Calling Me Home

Calling Me Home

[a Novel]

Book - 2013 | 1st ed
Average Rating:
Rate this:

A National Best Seller!

Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler is a soaring debut interweaving the story of a heartbreaking, forbidden love in 1930s Kentucky with an unlikely modern-day friendship

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 her from her home in Arlington, Texas, to a funeral in Cincinnati. With no clear explanation why. Tomorrow.

Dorrie, fleeing problems of her own and curious whether she can unlock the secrets of Isabelle's guarded past, scarcely hesitates before agreeing, 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.

Publisher: New York : St. Martin's Press, 2013
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9781250014528
Branch Call Number: FIC Kibl
Characteristics: 325


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Aug 03, 2019

There is a reason I don't often gravitate towards books of this nature. The cover alone had me nervous. I knew that the societal norms of the historical setting and self-righteousness of the narrow-minded were bound to cause a simmering rage, as well extreme sadness. I was not wrong. Calling Me Home was a hard read for me, but so well-written that I could barely put the book down. I experienced nervous anticipation nearly the entire read, yet I kept turning pages. By the end, I was emotionally drained. This beautifully written story was an honest portrayal of the times and left me both thankful and concerned. Thankful that there has been obvious progress in race relations, but also concerned that there hasn't been enough. I can't say that this book leaves you with a feeling of satisfaction, but it does have closure and much to think on. I know for a fact that it will stay with me for a long time.

Jul 24, 2019

This story, which follows the relationship between a privileged white girl and the son of an African-American housekeeper, is an excellent account of young love and racial injustice in the 1930's.

ArapahoeStaff18 Jul 11, 2018

I really liked this book. The characters of Isabelle and Dorrie were great. I felt like I was taking the road trip to the funeral with these two ladies and hearing Isabelle's love story unfold. couldn't put it down.

DBRL_ANNEG May 17, 2018

If you're in the mood for a book that delves into the ugly racial history of this country, but you don't want to read something super-heavy, Julie Kibler's book hits the spot. I was drawn into this story of star-crossed love from the book's opening pages. In this era of black lives matter, I found the story especially moving and wondered just how many folks loved, but lost simply because of their skin color. (The book itself came out of the author's grandma's own story of having loved a black man in her youth.)

With that said, I do think the book has some weaknesses. Robert (our protagonist Isabella's love) is flawless--kind, handsome, caring. He's pretty darn wonderful--who wouldn't fall for him? That said, we don't really get to see his side of things and I think that keeps the book from truly shining. In her later years, Isabella befriends her black hairstylist, Dorrie, and I think the author used this relationship to bring in some of the black perspective. Although I liked Dorrie and think her relationship to Isabella worked, I think that if the author had figured out a way to bring more of Robert's perspective into the tale, it could have added a lot more depth. As the story progressed, I couldn't help thinking that this was a white story about the racial issue and I wondered how a black narrator might have presented the tale.

With that said, there was a part of the ending that did manage to take my breath away. And I did really care for the characters and hope for them and grieve for everything that might have been, but couldn't because of the color of their skin.

I think this will appeal to fans of "The Help" and "The Secret Life of Bees."

Jul 27, 2017

An excellent story. Really hits you in the feels at the end. Would highly recommend it to anyone who liked The Help.

Sep 04, 2016

Read the first 100 pages and decided against continuing. Thought the first chapter was promising but the characters turned out to be two dimensional. The scene walking home from the club with Robert was painful for its predictability. Good premise and I liked the beauty parlor relationship but I just didn't think the story was going to deliver.

TSCPL_ChrisB Jun 04, 2016

Calling Me Home is surprising because, though it starts on a path very familiar, the journey takes a turn, goes in a completely different direction than expected, and becomes a story that feels genuine.

Kibler does a fabulous job finding the voices of these characters and staying in them. The pacing is good; the story was interesting and mostly logical. The biggest flaw with this book, in my opinion, is the author's attempt to withhold information for the sake of suspense. It's something I've come to expect from these book-club books, but it didn't settle well for this one.

Uyc Apr 27, 2016

This is one of those stories that just pulls you into the era and has some very believable characters. I felt many emotions throughout this book and it really highlights the differential treatment given to those of a different skin colour. Good, easy read.

pearldew Jan 29, 2015

Excellent! Literally couldn't put it down.

Dec 22, 2014

A great book that brings to light what both black and white women faced years ago and how some things haven't changed. Also, the love of a child is above all.

View All Comments


Add a Quote
M_ALCOTT Jun 29, 2015

"When I met Miss Isabelle, she acted more like Miss Miserabelle, and that's a fact. But I didn't think she was a racist. God's honest truth, it was the furthest thing from my mind. I may look young, thank you very much, but I've had this gig awhile. I knew almost right away Miss Isabelle carried troubles more significant than worrying about the color of my skin. As pretty as she was for an eighty-year-old woman, there was something dark below her surface, and it kept her from being soft. But I was never one to press for all the details--could be that was part of the beauty of the thing. I've learned that people talk when they're ready."-Dorrie, Present Day; excerpt "Calling Me Home"

M_ALCOTT Jun 29, 2015

"Robert Prewitt, I think ...I think I might love you."-Isabelle

M_ALCOTT Jun 29, 2015

"Isabelle. What happened tonight? It can't ever be more than that--a nice memory. For the both of us. You know it. Anyone ever finds out I kissed you, you know what they will do to me? What your momma will do to you? It's impossible."-Robert

M_ALCOTT Jun 29, 2015

"Robert was right. Marriage between Negroes and whites was not only taboo but also illegal. What good was our love if consecration in the eyes of God and the law was forbidden?"-Isabelle, 1939; excerpt "Calling Me Home"

M_ALCOTT Jun 29, 2015

[Inscription on the band of the tiny silver thimble, engraved with intricate, interlocking flowers.]
"Faith. Hope. Love."


Add a Summary
APlazek Mar 01, 2013

Calling Me Home, a debut novel by Julie Kibler, is a heart-wrenching story of forbidden love and loss. Isabelle McAllister is pushing 90 and needs to travel from Texas to Cincinnati for a funeral so she asks her hairdresser who has befriended her over the past 10 years to drive her there. Dorrie is a black single mother who is struggling with her current relationship and other parenting issues, but she thinks so highly of Isabelle that she agrees. The road trip allows plenty of time for Isabelle to share stories about her first love, Robert, a young black man whose family worked for hers. The story is beautifully written and intersperses stories from Isabelle’s youth with what they are experiencing on the road and problems Dorrie is facing in her current relationships. A phenomenal book that fans of The Help would enjoy.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Subject Headings


Find it at NWPL

To Top