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.
Miss Isabelle, Present Day
I ACTED HATEFUL to Dorrie the first time we met, a decade or so ago. A person gets up in years and she forgets to use her filters. Or she's beyond caring. Dorrie thought I didn't care for the color of her skin. No truth to that at all. Yes, I was angry, but only because my beauty operatorhairdresser they call them these days, or stylist, which sounds so uppityleft with no notice. I walked all the way into the shop, which is no small effort when you're old, and the girl at the counter told me my regular girl had quit. While I stood there blinking my eyes, fit to be tied, she studied the appointment book. With a funny smile, she said, "Dorrie has an opening. She could do you almost right away."
Presently, Dorrie called me over, and certainly, her looks surprised meshe was the only African-American in the place, as far as I could tell. But here was the real problem: change. I didn't like it. People who didn't ...
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).
Full Review (593 words).
Don't let the sun set on YOU.
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 an estimate cites that at one point there were several thousand across the United States, and ...
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