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Review: Calling Me Home

February 14, 2013

Calling Me Home

Isabelle, an 89 year old white woman, has become great friends with Dorrie, the young black woman who has been styling her hair for the last decade.  When Miss Isabelle needs to return to Ohio for a funeral, she asks Dorrie to drive her there.  Dorrie quickly agrees and the two head off.  Ohio’s almost a thousand miles away, though, so they will be in the car a while.  While they make their way north, Miss Isabelle tells Dorrie about her past, finally revealing whose funeral they’ll be attending.

As a young woman, Isabelle was deeply in love with a young black man.  Her family didn’t approve and did what they could  – even resorting to lies and violence – to keep the two of them apart.   It’s a tragic story, to be sure, and it explains a lot about Miss Isabelle.  Hearing it makes Dorrie reflect on her own life.

I deliberately left out a lot of the details of Calling Me Home, by Julie Kibler, because I think they’re best discovered as you read the book.  The narration alternates between Miss Isabelle’s story in the past and Dorrie’s current day story with Isabelle’s story taking up the bulk of the book.

I really liked this book, but didn’t love it as much as others have.  Both Dorrie and Isabelle are wonderful characters but I felt Isabelle’s story dragged at times and I wanted a little more of Dorrie’s.  Hopefully that will come in another book.

Kibler writes with so much heart and emotion, I could feel Isabelle’s pain, but her story felt familiar, and even predictable, to me.  Still, I needed to know how things turned out and admit to shedding a tear or two at the end. I was fascinated to learn Kibler got the idea for the book when she discovered that her grandmother had been in love with a black man.   Calling Me Home won’t make my list of favorites for the year, but I have a feeling it will be on plenty of others.

Review copy provided by St. Martin’s Press for She Reads.  I am an Indiebound Affiliate.
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28 Comments leave one →
  1. bookingmama permalink
    February 14, 2013 6:45 am

    I definitely enjoyed this one much more than you did. I was a bit surprised because I had a feeling as I was reading it that you would like it a lot!

  2. February 14, 2013 7:01 am

    Haven’t heard of this one, but it sounds like one worth trying.

  3. sandynawrot permalink
    February 14, 2013 7:05 am

    Yeah, like Julie I would have pegged this book to be a favorite of yours. I did love it. I thought Isabelle’s story was so touching, and wasn’t even all that focused on Dorrie because of that. I love the idea of a second book though!

  4. Becca Lostinbooks permalink
    February 14, 2013 7:36 am

    I am intrigued by this book. I assume most of the story takes place outside of the car trip, what with Isabelle relating her story to Dorrie. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been to love someone no one else thought you should be with to the extent of violence.

  5. February 14, 2013 8:25 am

    I’d like it too.

  6. February 14, 2013 9:09 am

    I just added this to my TBL yesterday. It looks good.

  7. February 14, 2013 9:43 am

    Haven’t heard anything about this one prior to your review. I love the cover and the inspiration for the story.

  8. February 14, 2013 9:51 am

    I just found out about this one on twitter and I thought it sounded so good. After reading your post, I’m not so sure now. I might still kindle it though and read it during the summer ( for some reason I think summer is meant for light reading and this sounds like light reading). By the way, I read Skipping A Beat by Pekkanen and I loved it! I remember you posted about it and so I bought it, but I only just read it – I’m so glad I finally did. Thanks!

  9. February 14, 2013 11:06 am

    This book sounds really good – It does sound predictable, but at least the kind of predictability that you could forgive. I felt the same after reading The Fault in our Stars – I thought it predictable but everything else about the book made it worth it.

  10. February 14, 2013 11:18 am

    I really enjoyed this book and was completely sucked in to Miss isabelle’s story. Like Sandy said, sometimes I felt distracted by Dorrie’s story because I was so anxious to learn more about what happened with Miss Isabelle. For a debut novel, I found felt one was impressive and I would definitely read a follow-up as well. I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy it more.

  11. February 14, 2013 12:05 pm

    Aww too bad you didn’t fall in love! I definitely liked it more than you did!

  12. February 14, 2013 12:52 pm

    As long as it’s done well I really like it when stories go back in forth in time. This sounds like one I would enjoy!

  13. February 14, 2013 12:56 pm

    Wow, everyone has read this! (except me! LOL)

  14. February 14, 2013 1:14 pm

    Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts about this book, Kathy. Your reviews are always clear and a pleasure to read.

  15. zibilee permalink
    February 14, 2013 1:27 pm

    This one intrigues me, and even if it is a tad predictable, the fact that a white woman fell in love with a black man, and was kept away from him during that time period really interests me. I can only imagine the family’s reaction, and what kind of scandal that this relationship would have caused. Ahh, the past. How backwards it all was! I liked your review, even though this wasn’t a favorite book.

  16. February 14, 2013 1:51 pm

    Sounds good. I think I’d enjoy this one.

  17. February 14, 2013 2:25 pm

    I haven’t heard of this one either but it’s worth taking a glance at it!

  18. February 14, 2013 6:29 pm

    Any book that makes you cry has something going for it!

  19. February 14, 2013 7:00 pm

    This is the first time I’m hearing about this book, and it sounds like a great story. It sounds like it would make a good movie too.

  20. February 14, 2013 7:49 pm

    I haven’t heard of this one, but you have me intrigued

  21. February 15, 2013 8:43 pm

    Glad you liked this one, even if it wasn’t total book love. It sounds as if there is a good enough story there for me to give it a try. Great review!

  22. February 16, 2013 8:01 am

    I am glad to see or rather, read about someone who didn’t love it as much as others. This is one that is certainly on my radar but I don’t know when I will get to it! Another very balanced and fair review!

  23. February 17, 2013 10:43 am

    This is on my list of must reads!

  24. February 17, 2013 2:39 pm

    This book sounds wonderful. I guess a lot of people have read it but this is the first I’ve heard of it! Although you didn’t like it quite as much as you thought you would, it still seems to have touched you a lot. Your review has piqued my curiosity and I;m off to find out more about this book!

  25. readerbuzz permalink
    February 17, 2013 5:51 pm

    You are so good at sharing just-enough-but-not-too-much.

  26. Beth F permalink
    February 18, 2013 5:48 am

    We were opposites. It was Dorrie story that I found less interesting.

  27. February 19, 2013 11:55 pm

    This sounds like a story I would really like. And who doesn’t enjoy an Ohio road trip?

  28. boardinginmyforties permalink
    March 15, 2013 4:53 pm

    I always find the stories that go back and forth in time and between two characters are never consistently good for me. I found this with Sara’s Key when I discovered I only cared about the character from the past and really wasn’t rooting for the modern character at all.

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