Isabel, a teenage white girl, and Robert, the black son of her family’s housekeeper, have grown up together in 1930s Kentucky. Although they’ve known each other since they were young, their lives are divided by very different circumstances. Despite this, Isabel and Robert develop a strong and mutual respect, friendship, and love for each other.
Almost 80 years later Isabel tells her story to friend, hairdresser, and confidant, Dorrie, while driving to a funeral several states away. Through alternating dialogue, their time spent traveling together reveals not only Isabel and Robert’s marriage, but the events following. The modern-day trials of Dorrie’s struggles as a single black mother and business owner are also revealed.
This debut novel takes racial conflict and misunderstanding far above and beyond the typical story. The natural dialogue between Isabel and Dorrie bring common misunderstandings and mutual struggles to light.
Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler is a moving story full of rich, genuine characters that are both captivating and flawed. Kibler does a fantastic job of weaving the events together naturally, culminating in several revelations that tug at the heartstrings. Somehow she manages to keep Isabel and Dorrie's friendship realistic, their characters believable, and the theme of cultural misunderstandings respectful. I finished the story loving and rooting for both Isabel and Dorrie.
Comparisons to Kathryn Stockett’s The Help are natural, but while both are excellent novels that carry serious themes of racial tension, Calling Me Home is all that, in addition to being a good love story. Of course another excellent novel on the theme is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
You can find all of these titles as well as many supplemental materials, at Virginia Beach Public libraries. Calling Me Home, The Help, and To Kill a Mockingbird are also available as a Downloadable Audio Books and Compact Disc Audio Books.
Review by Rebekah K.