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Calling Me Home

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  34,423 ratings  ·  4,882 reviews
Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler is a soaring debut interweaving the story of a heartbreaking, forbidden love in 1930s Kentucky with an unlikely modern-day friendship.

Eighty-nine-year-old Isabelle McAllister has a favor to ask her hairdresser Dorrie Curtis. It's a big one. Isabelle wants Dorrie, a black single mom in her thirties, to drop everything to drive her from her h
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published February 12th 2013 by St. Martin's Press (first published August 20th 2012)
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Elisa S. Yes it's true it based on her grandmother.
Andi Pandi It is what you might expect for book based in the 30-40's. There is some racially driven profanity, but nothing that I would say was excessive. It is…moreIt is what you might expect for book based in the 30-40's. There is some racially driven profanity, but nothing that I would say was excessive. It is meant to make you feel how the characters felt. (less)

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Average rating 4.23  · 
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 ·  34,423 ratings  ·  4,882 reviews

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Julie Kibler
Dec 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
I hope you enjoy Calling Me Home! Thank you for reading and spreading the word if you like it!
Jan 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Christy by: JaHy☝Hold the Fairy Dust

5+ Stars

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Calling Me Home is an unforgettable book. It’s tragically beautiful, heart wrenching and devastating to read. Forbidden love at it’s finest.

This was a book that completely flew under my radar. I’m so happy a friend recommended it to me and I picked it up. Even though it wasn’t an easy read, it was worth it. I listened to this book on audio a
Elyse (retired from reviewing/semi hiatus) Walters
Update: A good friend is going to read this ... I'm excited.., 'again'!!!! I cried like a baby!!! If this is not an EMOTIONAL book...then I don't know what is. I wish Julie Kibler would write another book.(waiting Julie!!)
Don't even try to guess the ending .. Of 'who' the ladies are traveling to see and why. You won't figure it out. I promise.

If a reader does not get teary-eye 'at least' one time while reading this GEM of a STORY... THEN their heart is made of stone!

Lady Vigilante (Feifei)
5 stars!!!


One of my bookish resolutions for the year was to start reading more books that weren’t just pure romance and seeing a couple of friends who loved this particular book motivated me to finally pick it up. Without a doubt, this is a book that will be on my best books read in 2015 list. The content and sensitive topics explored were extremely
May 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
5 Stars!!


“Calling me Home” was one of the best books I’ve read this year and definitely one of the best books I’ve ever read. It’s a complex story that will impress you in so many ways. It’s a historical romance and it also is a women’s fiction/civil rights/women’s rights as well. It’s a beautiful, tragic story about love, life, family, loyalty, grief, racial and seclass="gr-hostedUserImg">
JaHy☝Hold the Fairy Dust

For anyone who's ever felt protective of a book, wished they could erase a story from their memory and/ or read the same novel numerous time, I'd just like to say, "I'm sorry for ever judging you. I get it now."

I LOVE this book so much, I'm mad at it. Yes, you read that correctly. I'm angry with the author (in the most playful way possible) for turning me into such an annoying,swoony, sappy giannoying,,
Jul 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, favourites
I had to have a chuckle when I read the subject line of this book, that I only just realised is being made into a movie, on IMBD. 'An elderly lady asks her hairdresser to drive her to a funeral in Texas'. It's so much more than that!

Calling Me Home tells us the heart breaking and wonderful story of Isabelle and Dorrie, and of the tragic forbidden love in the late
Sep 09, 2014 rated it liked it
I wanted a lot of things. I wanted eloquent, sophisticated language. I wanted fleshy characters. I wanted witty or wise dialogue. I wanted cool sentences to highlight. I wanted to be wowed. Lower my expectations, I tell myself.

This is a story about a young black hairdresser, Dorrie, who is driving an old white woman, Isabelle, to a mysterious funeral far away. There’s a chapter for each of them, back and forth. Dorrie talks about what’s happening in her life now; Isabelle tells about
Allison ❤️Will Never Conquer Her TBR❤️
Jan 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Allison ❤️Will Never Conquer Her TBR❤️ by: Lady Vigilante (Feifei)

1/16/15 Kindle Daily deal! I paid $14.00 a week's now $1.99!

4.5 Heart-wrenching, Unfair Stars!

Calling Me Home
was a beautiful, emotionally charged, all-consuming story of love and loss. On my quest for something emotional that would tug at my heart strings (yes, I love a book hangover that leaves a gaping hole in my chest-don't judge), I saw a review from a friend that told me this would deliver in spades. Epically...

1/16/15 Kindle Daily deal! I paid $14.00 a week's now $1.99!

4.5 Heart-wrenching, Unfair Stars!

Calling Me Home
was a beautiful, emotionally charged, all-consuming story of love and loss. On my quest for something emotional that would tug at my heart strings (yes, I love a book hangover that leaves a gaping hole in my chest-don't judge), I saw a review from a friend that told me this would deliver in spades. Epically...

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Calling Me Home tells the story, in both past and present tense, of Miss Isabelle McAllister, a 90-year old white widow. Presently, she's asked her hairdresser and friend Dorrie (30's, single, black mother), to drive her to a funeral in Cincinnati. The reader isn't told who passed away, but in flips to the past, we learn of Isabelle's story. The story of forbidden love, her love of Robert, the black son of her family's housekeeper.

Present tense, Dorrie listens to Miss Isabelle while managing this cross-country trip with a feeble yet snappy old woman. She too is struggling with life drama related to her teen son, unease of dating after being hurt by so many deadbeat men, yet she puts it all aside to help her friend get to a funeral that's obviously very important to her.  photo 9CABD14A-1C7C-46BF-B556-17CE5770C3E3_zpst8gbvmkj.jpg The author did a stellar job of putting the reader essentially in the backseat of this old Buick, patiently listening to Isabelle's story of forbidden love. My heart broke a million times over listening to the lengths Isa would go to see her teen love. This is in the 1930s where blacks were segregated from whites, especially after darkness falls. Every stolen opportunity was had for her to sneak away to be with her forbidden love. But all this is fruitless as, if anyone found a black boy with a white girl, his life would be taken, much less any chance of future happiness or marriage. I was simply blown away by the level of bigotry in those times. And I won't even start with my opinion of her mother!

Then we flip back to the road trip, Dorrie's cell phone ringing again with teen drama she's trying to solve via phone. It was all just...normal (having teens at home myself, this was true to life). Even in current day, we are painfully aware of the second glances given to a younger black woman with a frail little white lady...surely they can't be "friends." It's all just a bit..unusual.

Miss Isabelle. Where do I start? Can I have her? I want a Grandma just like she was...frail yet tough, her filters long faded. She had no problem putting grown men in their places and I can't say enough how AWESOME the character development of her was. Both characters, in fact. I felt their connection, two women of different race, driving to a known destination, playing crossword puzzles, reliving a love story painfully gripping. Dorrie just say back and let Miss Isabelle painfully drip feed her life story. Back at age 17 and forward...

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Obviously there's death at the end of the story...the title says as much. I won't say who, but even as the reader thinks he/she knows how it ends, it all seems to creep up on you at once. And, oh jeez, it left me in tears! I thought I knew how it was going to end...had it all pictured in my head, but that wasn't entirely the case.

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The way the story is drip fed to the reader was a bit slow for me in the beginning (thus deduction of .5*) but it's all to invest the reader 100% in their story, both past and present. And in the end, I felt completely drained. empty emptiness that's caused by loss, loss of chances, loss of love, loss of life.

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I understand, a book like this is not for everyone but those readers looking for something different, a story to become completely emotionally invested in, a story to soak into your heart, Calling Me Home delivers in spades.

***Thank you, Jahy, for holding my hand each torturous step of the way. And Feifei, for such a beautiful review, drawing me to this beautiful love story. Here's a link to Feifei's review that sold me on this book-

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Carla ☺Did I Say That☺
6 **Hands down the best book I've read in 2014** Stars!!!!
I'm sorry but 5 stars doesn't do this book justice!!!
“Words can not describe the level of emotion I'm feeling right now...this book was amazing!!"

**Review to Come**
Jan 10, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: br
This story is about a hair stylist in her thirties named Dorrie, who is driving her almost ninety year old good friend and client Isabelle to a mystery funeral several states away. While on this long road trip, Isabelle tells Dorrie about her life in 1939, and her forbidden love story with Robert Prewitt, the black son of her family's housekeeper. The story then alternates between Dorrie's present day pov and Isabelle's past pov.

So, I was fully expecting to love this book, everythin
Feb 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
‘Calling Me Home’ is the debut novel by Julie Kibler!

Shalerville, Kentucky 1939.

A time in history where black maids and handymen can tend to white households during the day,but are banished by nightfall.
Sixteen year old Isabelle born into a life of white wealth and privilege,finds herself increasingly attracted to Robert the ambitious son of their black housekeeper.

“When you fall in love, every
Kind of reason flies at the
newly opened windows of the brain”

Jessica Jeffers
Oct 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley, fiction
What a pleasant surprise this book was. It's the kind of book that makes me miss working in a bookstore because it would be such an easy recommendation to make to customers. It's good, engaging and well-written, and it's got a clear audience who will eat it up.

One part The Help, one part Water for Elephants, this compelling debut novel is the story of two women travelling from Arlington to Cincinnati for a funeral. Isabelle is 89 and unable to make the trip alone so she asks Dorrie, her African American haird
Apr 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Oh... My heart still breaks for Isabel and Robert...
Dec 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ingie by: Lisa *-* GiViNg It To YoU * LoCk StOcK & TwO SmOkiNg BaRrELs
Written January 27, 2015

5 Stars - An epic heart wrenching beautiful novel. -
A without questions fantastic “I'll never forget it” story.

I need time to put myself together. — That was a week ago and it has been a struggle to go back on the memory-line about this book. I don't think I have become so emotionally moved by a book since I read Jojo Moyes' novel, Me Before You.

All tissues were used and I'm still, a week later, easily moved to tears thinking about this story. This will be quite "short and nice". (Hopefully without storstory.
Candida Pugh
Mar 30, 2013 rated it it was ok
The best adjective to describe Kibler's effort is "soapy". One improbable moment follows another in a failed attempt to keep you imagining these cardboard sticks are people. If you imagine that in the late 1930's and early 1940's, a 16 year old white girl living in Kentucky could be oblivious to the peril in which her flirtation with a black man would place him, maybe you can swing with this plot. My own take is that "Miss Isabelle" (if she were a credible character) would be either crazy, incre ...more
Debbie Oliphant
Jul 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Oh boy, where do I begin. I am emotionally drained after finishing this amazing book and would love to add 5 more stars to the rating.

I was drawn in from the first chapter with Miss Isabelle's urgent request to Dorrie, her hairdresser and friend, to take her to a funeral. She doesn't reveal anything else, yet Dorrie knows this is important and she complies. The thousand mile road trip unweaves a secret that Miss Isabelle has not had the courage to share and was too painful to tell. B
Lisa *-* GiViNg It To YoU * LoCk StOcK & TwO SmOkiNg BaRrELs
Review posted 5/1/15

....I wanted to climb the highest hill I could find to shout until our world saw it's error....

This story of forbidden love in 1930s Kentucky left me speechless . .....a story that intricately entwines the past with the present.

Heartbreakingly Beautiful, Compelling.....

Eighty-nine-year-old Isabelle McAllister has a favor to ask her hairdresser Dorrie Curtis. It's a big one. Isabelle wants Dorrie, a black single mom in her thirties, to drop everything to drive her from her home in Arlington, Texas, to a funeral in Cincinnati. With no cl5/1/15
♡ Kim ♡
Jun 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: i-own
What a beautifully heartbreaking story! I have had this one on my to-read shelf for awhile. I actually started it and gave up, thinking I have a pile of books I'd most likely enjoy much more than this one. Then as I pushed it aside, I received a little nudge from a Goodreads friend to read it now (demanding, I know!). But I have to admit, she was right, and I did, indeed, love it. In fact, I am pleasantly surprised and pleased how much emotion I felt for the characters and their stories. I highl ...more
Calling Me Home reads like a movie. I could envision every little detail. Some of it was beautiful and some so deplorable that my heart ached.

The story is told in my absolute favorite way - starting at the end with hints and then going back to the beginning. It’s the story of a middle aged African American mother and hairdresser being asked by her 89-year-old white client to take her on a road trip to attend a funeral.

While on this road trip, the older woman tells her story about how she fell
Jan 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical
I never purposely choose books that make be cry. Crying is not a kink of mine. This one snuck up on me with stealth via my friend Ingela. Oh I knew from the blurb that there was a possibility but I decided to join in the read anyway.

Did I cry? – OH YES LOTS. Am I angry? – OH YES at the bigotry, racism dealt with in the story. Angrier, more and more, that we still have to deal with this even in our day and age both within us and in the world we live in. I liked that Kibler did not shy away from exploring a
Lisa B.
Dec 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
My Thoughts

Not many stories make me cry, but the ending of this one sure did. The relationship between Dorrie and Isabelle was special because they simply liked each other for who they were, without concern for skin color or age.. What a bond between these two women!

I loved the way the author unfolded the story of Isabelle’s past in between chapters of Dorrie’s current life challenges. My heart ached for Isabelle’s lost love. I rooted for Dorrie to find peace with her str
Diane S ☔
Dec 04, 2012 rated it liked it
3.5 This was a heartfelt, poignant story about a love across the color divide in the 1930's, when this was not something that was accepted. Really loved the relationships in this novel, Isie being so much older but a good friend to Dorrie all the same. Together they brought closure and a new way of looking at the problems they needed to solve. These are the two characters with a few more that I will remember from this story. Racial affairs, relationships, and friendship were all explored in this ...more
Jan 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
You might read reviews of Julie Kibler's debut novel that compare it to The Help or even To Kill a Mockingbird. And while Kibler's story certainly contains a healthy dose of racism and conflict, the heart of the book is a love story--a tragic tale of forbidden love and the consequences that love carries with it throughout generations. While it seems redundant to summarize the book here, I will say that Isabelle's story is one that grasps you from the first chapter and won't let you go.

Kibler we
"It's an irony that young people mostly see things as black and white . . . All or nothing. Sometimes, in spite of their enthusiasm for embracing change, it takes years of experience before they truly see the whole picture."

And sometimes it takes a lifetime to find the right person (a kindred spirit, a true and rare friend) in which to share the secrets never before spoken.

Two women. One relatively young, the other considerably aged. One with ebony hair and skin, the other whitish-blue. Both s
Jan 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler
I loved this book, it was such a great story. When I had to put it down I could not wait to get back to it. You know, when you are reading something that you wish the book would not end. when you have only a quarter of the book left. The time period shifts back and forth from the 1930's to the present day. Isabelle who is white asks her African american hair stylist named Dorrie to drive her to a funereal from Kentucky to Ohio.

Isabelle is in her n
Feb 18, 2013 rated it liked it
3.5 Stars

Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler is a beautiful debut Novel telling the story of a forbidden love in 1930s Kentucky with a modern-day friendship.

Eighty nine year old Isabelle McAllister has a favour to ask her hairdresser Dorrie Curtis. It's a big one. Isabelle wants Dorrie, a black single mom in her thirties, to drop everything to drive her from her home in Arlington, Texas, to a funeral in Cincinnati. With no clear explanation why and they must leave the following day.
Judy Collins
Julie Kibler's CALLING ME HOME, a poignant, debut novel; a winner out of the gate, filled with careful description and woven skillfully!

A vivid, engaging first book with strong characters, dramatic storytelling, which should establish Julie Kibler as a strong novelist. She most definitely possesses a gift of telling a tragic story, in an entertaining way with an inspiring takeaway of friendship and love. (She has just been added to my favorite author list, and so look forward to following this author)!

Jan 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book! Julie Kibler is an amazing first time novelist! I hope she is busy writing her next book, because I can't wait to read it! I hesitated to spend $12 on a kindle book, but it was so worth it! I have to say the first third of the book was a little slow, but midway through, I couldn't put it down. I felt attached to Dorrie, & especially Isabelle. I was drawn to this book, after being in an interracial relationship myself, years ago. I had a taste of how hurtful people can be t ...more
Jan 19, 2015 marked it as to-read
Very exciting to be starting this audiobook!
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Julie Kibler is the bestselling author of Home for Erring and Outcast Girls and Calling Me Home, which was an IndieNext List pick, Target Club Pick, and Ladies' Home Journal Book Club Pick, published in fifteen languages. She has a bachelor's degree in English and journalism and a master's degree in library science and lives with her family, including four rescued dogs and cats, in Texas.
“The heart is a demanding tenant; it frequently makes a strong argument against common sense.” 26 likes
“The heart is a demanding tenant” 13 likes
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