Saturday, February 16, 2013
Review #13: Calling Me Home, by Julie Kibler
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 occassion, and I can't wait to see what Kibler will write next.