I do judge a book by its cover and when I received this ARC I was less than thrilled. (Note: ARC cover is not the same as the one you see here) Next, I usually try to keep myself in the dark about a book however; I did read a blurb and that made me even more pensive. But honoring my own pledge to be a better member of the She Reads Book Club this year, and with this being February’s pick what could I do.
The first few chapters were slow to pull me in and I thought the story was headed in a direction that did not appeal to me. Yet I was completely and utterly wrong in all pre and post musings about CALLING ME HOME. The story that was delivered by Julie Kibler was not what I was expecting and her stunning writing turned everything around.
Isabelle, a woman in her nineties, needs to travel from her home in Texas to Cincinnati for something very important to her. Isabelle asks the only constant person in her life for the past decade, Dorrie, her hair dresser. Dorrie was more than stunned but she cared for Isabelle and had even been coming to her home on Monday mornings to do her hair when it became more challenging for Isabelle to get to the shop. Dorrie an African-American girl in her thirties and Isabelle a white woman in her nineties and the world still held this present day friendship in question. Thrown together by fate, they had developed a special relationship yet Dorrie did not realize just how dear she was to Isabelle until she took this trip with her.
Even though things were going in all directions for Dorrie she decided to do this for Isabelle as it seemed to weigh so heavily on her. So they started out in no time for Cincinnati with much to be discovered. Isabelle soon recounts her time as a young girl and a story unfolds that took Dorrie by surprise and was special for Isabelle to share and difficult to remember and for Dorrie to hear. For me the special nature of CALLING ME HOME was the treatment of the story through Isabelle’s eyes and then when it flips to the present how each of them reacts to what has been shared.
The topic of race is nothing new in books but its treatment here by Kibler made it feel delicate and beautiful. The care and handling of this story of forbidden but true love was both beautiful and heartbreaking. The handling of the past and the present characters and relationships did not remain trapped in the 2 dimensional world of the book. Kibler is skillful in filling in the blanks of things we want to know. I really felt as if I knew Isabelle and Dorrie when the book came to a close and I miss our daily time together.
Thank you to Julie Kibler for her care in delivering this novel. Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for believing in Kibler and the book. Thank you a hundred times over to She Reads Book Club for the community they have invited me to be a part of. Be sure to visit She Reads Book Club as they copies of this book to share with you and wonderful posts and….