Calling Me Home (Paperback)

A Novel

By Julie Kibler

St. Martin's Griffin, 9781250020437, 352pp.

Publication Date: January 7, 2014

Other Editions of This Title:
Hardcover (2/12/2013)
Compact Disc (2/12/2013)
Hardcover, Large Print (3/6/2013)
Compact Disc (2/12/2013)
MP3 CD (2/12/2013)

List Price: 15.99*
* Individual store prices may vary.

February 2013 Indie Next List

“Two women, one old and white, one young and black, make a cross-country journey that will create a bond between them stronger than age or race or family. Told from each woman's perspective, this is a look at race relations in this country in 1930s Kentucky. Isabelle, at the age of 17, falls in love with Robert, a year older, and a black man, whose mother and sister work for Isabelle's family. Their forbidden love will devastate their families, their own lives, and the lives of future generations. Dorrie, present-day Isabelle's hairdresser and friend, will learn about Isabelle's past while gaining help and insight into her own family problems. You will laugh and cry as you read this incredible story.”
— Karen Briggs, Great Northern Books and Hobbies, Oscoda, MI
View the List

Description

In Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler, 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 Isabelle from her home in Arlington, Texas, to a funeral in Cincinnati. With no clear explanation why. Tomorrow.

Curious whether she can unlock the secrets of Isabelle's guarded past, she agrees, 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.



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 Arlington, Texas. Calling Me Home is her debut.


Praise For Calling Me Home: A Novel

“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



Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com

  1. When Isabelle first grows close to Robert, is her interest in him genuine, or does it have more to do with disobeying her parents and her society’s constraints? How does their relationship change as it grows?
  2. What attracts Isabelle to Robert? What attracts Robert to Isabelle? In what ways do they compliment each other?
  3. Were there moments during their courtship that you, as a reader, felt that they should not continue their relationship because of the risks?
  4. What is the most important thing that Isabelle’s story teaches Dorrie? How does she apply Isabelle’s lessons to her relationship with Teague?
  5. What is the most important thing that Isabelle’s story teaches Dorrie? How does she apply Isabelle’s lessons to her relationship with Teague?
  6. What makes Dorrie and Isabelle’s friendship unique? How did you feel about the way they each reacted to others’ assumptions about them? Do you have a close relationship with your hairstylist? If not, do you think Dorrie and Isabelle's friendship is more unique to Isabelle's generation?
  7. Do you feel that Calling Me Home accurately portrayed today’s lingering racial injustices and resentments? Did Calling Me Home cause you to examine your own prejudices, if any? Has it inspired you to think or act differently? How?
  8. Do you have any sympathy for Isabelle’s mother? What about for Isabelle’s father?
  9. How did you feel when you discovered Robert’s fate? Were you surprised to learn whose funeral Isabelle and Dorrie were attending?
  10. Have you ever experienced a forbidden love relationship, or has anyone in your life fallen in love with someone "inappropriate" due to family or societal constraints? How did reading this story make you feel about that relationship? Did it change any of your thoughts or beliefs about how the relationship played out?
  11. Did you enjoy the dual narratives in the past and present day? Were you more interested in one or the other? Why?
  12. What was your reaction to learning the story was inspired by the author's own family lore (Her father told her that her grandmother fell in love with a black man in an era and locale that made it impossible)? Does knowing that make the story feel more "real?"
  13. Had you heard of "sundown towns" before reading this story? What was your experience with them, ifso, and what was your reaction to learning about them, if not?
  14. Read "Forbidden Love: The Historical Taboo of Biracial Relationships" by Reading Group Choices' Neely Kennedy for discussible topics and themes!