Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Calling Me Home - Julie Kibler

 It has been a handful of months now that I've been reading the monthly books chosen and featured by She Reads, the wonderful website dedicated to all things bookish.  My takeaway regarding She Reads is this...they are on a ROLL with the books they have been selecting!  I can't even explain to you how this monthly book selection has become a highlight...it is like a little happy bonus every month.  

I'd not heard a single thing about February's selection "Calling Me Home" but from the very first page it was almost impossible to put down.  Here is the premise.

Synopsis:  Over the years, 89 year-old Isabelle McAllister has forged a warm friendship with her hairdresser Dorrie, despite the fact that most would find the bond unlikely.  Isabelle is a fussy Southern white woman, and Dorrie is a young single black mother of two children...but the two have grown close.  Still, Dorrie is taken aback when Isabelle asks her to drive her from Texas to Ohio so that she may attend a funeral.  Despite their friendship, Dorrie knows little about Isabelle's background, and has no clue who has died.  But because of her love and respect for the old woman, she agrees.  

On the road, with snacks and crossword puzzles in hand, the story is slowly revealed.  When Isabelle was a 17 year-old in 1930's Kentucky, she fell in love with Robert Prewitt, the handsome black son of the family housekeeper.  Not only was this union frowned upon, it was illegal and if revealed to Isabelle's family and community, might even have gotten Robert killed.  Isabelle's story of her one true love, and the lifetime of heartbreak and consequences it brought her, is shocking and devastating to Dorrie.  Not only does it put Dorrie's problems in perspective, but makes her glad she can be there for her friend.  

My thoughts:  One thing my rather lame synopsis will never convey is how easy this book was to read.  (The topic itself was NOT easy, don't get me wrong.)  But the prose was smooth and conversational and just flowed right off the page.  It is hard to explain but some stories are written so seamlessly, you pick it up and suddenly you are 200 pages into it.  This is not a throw-away complement for me to give.  This reading experience is not one I have often.  

The subject matter, however, is visceral.  My heart just broke in two...the losses in Isabelle's life were beyond comprehension.  And as a reader, I felt every emotion because of the tangible chemistry between Isabelle and Robert. The impossibility of the relationship, the brutality towards blacks, the unfairness of it all...I was distraught and frustrated and wanted to stomp my feet!  And these are all good things.  If a book can make me FEEL, then it has done it's job.

Yet it was a beautiful love story, and a street level view of race relations back in the '30's.  It reminded me so much of "The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove" by Susan Gregg Gilmore (which I would highly recommend as well).  This is not a book I will soon forget.

4.5 out of 5 stars  


22 comments:

caite said...

like that cover..
love that review!

another book I just have to get now. darn. lol

rhapsodyinbooks said...

well gosh, okay. gotta read this!

Jackie Bailey said...

I hadn't heard of this one, but I love the sound of the emotional response you describe. I'm keeping an eye out for it now.

bermudaonion said...

I'm late to the game and have just started this one. So far, I'm loving it.

Zibilee said...

I am also late with this one, and expect it any day from the library so that I can get started. It is amazing how good the selections from She Reads has been. They know how to pick the perfect books! Excellent review today! It's made me excited to get started with this one!

Cathy said...

Wond
erful! I would love to read this book!

Jaime Boler said...

Wonderful review! I loved that Kibler had Isabelle do crossword puzzles.

Julie P. said...

Totally agree that the beauty of this novel was how it made me feel!

Lisa (Southern Girl Reads) said...

Terrific review! This tragic love story stung my heart yet I enjoyed the story so much. And I agree, this is only my second month as a member of She Reads and I am thoroughly pleased and proud to be a participant!

Melody said...

This book sounds like a great read! Will have to check it out!

Anita said...

Wonderful review Sandy. I was waiting to read the other reviews, as I just finished mine. I loved this book.

Beth F said...

I loved her characters!

JoAnn said...

I've just added this to my wish list - sounds great!

Charlie said...

It sounds brilliant, but I wasn't as sure before I read your review. I know what you mean about easy to read versus subject matter, writing that flows makes it easier to focus on the message rather than finding it heavy going. Great review!

Jenners said...

Oh I love a book that just rolls right off the page.

Meg @ write meg! said...

Sounds like such a lovely, emotional read -- and I definitely appreciate the idea of how easy it is to get lost in a story! Looking up and realizing I'm 200 pages into a book is awesome (and rare). Adding this to my wishlist.

Heather @ Book Addiction said...

I totally agree! I loved this one and I'm so loving the fact that I'm a part of She Reads because they've been picking awesome books lately.

stacybuckeye said...

If you loved it that much I'll have to get my hands on it.

Darlene said...

I noticed this one on Amazon the other day. It sure looks like one I'll like so it's being added to he list!

Melissa said...

I haven't heard anything about this one either, but I trust you!

Lisa (Southern Girl Reads) said...

I was immediately sucked into Miss Isabelle's story. My heart broke for her but I had to keep reading.

Kathleen said...

This one is on my list as of now and I'm off to check out She Reads. Thanks Sandy!