September 15, 2013

Calling Me Home

Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler
2013 Blackstone Audio
Readers: Bahni Turpin and Lorna Raver
Finished 7/25/13
Rating: 4.5/5 (Terrific!)

If Julie Kibler's novel 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. But even with such iconic relatives, Calling Me Home stands on her own; this novel uncovers a painful past that tells us so much about who we are, where we're going, and the people who are traveling with us. –Wiley Cash, New York Times bestselling author of A Land More Kind Than Home

Publisher’s Blurb:

Sixteen-year-old Isabelle McAllister longs to escape the confines of her northern Kentucky hometown, but after her family's housekeeper's son rescues her from a Newport drunk, the boundaries seem smaller than ever.

Falling for a black boy in late 1930s Kentucky isn't just illegal, it's dangerous. Signs at the city limits warn Negroes, “Don’t let the sun set on you here.” Despite repeated warnings, Isabelle and Robert disregard the racial divide, starting a chain of events that threatens jobs, lives, and generations to come.

Decades later, black hairstylist Dorrie Curtis agrees to drive her elderly white client cross-country to a funeral. Over the years, Miss Isabelle has become more than just a customer, but the timing couldn't be worse. First, Dorrie's seeing a man she's afraid she could fall for, but one thing is more obvious than ever: Trust is not her strong suit. Second, she knows her teenager's in big trouble; he just hasn’t told her yet.

When a phone call from home confirms Dorrie's fears, Miss Isabelle's tale of forbidden love illuminates Dorrie’s dilemma, merging the past and present in a journey with unexpected detours and a bittersweet destination.

I’ve always been an avid reader, but prior to joining online book groups and blogging, I’m not sure where I found recommendations for a good book. I think more than anything else, I relied heavily on the publisher blurb and the praises on the back covers of books. Now, whenever I start to think about all the extra time I’d have to read if I were to give up blogging (posting as well as following), I remember all the great recommendations I’ve found through my blogmates, particularly those for audio books. I’ve listened to 13 audio books this year and most of those were chosen based on reviews and recommendations by other bloggers. I’ve really come to rely on JoAnn, Joy, Trish, Kathy, Diane, Juli and Staci for my on-going audio fix!

I first learned about Julie Kibler’s debut novel, Calling Me Home, from JoAnn (of Lakeside Musing). She wrote:
Multiple reader productions are usually a hit with me. In Calling Me Home, two stellar narrators team up to deliver an audio performance that is sheer perfection. I enjoyed Bahni Turpin in both The Help and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, but Lorna Raver, a popular reader whose name I instantly recognized, was a new narrator for me. I have since added several of her other credits to my audio wish list.

This (and her 5-star rating) was all I needed to read. I loved Turpin in the audio production of The Help and I recently discovered Raver while listening to The Aviator’s Wife. Both of these women are now among my favorite audio readers. Once I downloaded the book from my library and started listening while shelving books at work, I was completely hooked! Once again, JoAnn’s recommendation did not disappoint. I laughed out loud and felt my heartstrings tugged, and yet this is not a sentimental story. It’s a compelling story, rich with authentic characters and dialogue, full of thought-provoking themes, and one which I can strongly recommend to readers looking for a meaty book to discuss with friends or a book club.

Calling Me Home is not only about racism and forbidden love, but also about trust and the power of friendship. While it’s difficult to mark passages while listening to an audio book, I did take note of this:
It’s funny how sometimes you find a friend— in the likely places—and almost immediately, you can talk about anything. But more often than not, after the initial blush, you find you really have nothing in common. With others, you believe you’ll never be more than acquaintances. You’re so different, after all. But then this thing surprises you, sticking longer than you ever predicted, and you begin to rely on it, and that relationship whittles down your walls, little by little, until you realize you know that one person better than almost anyone. You’re really and truly friends.

Final Thoughts:

In a perfect world, this book would not exist because, in such a world, there would be no conflict here, and hence no story. In a perfect world, the color of one’s skin (or for that matter, one's gender) should not be an issue when it comes to love and marriage. In a perfect world, the right to marry should not be dictated by bigotry, ignorance or fear. While we may never live in a perfect world, we’ve certainly come a long way. Highly recommend!

Click here to read an excerpt.


  1. Most people loved this book but something about it didn't resonate with me. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

    1. I wonder if this is a case of print vs. audio. I loved listening to the two readers.

  2. I couldn't deal with the narrators - so less than 30 minutes into this one, I opted to get thhe print version. I know I want to read this one. Glad u liked the audio.

    1. Really?? I loved listening to the readers!

  3. I'm so glad you loved it, Les! This has got to be one of my all-time favorite audiobooks. Great review.

    1. Thanks for the great recommendation. Keep 'em coming!

  4. This one was a book club choice several months ago, and I didn't get to attend so I never finished the book. Thanks for the reminder and the push, Les. I think I'll really enjoy it.

    1. It was a quite entertaining on audio. Not sure if I would've enjoyed it as much had I read the print copy, though.

  5. I've got this in hardcover and am looking forward to it. So happy to see such a high rating from you!

    1. I hope the print version is as good as the audio. Ya just never know!


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