Monday, February 4, 2013

Julie's Review: Calling Me Home

Summary: 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.

Review: The cover of Calling Me Home, a debut novel by Julie Kibler, pretty much tells you the plot without even reading the synopsis. Forbidden love, young love, everlasting love and contentment are explored in this fine novel. I will say that until the end, it dragged a little bit for me. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop and boy did Ms. Kibler drop it. By the time I was through with the book, I was sobbing.

I love how the story is told in Ms. Isabelle's flashbacks and then from Dorrie's point of view in the present. You get a real sense of each woman through their told stories. Sure, Ms. Isabelle is really liked in the first couple of chapter flashbacks but then you begin to realize that while she was naive, she was truly, madly, deeply in love trying to do what she felt was best.

Dorrie's struggles were those of a single mom with a teenage son who wasn't acting responsibility, while trying to run her own salon and paying the bills. Plus she had just met a man who she thinks might be worthy of her time and heart but she's not sure. She's had a history of choosing the wrong man.

While this book is about love and the struggles people went through for it; it is also very much a friendship story. Isabelle trusted Dorrie enough to take a long road trip and to tell Dorrie her history. Dorrie started to confess her struggles with Stevie and then confessing her burgeoning relationship with a man who seems good.

This story is basically a slow simmer until you get the end of it and then someone turns up the fire. If you have the patience to stay in till the end, then Calling Me Home is for you.

Final Take: 4/5

Thanks to the Book Club and St. Martin's Press for my ARC



Beth F February 4, 2013 at 8:59 AM  

I homed in on the racial issues and the limitations of at least some women in the 1930s and 1940s.

Literate Housewife February 4, 2013 at 11:31 AM  

I finished the book early last week and what I've thought about the most since then is about Dorrie and Isabelle's friendship. It's so nice that you're never too old to grow close to another person.

BookBagLady February 4, 2013 at 11:38 AM  

I agree that Calling Me Home is also very much a story of friendship. The coming together of Isabelle and Dorrie was truly a beautiful thing to witness as they opened up and began to trust each other.

Thanks for a great review!

(Book BagLady)

Lisa (Southern Girl Reads) February 4, 2013 at 2:39 PM  

I really enjoyed this book so much. The characters were so real and believable. I'm looking forward to some great discussions!

Jaime Boler February 4, 2013 at 7:14 PM  

Great review, Julie! This was a really emotional read for me, too.

Michelle Shannon February 7, 2013 at 9:38 PM  

Great review! I like how you balanced the positives and negatives of the plot!

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