Feb 4, 2013

Review: Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler (She Reads February Book Club Pick)

When 89 year old Isabelle McAllister asked Dorrie,  her African-American 'beauty operator', to accompany her from their hometown in Texas to Cincinnati for a funeral, neither one of them knew how it would go. Especially Dorrie, who was given little information from the very private elderly woman. But in the ten years Dorrie has been doing Isabelle's hair, they've developed a bond that you could call a close friendship. As a single mother, Dorrie has difficulties in her own life that did cause her some reluctance in accepting Isabelle's offer, but in the end, she couldn't let her go alone, and she decided, it may be just what she needs for herself as well.

Julie Kibler's touching debut, CALLING ME HOME is the story of two women, both coming to terms with their lives. One from the past and one in the present. Through the miles, Isabelle tells her story of growing up in the late 1930's and the difficult choices that were made both by her and, most traumatically, for her. As Isabelle's story unfolds and Dorrie's problems come to a head, these women lean on each other to come through the other side. This story is a journey neither one of them will ever forget. 

My Thoughts: (No Spoilers)

I always enjoy a story that transports me back in time. CALLING ME HOME shows how differently whites and blacks were treated in one small Kentucky town in the late 1930's and the effect it had on one particular young girl who dared to try to cross those invisible but dangerous lines. When Isabelle was telling her story, her memories were so vivid, I could clearly see her family home, her parents and brothers and I could feel the tensions that drove a wedge between them. I was instantly drawn into her story.

All of the characters were genuine, including the supporting roles of her family members. They were very believable and I felt real emotion toward them. I especially felt the disappointment Isabelle had in her father, who wasn't able to stand up to his wife, but ultimately supported his daughter the only way he knew how. I was so angry that so many secrets were kept and how much Isabelle lost out on. It stung my heart.  Though Isabelle's story was the highlight for me, I appreciated how Dorrie learned from Isabelle's experiences and was eventually able to let her guard down and allow herself the possibility for something wonderful in her own life.

The story was very well paced and the transitions between present day to the past were well thought out and enabled Dorrie's story to be told simultaneously as their road trip continued.  I felt like I was riding in the car with them.  The ending, although, not at all a surprise to me, was lovely and perfect for this story. I'll admit, I shed a few tears. This was such a quick read for me. I hated when I had to stop reading for whatever reason. I was always anxious to get back to it. Because of the many discussion points this book has, it would make a terrific pick for any book club.


Now is your chance to win a copy of this wonderful debut novel for yourself. St. Martin's Press is graciously giving away 10 copies! Simply stop by the She Reads Blog and leave a comment and include your email address. It's that easy! (Comments must be left on She Reads Blog. (Any comments left on this post DO NOT count as entries in the drawing).  A winner will be drawn this Friday, February 8th. Since the book hasn't even been released yet, you could be one of the first to read it!

I would like to thank She Reads for choosing such a wonderful book for our February selection. Please stop by the She Reads blog for many other reviews of this most deserving debut novel that will be released on February 13th.

Author: Julie Kibler (website)
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: February 13, 2013
Pages: 336 pp


  1. Great review! I like what you say about feeling as if you were in the car with them.

  2. I'm so behind - I just started this last night, but so far, I'm hooked!

  3. This one sounds like an amazing read and one that I know if I start it I will be drawn into the story too!

  4. Lisa, I enjoyed your review! It is the perfect read for book clubs. And Kibler really does put the reader into the car with Isabelle and Dorrie, like a kid in the backseat, leaning forward to hear better. I love it!


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