In Calling Me Home, Julie Kibler's debut novel, Isabelle, a ninety year old woman, asks Dorrie her long-time hair dresser and close friend to drive her from their homes in Texas to a funeral in Cincinnati. Along the way, Isabelle will share her story of love and loss as a young woman and Dorrie will deal with her family issues at home via cell phone. As Isabelle finds absolution, Dorrie finds the strength to face her own trials and chance at love.
Initially, I found the novel hard to get into. I thought the narrative style of writing seemed too simple and the characters bland. The story seemed predictable. However, it didn't take too many chapters before I was completely and emotionally invested in Isabelle's story of falling in love with a black man and my opinion changed. The characters became fully fleshed out--flawed yet richly human in their emotions and choices. While much of the plot is, of course, foreseeable--we all know how a romance between a white woman and a black man in 1939 Kentucky is going to turn out--Kibler throws in surprises now and then that kept me hoping and rooting for the young couple.
By the end of the novel, I was emotionally invested in the lives of both Isabelle and Dorrie. The novel excels at pricking those historical nerves we want to forget and yet reminds us that there is still so much room to improve in regards to racial relations.
Kibler is a fantastic story-teller and is ultimately impressive with her debut work.
In a strange twist of computer glitches, I ended up with two ARC copies of Calling Me Home. So, I am delighted to offer one as a give-away to a lucky reader.
To enter, leave a comment on this post. The contest will be open to entries until Thursday, March 21st at 11:59 pm MST. The winner will be chosen randomly from the comments and announced on Friday, March 22nd. Open to residents of the US only.
**I received a complimentary copy of Calling Me Home in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was received.**