Isabelle McAllister, white and eighty-nine years old, doesn’t seem to have much in common with her black thirtyish hairdresser, Dorrie Curtis, yet over the years the two have become friends. When Isabelle asks Dorrie to drop everything – kids, hair salon, new boyfriend – and take a road trip from Arlington, Texas to Cincinnati for a funeral, Dorrie agrees, even though Isabelle is quite elusive about the details of this funeral and why it’s so important she attend. Along the way, Isabelle reveals to Dorrie some huge secrets from her past, and Dorrie discovers exactly why Isabelle chose her specifically for this trip. And both women will be forever changed by this entire experience.
This is yet another title I don’t think I’d pick up but for the SheReads book club, and thank goodness for SheReads because I adored this novel. It did take me a little bit to get into the book and get a feel for these characters, but as soon as Isabelle began telling her story I was hooked. I couldn’t stop turning the pages, captivated by the situation she found herself in as a young girl in love.
I loved how Isabelle and Dorrie were friends before they began the trip, but by the time it was all over they were more like family. Isabelle truly let Dorrie into her heart in the most personal of ways, and along the way Dorrie opened up to Isabelle too. I found it so interesting how, while they were angry at the world for making assumptions about their relationship, they continued to make assumptions about one another, despite the fact that they kept learning that these assumptions were wrong. It just goes to show that years of deeply held beliefs and prejudices are incredibly hard to break, certainly not impossible but very difficult.
Another thing I loved about Calling Me Home was that, even though the reader has a pretty good idea of how things turn out for Isabelle, when learning about her past, it’s difficult to let go of the hope that things work out for her in the way she wants them to as a girl. Kibler does such a great job making the reader feel for these characters that I held out hope the entire novel that things would take a turn for the better, that Isabelle would end up with the life she wants, instead of the one the reader knows she got.
I really enjoyed this book and I think you will too. This is a story of an unlikely friendship, of race relations in the South from the 1930’s to today, of redemption, of forgiveness, of a love that stands the test of time. It’s a truly wonderful novel that I couldn’t put down. Julie Kliber is definitely an author I’ll be watching.