Book Recommendation: Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler
Published February 12, 2013 by St. Martin’s Press, 336 pages
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.
It never fails to rock me to the core when I read stories that involve racism, bigotry, along with an unhealthy concoction of ignorance and prejudice. Isabelle’s story grasped every emotion with each comfort , each hardship, and everything in between. As many of you know, I love my historical fiction and I, of course, loved reading the chapters narrated by Isabelle. I was transported back in time, feeling what she felt and seeing it all in my mind’s eye. Dorrie’s story, told in present day, was important to show the contrast between her life and Isabelle’s past and Julie did a nice job of weaving the two together. I did, however, have a hard time relating to Dorrie and I just didn’t connect with her as much as I did with Isabelle. Again, that’s probably the historical fiction lover in me at work.
I think I’m with the majority of others who’ve read this story when I say I cried throughout most of the last sixty pages. I can’t say why without spoiling the ending but let me just say it’s worth the read and I’m very impressed that it was her debut novel. I’ve read about Julie’s inspiration for writing the story, which you can read by clicking here, which gives the story so much more weight for me. It’s that “what if” and the creation of something amazing out of a sliver of information that appeals to me. This book serves as a wonderful reminder to follow your heart whenever and however you can. It’s worth fighting for.
*This Advanced Readers’ Copy was provided to me by St. Martin’s Press through the She Reads Blog Network program. All opinions are my own.