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Calling Me Home: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Julie Kibler
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (662 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.99
Kindle Price: $9.99
You Save: $6.00 (38%)
Sold by: Macmillan

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Book Description

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 everything 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.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Comparisons to The Help (2009) are inevitable, and though there are echoes of Kathryn Stockett’s popular best-seller to be found in Calling Me Home, Kibler has crafted a wholly original debut. The novel, set in 1930s Kentucky, centers on a forbidden romance between a teenage white girl, Isabelle McAllister, and Robert Prewitt, the black son of the McAllister’s maid. Chafing under her mother’s restrictive notions of female propriety, Isabelle finds a kindred spirit in Robert. The two begin to meet clandestinely, but any hope of a future together is threatened by the overwhelming racism of the era. Against impossible odds, the pair elopes to neighboring Cincinnati, but their happiness is short-lived when Isabelle’s thuggish brothers drag her back to the family home. The sad story is presented in flashback, as told by a now-elderly Isabelle to her black hairdresser, Dorrie, while the two drive cross-country to a funeral. Some may object that the civil rights struggle is once again being filtered through a white perspective, but there’s no denying the pull of Kibler’s story. --Patty Wetli


"Kibler’s unsentimental eye makes the problems faced unflinchingly by [Isabelle and Dorrie] ring true. Love and family defy the expected in this engaging tale." —Kirkus

"In Calling Me Home, Kibler has crafted a wholly original debut. . . . There’s no denying the pull of Kibler’s story." —Booklist

"A rousing debut about forbidden love and unexpected friendships. . . . In this compelling tale, Kibler handles decades of race relations with sensitivity and finds a nice balance between the characters of Dorrie and Isabelle. Drawing from her own family history in Texas, Kibler relays a familiar story in a fresh way.” —Publishers Weekly

"This is deeply affecting coming-of-age story with radiant characters who will remain with the reader long after the last page is turned." —Romantic Times

“You’d never guess that Calling Me Home is a debut novel, Julie Kibler’s writing is so wise and assured. Although the two strong women she’s created come from completely different backgrounds, the bond that grows between them is extraordinary, touching and believable. I laughed out loud in places and had tears in my eyes as I turned the last page. I can’t wait to watch Julie Kibler’s star rise!” –New York Times bestselling author Diane Chamberlain

"Clear your schedule before you open up this thoroughly engaging book. CALLING ME HOME is a story about love in its many incarnations—in romance, friendships, and families; loves lost, and love regained. Kibler illuminates racial tensions many of us don’t realize still exist in this country, and shows how small acts of faith can make big inroads to acceptance. I closed the final page with a smile and a tear, humbled and eager to embrace life." - Margaret Dilloway, author of How to Be an American Housewife

"Pop some corn and grab a hankie before you start CALLING ME HOME because you won't want to put it down until you come to the end of this true journey of the heart." - Carleen Brice, author of Orange Mint and Honey

"Calling Me Home is a tenderly wrought story of love and secrets, heartbreak and healing, and the remarkable power of friendship to heal two women who find each other across the lines of time, generation, and race. Julie Kibler has written an original and moving debut novel that will linger with you for a long, long time." --Barbara O'Neal, The Garden of Happy Endings

“Julie Kibler grabbed me on the very first page and didn’t let go…What a marvel of a debut novel.  Black and white, young and old, searching and missing and finding in each other a special understanding, companionship, and love, these characters are real and addictive. Calling Me Home was keenly conceived, impeccably plotted, and beautifully written.”  –Barbara Delinsky, New York Times bestselling author of Escape and Not My Daughter

“Touching and unforgettable, Julie Kibler’s CALLING ME HOME is the kind of story that pulls you in from page one, grips your heart and absolutely won’t let go.”  --Sarah Jio, author of The Violets of March and The Bungalow

"Calling Me Home is journey into the heart where secrets hide and love reigns. Across the bridge of race and generation, Julie Kibler brings together two  who profoundly influence each other as they reveal their stories and their heartbreak. With a stunning plot twist, Kibler reminds the reader that things aren't always as they appear and love has its own life." --Patti Callahan Henry, New York Times bestselling author of Coming Up For Air

"If Julie Kibler's novel Calling Me Home were a young woman, her grandmother would be To Kill a Mockingbird, her sister would be The Help and her cousin would be The Notebook. But even with such iconic relatives, Calling Me Home stands on her own; this novel uncovers a painful past that tells us so much about who we are, where we're going, and the people who are traveling with us." –Wiley Cash, New York Times bestselling author of A Land More Kind Than Home

Product Details

  • File Size: 489 KB
  • Print Length: 336 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1250014522
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; Reprint edition (February 12, 2013)
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008RVAP2C
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,775 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
65 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Calling Me Home: A Winner for Book Clubs January 29, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Calling Me Home, Julie Kibler's debut novel, is guaranteed to be a hit with book clubs. Alternating between the present day and the late 1930's, Dorrie and Miss Isabelle also alternate narrating this book.
Present day: Dorrie and Miss Isabelle embark on a car trip together. Dorrie is driving Miss Isabelle to a funeral. The two seem an odd pair at first - one black, one white, and generations apart in age. But, Dorrie has been doing Miss Isabelle's hair for quite a while and Miss Isabelle treats her as though she were her own daughter. Dorrie is trying out a new relationship, not sure how much she can trust this new man. She is also upset with her son, Stevie, Jr., who has made some bad decisions lately.
Miss Isabelle opens up and begins to tell her story as the two make this journey.
1939: Miss Isabelle is just a teenager who falls in love with their maid's son, Robert. An interracial couple isn't approved of in many places, especially in Isabelle's hometown. Although the two are committed to each other, there are many things conspiring against them. As Miss Isabelle shares her story it is easy to see what a remarkable relationship she and Robert shared, yet Dorrie knows from seeing the pictures in Isabelle's house that everyone in Isabelle's life is white. What happened to Robert and the love they shared?
Although not marked as a romance, I would classify it as having a bit of romance in this story. I couldn't help but get my hopes up that true love would prevail.
Book clubs will find plenty to discuss in Kibler's story- relationships, racism, the norms of the time this story took place, and friendship are just a few of the topics I can't wait to discuss with other readers.
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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A heart-warming and unforgettable read February 25, 2013
This review can also be found on my blog, The Baking Bookworm ([...])

Note: My sincere thanks to NetGalley and St Martin's Press for providing me with a complimentary e-copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

My Thoughts: I read this book a couple of weeks ago while I was vacationing in Florida and I have to tell you -- this was a very hard book to put down. It's heart-warming story of forbidden love and an unlikely friendship that has great main characters and an emotional ending that ensures that this book will stay with me for a long time.

I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised to learn that this was Ms Kibler's debut novel. Not every author is able to write a story that flows back and forth between two different eras without a few bumps in the storyline but Ms Kibler does so fluently and flawlessly. It's interesting to note that Ms Kibler got the idea to write this book after she discovered that her grandmother had fallen in love with a black man in her youth. At that time the hope of having an interracial relationship was almost infeasible and that is how this story was born.

But it's the relationship and bond between thirty-something Dorrie, a black single mother of two, and eighty-nine year old Isabelle, an elderly white woman in Texas, that made these two characters stand out for me. They are sadly, even in modern times, viewed as an unlikely pair which causes some small minded people to look at them with suspicion.

It's through Dorrie and Isabelle's narratives, which were so engaging, that the story really comes to life.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping novel on familiar material January 26, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Warning - this book will be hard to put down! It's a crossover between literary fiction and suspense, with some history included. The characters are three-dimensional; they have failing and flaws as well a a heroic nature that comes through.

As the book jacket says, the story begins when Isabelle, an 89-year-old woman in Texas, asks her hairdresser to join her on a journey. Of course the hairdresser is also a good friend from over the years; she comes to Isabelle's home and helps her out like a daughter.

The story is told in alternating voices; Isabelle's first person memories of her childhood and teen years alternate with Dorrie's story of the drive in the present. Isabelle's story holds a strong emotional charge, because black and white communities were separate, 75 years after the Civil War. Isabelle's town didn't allow African-Americans to live within its borders and enforced a strong curfew.

At the same time, Dorrie's story shows that we're not 100% there; in one scene, a hotel clerk wonders why these two women are together.

So what's not to like? The book is a good read and I suspect book clubs will choose Calling Me Home as a selection. My only concern is that the material seemed so familiar there were few surprises.

Still, the book is better written than most; the pace is good; the characters are appealing (probably more to women than men) and if you're looking for a way to pass a snowy afternoon, this book works.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars World War II Love Story April 17, 2013
By Cynthia
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I was anxious to read this book because of all the glowing Amazon reviews. I was somewhat disappointed however. The writing is competent, the theme of racial equality vs. intolerance is important, the World War II setting is enticing but the underlying `romance' novel quality of the book isn't something I enjoy.

The action swings between the present and the past, specifically 1939 and the early 1940's. Central to the book is a friendship between an almost 90 year old white woman and a 40 something African American woman. They meet when cantankerous Isabelle parks herself at Dorrie's hairdressing station one fateful afternoon. A relationship that starts out rocky soon becomes one of true friendship and respect. This relationship is the best part of this book. An internal alarm went off for me however, because it seems like a lot of books are being written lately by white authors about racial issues. I'm not a purist. ANY author has the right to tackle any theme and is only limited by their imagination and their skills of observation. That's fair. Why though, when it comes to race, are all the problems talked about as if they were in the past? Then bad, now good. And of course things have improved vastly but why not talk about now? The historical perspective silently implies all the bad stuff was then. To be fair Kibler does a great job a showing the racial impact on these two women's current friendship. She shows the good and the bad and the stereotypes which with we still wrestle.

Having said all this I was very emotionally invested in "Calling me Home". It was absorbing. It deals with important themes. It's a love story. If you like the romance genre and have enough tissues you'll most likely enjoy this book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Wonderful read/book!
Published 2 hours ago by lisa palish
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I've read
One of the best books I've read! The story is heartbreaking and beautifully told. Julie Kibler is a talented author and I look forward to her next great novel!!
Published 5 hours ago by Joe
5.0 out of 5 stars I am always amazed at how mean our society can be
I am always amazed at how mean our society can be. This story was a journey of families in the South and how they dealt with
discrimination. Read more
Published 8 hours ago by Carol E. Goodman
5.0 out of 5 stars Love love loved it!
Loved it! One of the best reads I read in a long time!
Published 13 hours ago by dms
4.0 out of 5 stars Driving Miss Daisy meets The Help.
Good novel, well written, plot keeps the reader guessing right up to the end. Both characters are well drawn, interesting women, who have confronted racism in the Twentieth... Read more
Published 16 hours ago by emilia
5.0 out of 5 stars Calling Me Home: A Novel
Loved reading this book !! Great story, could not put it down !!!
Published 1 day ago by Irene Hartman
5.0 out of 5 stars I couldn't put this book down.
I was born in 1943. I learned a lot about the times before my birth and realized not a lot changed as far as racial issues until I became an adult. Read more
Published 2 days ago by Sidney Shelton
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent read!
Published 2 days ago by Jennifer Brown
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Published 4 days ago by Line Charlotte Myrvold
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great story!
Published 4 days ago by Christina Desjardins
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More 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 Texas. Calling Me Home is her debut.

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