Reviews for Calling Me Home

Booklist Reviews 2013 January #1
Comparisons to The Help (2009) are inevitable, and though there are echoes of Kathryn Stockett's popular best-seller to be found in Calling Me Home, Kibler has crafted a wholly original debut. The novel, set in 1930s Kentucky, centers on a forbidden romance between a teenage white girl, Isabelle McAllister, and Robert Prewitt, the black son of the McAllister's maid. Chafing under her mother's restrictive notions of female propriety, Isabelle finds a kindred spirit in Robert. The two begin to meet clandestinely, but any hope of a future together is threatened by the overwhelming racism of the era. Against impossible odds, the pair elopes to neighboring Cincinnati, but their happiness is short-lived when Isabelle's thuggish brothers drag her back to the family home. The sad story is presented in flashback, as told by a now-elderly Isabelle to her black hairdresser, Dorrie, while the two drive cross-country to a funeral. Some may object that the civil rights struggle is once again being filtered through a white perspective, but there's no denying the pull of Kibler's story. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2012 November #1
From East Texas to Cincinnati, from present-day racism to 1930s segregation, Isabelle and Dorrie travel together, a most unlikely pair of companions, and their stories unfold. After having been Isabelle's hairdresser for a decade, Dorrie thinks she knows Isabelle pretty well, even though Isabelle is a 90-something white woman and she is a 30-something black woman and even though Isabelle grew up privileged and she has struggled to begin her own shop. Over time, the women have bonded over shared stories, stories about Dorrie's divorce and Isabelle's favorite soap operas. And over time, they have become friends. Yet, when Isabelle asks Dorrie to drive her cross-country to a funeral, Dorrie is taken aback. It's easy enough to ask her mother to care for her children, but telling Teague, her new boyfriend, is another matter. Their relationship is still new, still tentative, and Dorrie has been burned by men too often. Once on the road, Isabelle's most secret story comes out. Growing up in a town that persecuted blacks who dared to stay after sunset, and under the thumb of a mother watching her daughter's every movement, Isabelle was the last young woman the people of Shalerville, Ky., might have expected to fall in love with a black man. The repercussions of their love shattered their lives, their families, their futures. Yet, their story isn't finished, and Dorrie wonders what lingers and whose funeral they are headed toward. As she puts the puzzle of Isabelle together, Dorrie has worries of her own. Can she trust Teague? Why have her son and his girlfriend stopped planning for the prom? Kibler's unsentimental eye makes the problems faced unflinchingly by these women ring true. Love and family defy the expected in this engaging tale. Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Journal Reviews 2013 February #2

Dorrie, a strong-willed African American, has a full, busy life as a single mother and hair-salon owner, but she makes time for Isabelle, her client and friend of many years. Because Isabelle is pushing 90, she can no longer drive and asks Dorrie for an extraordinary favor, to accompany her on a road trip from east Texas to Cincinnati to attend a funeral. As the miles unfold, Isabelle begins to recount her memories as a privileged young white girl growing up in 1930s Kentucky; her first love, the son of the African American housekeeper, and the tragic events that followed. VERDICT Debut author Kibler has written a moving tale of young, idealistic love in a headlong conflict with the reality of the injustices of that era. In the same vein as Kathryn Stockett's The Help, Kibler's story touches on multiple historical aspects of racial inequality and segregation as well as the lingering prejudice still evident in modern times. [See Prepub Alert, 8/9/12.]--Joy Gunn, Henderson Libs., NV

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 November #4

Kibler, in alternating first-person narrations, delivers a rousing debut about forbidden love and unexpected friendships over the span of six decades. Dorrie, an African-American hairstylist in East Texas, is asked by one of her regular clients, Isabelle, a woman in her 80s, for a strange favor--a ride to Cincinnati. On the road, Dorrie learns of Isabelle's painful past. Both in conversations in the car and via flashback from her teenage years, Isabelle reveals her former childhood of white privilege in a prejudiced Southern town and her love affair with her maid's brother, Robert, a black man. She and Robert married in secret only to find their clandestine relationship quickly torn apart. After giving up Robert for lost, Isabelle married again--this time for convenience, but Robert's return forces her to confront difficult questions about love, commitment, and her antagonistic relationship with her family. Now, as Dorrie and Isabelle reach Cincinnati, Isabelle reveals her reasons for going--to attend a funeral, which uncovers long-held emotions and secrets buried for 60 years. In this compelling tale, Kibler handles decades of race relations with sensitivity and finds a nice balance between the characters of Dorrie and Isabelle. Drawing from her own family history in Texas, Kibler relays a familiar story in a fresh way. Agent: Elisabeth Weed, Weed Literary. (Feb.)

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