Calling Me HomeCalling Me Home by Julie Kibler

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fiction, audio

Dorrie is a 30 something African-American hairdresser in Texas. One of her favorite clients is Isabelle, a 90 year old white woman. Dorrie considers them to be close but it is quite unexpected when Isabelle asks her if she can drive her to a funeral in Ohio – tomorrow.

Dorrie is having problems of her own with her family and decides that a few days away might be good for everyone. Once on the road Isabelle shocks Dorrie by starting to tell a story about her romantic relationship with a black man in Kentucky in 1939.

I listened to this on audio (partially during a road trip through Kentucky) and it was very well done.  There were two narrators; one for each character.  The production was great.  That being said –

For the love of all that is holy, don’t listen to this book on audio!

Seriously, you’ll thank me for that advice.  Here’s the problem.  If I had been reading this book I probably wouldn’t have put it down.  It would have been a page turner for me.  But when you listen to it on audio you can’t go any faster.  It is going to take 13 hours no matter how much you want to know what happens.

The book is suspenseful.  You know any book talking about a relationship between a white woman and a black man in Kentucky in 1939 isn’t going to be all sunshine and roses.  I found myself saying “Oh, this is bad” a lot.  I also found myself driving through Kentucky yelling into my voice search on my phone trying to find out how this books ends.  I was still going to listen to it anyway but I wanted to know a few things because my nerves were about shot.  There are no spoilers for this on the internet that I found.  I’ve very annoyed about that.  Sometimes you need spoilers for your own peace of mind so I’m putting a minor one here. It is in white so highlight the next space after this paragraph if you want to know.  If you are looking for spoilers in a panic because you need to know if it is going to be slightly ok before your next stop – you’re welcome.

Robert does not get murdered because of his relationship with Isabelle.

I liked Dorrie and her story.  I liked her reactions to thinking that she was doing a favor for a nice old lady and suddenly finding herself swept up in this secret from Isabelle’s past.  I wouldn’t have been as patient as this character was in finding out what happened.  (See “yelling into voice search in Kentucky”).

I found the young Isabelle to be very naive and because of that she was annoying at times.  A lot of what happened might have been lessened had she made more of an effort to stand up for herself instead of passively going along once things got rough.

Overall it is a sad book because of the damage that was done to everyone involved with Isabelle because of the tension between black and whites in Kentucky.  I highly recommend it.