Book Review: Calling Me Home By Julie Kibler

CALLING ME HOME

By: Julie Kibler

Published: February 12, 2013

Fiction

If I could, I would give Julie Kibler an Oscar, a high five, a hug, and a round of applause for her debut novel.  It really was a truly wonderful book and I am happy to share it with you.

In CALLING ME HOME, we are introduced to two women who are unlikely friends but will come to depend on each other under life-changing circumstances. Isabelle is an eighty-nine-year-old white woman who has her hair done every week by Dorrie, a thirty-something black, single mom. Through alternating chapters we are told Isabelle’s story and Dorrie’s story.  We are taken back to Isabelle’s years growing up as the daughter of a doctor in the late 1930’s in Kentucky. In the next chapter we are introduced to Dorrie’s life in present day Texas.  Over the years, Isabelle and Dorrie have become more than just hair-dresser and client and Isabelle comes to rely on Dorrie’s friendship. Surprisingly Dorrie also relies on Isabelle’s quiet wisdom. Early in the story, Isabelle must ask Dorrie a huge favor, to drop everything and drive her all the way to Cincinnati for a funeral.  As Dorrie drives, Isabelle’s story comes to life and we learn Isabelle, as a teen, fell in love with the son of their family’s maid in a community where blacks and whites didn’t mix and weren’t even allowed in the community after dark. As Isabelle and Robert’s relationship grows, their lives become much more complicated than either one of them could imagine.  As Dorrie hears Isabelle’s story, her mind is occupied with her own struggles. Her nearly adult son has made some poor choices and Dorrie must decide how best to guide him.  She is also trying to decide if she can trust the new man in her life and if she wants to let him into her heart. The two women have no idea what the impact of this trip will be on both of them and the choices they have yet to make.

I shed a lot of tears reading this story.  The deep love that is shared,  the fear, the anger, and the hatred of the people during the 1930’s really put you into the emotion of the era.  Kibler has done her research and included bits of her own personal family history in writing this novel and it truly shows in the care she took in telling this story.  You will find yourself sympathizing with characters and hating others.  You will drop your jaw, dry your tears, and definitely laugh out loud.

One of the unique ways the author uses to tell the story is through crossword puzzle clues as Dorrie and Isabelle are traveling.  I found this such a neat way to incorporate a fun, original detail to the story and now I want to pick up a crossword and complete it.

I have two favorite lines from the book that I think showcase the author’s wonderful way of painting the scene and emotion of the story.  Both lines come from Isabelle’s story and I think I can share them without giving away too much.

And Robert would be nothing more than a boy I’d once tickled in the rain. Page 74

One wedding was in bitter January. The second was in late, bright spring. 
My mood had been spring the previous January, and was January that spring. Page 266

This was our book club choice for the month and I highly recommend it to other book clubs. Target also chose it as their Book Club Pick for January 2014.  The paperback version comes with discussion questions if needed, but I expect members would find plenty to talk about without them.  Topics such as racism (past and present), family loyalty, and forbidden love can keep you talking for hours.  I could also easily see this book played out in a movie and I would rush to see it. 
If you love stories that combine the past with the present, historical fiction, drama, and romance then CALLING ME HOME should be at the top of your list of books to read.  This is my favorite book so far this year! 
Julie Kibler – source

Julie Kibler grew up in various towns in Kentucky, New Mexico, and Colorado, then moved to Texas to attend college and stayed because even the strangers were friendly. Aside from writing, she is a freelance editor and tries to keep up with her family and a couple of shelter dogs who don’t always appreciate their rescue. She enjoys reading, indie films, folk music, photography and splitting chocolatey desserts with her husband, an engineer who doesn’t understand writers, but understands chocolate. She is currently writing her next novel.

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1 Comment

  1. Diana on February 27, 2014 at 1:42 pm

    Awesome review! Loved the book!

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