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Cannonball Read V: Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler

By The Mama | Book Reviews | March 5, 2013 | Comments ()


Calling Me Home is a wonderful debut novel from Julie Kibler, and I predict this will be this year's The Help.

Miss Isabelle, an eighty-nine-year-old white woman, asks her hairdresser Dorrie, a thirty-something black woman, to accompany her to Cincinnati for a funeral.

The story switches between Dorrie narrating in present day and Isabelle telling the story of her early life, set in the late 1930s and early 1940s, just as America was emerging from the Depression, on the eve of the second World War. Dorrie's got a lot on her plate - her young son is in some grown up trouble, her beauty shop isn't exactly a cash cow, and the man she's dating seems to good to be true. She's having a lot of trouble trusting that he's not going to turn tail and run like all the other men in her life have.

Young Isabelle is the daughter of a country doctor, living in a small southern town that doesn't allow non-whites to be within the city limits after sundown. Like many young southern girls of that era, she bonds more closely with her mother's maid, Cora, than with her own mother, and finds herself falling in love with Cora's son Robert. But true love or not, this is 1940s Kentucky, and the son of a black maid has no business even being near a young white girl, let alone loving her.

No review I give this book will do it justice. It's an excellent read on all accounts, and both Isabelle's and Dorrie's stories are extremely compelling. I found myself in tears on more than one occasion, and I can't wait to see what Kibler will write next.

This review is part of the volunteer Cannonball Read V. Read all about it , and find more of The Mama's reviews on the group blog.

(Note: Any revenue generated from purchases made through the amazon.com affiliate links in this review will be donated in entirety to the American Cancer Society.)

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • I'm unsure about this one after my disappointing run with The Kitchen House, I'll put it on the back burner and decide later. I stayed away from The Help due to the lack of vernacular usage amongst the white characters. How does this one handle that?

  • The Mama

    I'm not sure what you mean by lack of vernacular - that didn't particularly stand out in The Help for me. I can tell you that I very often struggle when an author uses dialect, and I feel that in most cases, it does nothing to help the book. There may have been a few n-words here and there in this book, but nothing stood out as being out of place.

    Give it a shot. It's slow-going the first few pages, but it's worth sticking it out.

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