and sometimes by sheer intimidation from local town employees like police officers and even regular citizens. It is not clear how many of these towns existed but one estimation cites that at one point there were several thousand across the United States, and the state of Illinois had the most within its borders.
Since the Civil Rights Act of 1968, sundown towns cannot...
Kenn Nesbitt is new Children's Poet Laureate(Jun 12 2013) Kenn Nesbitt has been named the new Children's Poet Laureate: Consultant in Children's Poetry to the Poetry Foundation, which noted that the two-year position...