THE AUTHOR: Julie Kibler
“If ‘Calling Me Home’ were a young woman, her grandmother would be ‘To Kill A Mockingbird,’ her sister would be ‘The Help,’ and her cousin would be ‘The Notebook.’”
Wiley Cash, the author of “A Land More Kind Than Home,” makes this profound statement on the back cover of “Calling Me Home,” Julie Kibler’s debut novel.
This book is filled with black and white, mystery and surprise, painful love and longing love. It’ s a definite 5 tiaras out of 5. You will be drawn in and captured by its two main characters, Miss Isabelle and Dorrie.
Miss Isabelle is a feisty 90-year-old with many things left to do on her bucket list. Dorrie is a single mom of two teenagers and is Miss Isabelle’s hair dresser and trusted friend. Miss Isabelle and Dorrie have an unusual relationship that you will find to be both endearing and touching.
One day Miss Isabelle makes a big request of Dorrie. She asks that Dorrie drive her from Texas back to her hometown in Cincinnati. On the way, Miss Isabelle begins to talk about her life, and an unexpected and rare story begins to unfold.But Dorrie is dealing with her life as a single woman who runs her own business, and all the financial struggles that involves. She worries about her children who, as she tries to quit her smoking habit, cause her to light up one cigarette after another.
“Calling Me Home” takes place in the 1940s. A little more than 70 years ago Miss Isabelle’s community is dealing with a lot of racial discrimination. In Shallerville, as you come into town, there hangs an actual sign on the old oak tree that requires all African American people to be out of town by dark. Even the maids have to scurry home before sunset or make themselves vulnerable to the repercussions of staying out too late.
Isabelle’s father is a medical doctor, and they are better off financially than most of the other people in their community. Dr. McAllister is helpful with Isabelle and his maid Cora’s son, Robert, as they do their homework and study for school. The doctor engages Isabelle as a teenager to be all that she can be. They pass the newspaper between them and discuss current events and the upcoming war in Europe. Isabelle loves being treated as a person who is capable of thinking rather than just a homemaker-in-training.
Isabelle’s Mama is extremely strict and keeps a watchful eye on her activities. But Isabelle is a smart young lady with a mind of her own, and she seeks to change the ways of her community and to buck the system.
Julie Kibler, an up-and-coming author, has accomplished an amazing writing feat. This story will not allow you to put it down, and if you must it will haunt you until you are ready to begin reading again.
Miss Isabelle and Dorrie can’t help but leave a lasting touch on your heart. Their abilities to love one another break barriers down that still exist today. It is an unforgettable story that brings you both laughter and tears. It is a fictionalized version of a true story her father told to Kibler about her own grandmother.
In the acknowledgements, Kibler mentions the possibility of a movie being made out of the book. I know that you’ll be like me and start visualizing who you would cast to play each character in the book. I hope that we are lucky enough to have Hollywood fulfill our wishes to see this on the big screen. It is an adventure that you or I wouldn’t want to miss.
Without a doubt in my mind, I recommend this story to everyone who has a touch of sentimentality in them. You will be dazzled by a cross-country trip and all that it entails for Miss Isabelle and Dorrie.
“Calling Me Home” makes me think that Julie Kibler has a bright future, and once you’ve read her debut novel, I believe you’ll find yourself waiting anxiously for her next one. Get ready to be engrossed in a true story that is beautifully written.
And before your calendar fills up, please mark Saturday, April 13, to attend the Friends of the Library Book Festival at the Neva Lomason Memorial Library. It will take place from 10 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. and it is free. We will have 35 authors, and our featured author is nationally known Joshilyn Jackson of “Backseat Saints,” “Gods In Alabama” and many more. Please plan to join us. I’ll be giving you a lot more information on the book festival.
Buice, a Carrollton resident, writes a weekly book review for the Times-Georgian. anitabook.com