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Calling Me Home

by Julie Kibler

Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler X
Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2013, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2014, 352 pages

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Power Reviewer
Cloggie Downunder

An impressive debut.
Calling Me Home is the first novel by American author, Julie Kibler. When eighty-nine-year-old Miss Isabelle asks her black hairdresser, Dorrie to drive her from Texas to Ohio, Dorrie realises it must be for a very good reason. Single mother of a teenaged boy and girl, Dorrie welcomes the break from her busy life and the new man on the scene who seems too good to be true. As they head toward Cincinnati, and what Dorrie gathers to be a funeral, Miss Isabelle shares memories of her life as a young woman in a very white Kentucky community. A life with a forceful mother for whom appearance was everything, a liberal-minded father too cautious to take a public stand, a pair of arrogant, racist brothers and black servants who were more family to Isabelle than her own kin. She also reveals her first love, her one true love.

The narrative is alternates between two time periods: the events of 1940s are told by Miss Isabelle; the present day happenings are related by Dorrie, touching on the road trip and the dramas of her own family life as well as forming a break from Miss Isabelle’s story and reflecting on that. Kibler’s novel deals with racial discrimination, segregation and intermarriage, as well as sexual discrimination. Her characters are multi-faceted and appealing and her representation of 1940’s Ohio feels authentic. Often funny, and at times, heartbreaking, this is a heart-warming story with a surprise twist near the end. An impressive debut.
Noel Keller

My first New Year's Gift
I began this book two days ago and never put it down. It is a terrific read and leaves you with much to think about. That is after you put the tissues down....
Beverly F. Mindlin

Calling Me Home
This book is so charming that when I finished it I wanted to read it again. It is a story of friendship and trust that develops as two women – one black and one white – take a trip of a lifetime – one into her future and one into her past. I highly recommend it.
Power Reviewer
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.

Calling Me Home is a novel of friendship, bonding, trust, sharing confidences, part love story, learning to let go, hope for the future and an end to the past. Julie Kibler’s debut novel, in my opinion, will become a big hit and I expect to see it on the bestseller lists within a relatively short time. Thank you, Julie for writing a story that evoked so many emotions in me and one I won’t soon forget. I’ll always carry a piece of Miss Isabelle and Dorrie with me for a long time to come.
Calling Me Home is also the perfect title for this novel and once you’ve read it, you’ll understand why. Well-done!!
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 for their dilemmas.
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 right there with the events occurring the whole book through. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would highly recommend it to any of my contemporaries, as well as those younger or older. I can't wait for Julie Kibler's NEXT book!
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 love and it became easier to understand how she become the somewhat aloof elderly Isabelle of the present. Dorrie was presented as a strong character that was constantly questioning her actions and the consequences of said actions. Neither Isabelle nor Dorrie were raised with loving mothers, but the two clicked and became "family" to one another. Definitely what is expected between a young African-American woman and an elderly White woman. Their life experiences were very different but their personalities were similar in many ways. I enjoyed the way Ms. Kibler wove the past and the present together. The ending was a major surprise and resulted in a major use of tissues. I think that Wiley Cash summed this up rather nicely when stating that "If Calling Me Home were a young woman, her grandmother would be To Kill A Mockingbird, her sister would be The Help, and her cousin would be The Notebook." On the surface this is about love, society, race, and family...not just the family we are born into but those that become family to us by choice.
Shirin M. (Beverly Hills, CA)

Life's Journey
A road trip meanders through memories of the 1930s and 1940s interspersed with contemporary day-to-day issues. Told in two voices, the reader listens as the unlikely friendship between Miss Isabelle, a nonagenarian, and thirty-something Dorrie, reveals their life stories. Amidst the heartbreak and loss there is love and hope in a story that comes full cycle. The conversational tone and travel details make it a fast read. A debut novel not to be missed, especially by those who enjoy historical fiction.

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