- Hardcover: 325 pages
- Publisher: St Martins Pr (12 February 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1250014522
- ISBN-13: 978-1250014528
- Product Dimensions: 16.4 x 3.1 x 24.3 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 522 g
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
Calling Me Home Hardcover – 12 Feb 2013
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About the Author
JULIE KIBLER began writing Calling Me Home after learning a bit of family lore: as a young woman, her grandmother fell in love with a young black man in an era and locale that made the relationship impossible. When not writing, she enjoys travel, independent films, music, photography, and corralling her teenagers and rescue dogs. She lives in Arlington, Texas. Calling Me Home is her debut.
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Isabelle McAllister is 90 years old, lives in a small town in Texas. Like any 90 year old she has a story or two to tell. Over a ten year period, she has developed a close friendship with her hairdresser, Dorrie, a black woman in her 30s. One day Isabelle asks Dorrie to drive her from Texas to Cincinnati, Ohio - a journey of some days - so Isabelle can attend a funeral. The resulting road trip, which would appear to be most unusual venture - elderly white woman being driven across coutnry by young black woman - draws its fair share of comment and feedback from those they encounter on the way. But it does allow Isabelle to tell her story of forbidden love. Dorrie, a single parent, meanwhile has her own problems with her teenage son, and trying to find the courage to trust what appears to finally be a decent man in her life.
Isabelle's story, beginning in 1939, is riveting, Dorrie's not so much. In fact compared to the social mores of 1939, Dorrie really has nothing to complain about, and by the end of the book she has finally woken her ideas up, sorted herself and her family out. Whew. She really needed to give herself a kick in the pants! But Isabelle, wow she was quite something. As a teenager she falls madly in love with Robert, the teenage son of the family's housekeeper, Cora. Robert and his younger sister Nell, have grown up with Isabelle, whose father is the local doctor. It goes without saying that the ramifications of the love affair are huge, and the funeral being attended by Isabelle and Dorrie now, in 2013, is directly linked to these two families.
There is a lot going on in this story, and it would have been good to have some back story on Robert and his family, as well as Dorrie's family and her love interest. I can imagine black/white relations in 1939 Kentucky being pretty grim, and the writer certainly pulls no punches in her descriptions of these times. She has based the novel on her own grandmother's impossible love affair with a young black man, and it is Isabelle's story which holds the whole book together. Well worth reading, and it would make a fabulous movie/TV series.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
This novel was character driven, heartfelt, wholesome, and with just the right amount of description. Kibler relied heavily on character interaction and conversation to bring out the complications of love, family relations, and race relations. I loved the way, in the accounts of both generations, she wisely painted how two close friends, without race issues in their hearts, misunderstand that there were. It's relevant to today where, when we are not vocal, but remain kindly silent, we are sometimes misunderstood and are opening accused of thinking like others who are "like" us.
This is a story of forbidden love. Isabelle, a young, white woman, falls in love with a black man in the forties, in the south, for all the right reasons. He's intelligent, engaged with the world, humble, kind, hard-working, sensitive, protective, and loyal. His qualities are unmatched by any white suitors acceptable to her family.
Isabelle asks Dorrie, her black hair dresser, to take her to Cincinnati to a funeral. During their trip, Kibler switches between the present in Dorrie's first person point of view and Isabelle's heartbreaking past, also in first person. By mobile phone, Dorrie, a single mom, deals with a crisis with her two teenagers and tries to trust her new love interest to help her. As Isabelle relates the prejudices of the past, the two women are forced to interact with the prejudices of today at restaurants and hotels.
Everything is eventually tied up beautifully, all questions answered. Love that!
It's just so, so good.
This was an emotionally difficult book for me to read. It has always amazed me "man's inhumanity to someone different." This book does a wonderful job of telling the story of that time in our history and the pain of prejudice.