Calling Me Home Author:Julie Kibler 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 every... more »thing 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.« less
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Julie Kibler's debut novel tackles many themes common to Southern fiction: race relations; interracial marriage; family secrets; and unexpected friendship. The story is split between a present-day road trip from Arlington, Texas, to Cincinnati for 30-something Dorrie and almost-90 Isabelle, and a flashback to Isabelle's coming of age in the 1930s. Of particular interest is an explanation of the "sundown" law in Isabelle's small Kentucky town which prohibited blacks in town after dark. Interestingly, these laws were in no way limited to just the South but were found as far west as California in the 1930s. I like the way this book compared and contrasted race relations between Isabelle's "then" and Dorrie and Isabelle's "now," but - at the same time - there was something lacking for me and I never felt fully engaged. Despite this sentiment, I believe Julie Kibler is a fine writer and I look forward to reading her future books.