OVERRIDE

Calling Me Home

A Novel

Julie Kibler

St. Martin's Press

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 home in Arlington, Texas, to a funeral in Cincinnati. With no clear explanation why. Tomorrow.

Dorrie, fleeing problems of her own and curious whether she can unlock the secrets of Isabelle's guarded past, scarcely hesitates before agreeing, not knowing it will be a journey that changes both their lives.

Over the years, Dorrie and Isabelle have developed more than just a business relationship. They are friends. But Dorrie, fretting over the new man in her life and her teenage son’s irresponsible choices, still wonders why Isabelle chose her.

Isabelle confesses that, as a willful teen in 1930s Kentucky, she fell deeply in love with Robert Prewitt, a would-be doctor and the black son of her family's housekeeper—in a town where blacks weren’t allowed after dark. The tale of their forbidden relationship and its tragic consequences makes it clear Dorrie and Isabelle are headed for a gathering of the utmost importance and that the history of Isabelle's first and greatest love just might help Dorrie find her own way.

BOOK EXCERPTS

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1
 
Miss Isabelle, Present Day
 
 
I ACTED HATEFUL to Dorrie the first time we met, a decade or so ago. A person gets up in years and she forgets to use her filters. Or she’s beyond caring. Dorrie thought I didn’t care for the color of her skin. No truth to that at all. Yes, I was angry, but only because my beauty operator—hairdresser they call them these days, or stylist, which sounds so uppity—left with no notice. I walked all the way into the shop, which is no small effort when you’re old, and the girl at the counter told me my regular
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REVIEWS

Praise for Calling Me Home

"Kibler’s unsentimental eye makes the problems faced unflinchingly by [Isabelle and Dorrie] ring true. Love and family defy the expected in this engaging tale." —Kirkus

"In Calling Me Home, Kibler has crafted a wholly original debut. . . . There’s no denying the pull of Kibler’s story." —Booklist

"A rousing debut about forbidden love and unexpected friendships. . . . 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.” —Publishers Weekly

"This is deeply affecting coming-of-age story with radiant characters who will remain with the reader long after the last page is turned." —Romantic Times

“You’d never guess that Calling Me Home is a debut novel, Julie Kibler’s writing is so wise and assured. Although the two strong women she’s created come from completely different backgrounds, the bond that grows between them is extraordinary, touching and believable. I laughed out loud in places and had tears in my eyes as I turned the last page. I can’t wait to watch Julie Kibler’s star rise!” –New York Times bestselling author Diane Chamberlain

"Clear your schedule before you open up this thoroughly engaging book. CALLING ME HOME is a story about love in its many incarnations—in romance, friendships, and families; loves lost, and love regained. Kibler illuminates racial tensions many of us don’t realize still exist in this country, and shows how small acts of faith can make big inroads to acceptance. I closed the final page with a smile and a tear, humbled and eager to embrace life." - Margaret Dilloway, author of How to Be an American Housewife

"Pop some corn and grab a hankie before you start CALLING ME HOME because you won't want to put it down until you come to the end of this true journey of the heart." - Carleen Brice, author of Orange Mint and Honey

"Calling Me Home is a tenderly wrought story of love and secrets, heartbreak and healing, and the remarkable power of friendship to heal two women who find each other across the lines of time, generation, and race. Julie Kibler has written an original and moving debut novel that will linger with you for a long, long time." --Barbara O'Neal, The Garden of Happy Endings

“Julie Kibler grabbed me on the very first page and didn’t let go…What a marvel of a debut novel.  Black and white, young and old, searching and missing and finding in each other a special understanding, companionship, and love, these characters are real and addictive. Calling Me Home was keenly conceived, impeccably plotted, and beautifully written.”  –Barbara Delinsky, New York Times bestselling author of Escape and Not My Daughter

“Touching and unforgettable, Julie Kibler’s CALLING ME HOME is the kind of story that pulls you in from page one, grips your heart and absolutely won’t let go.”  --Sarah Jio, author of The Violets of March and The Bungalow

"Calling Me Home is journey into the heart where secrets hide and love reigns. Across the bridge of race and generation, Julie Kibler brings together two  who profoundly influence each other as they reveal their stories and their heartbreak. With a stunning plot twist, Kibler reminds the reader that things aren't always as they appear and love has its own life." --Patti Callahan Henry, New York Times bestselling author of Coming Up For Air

"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

In the Press

Fiction Review: Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler. St. Martin's, $24.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-250-01452-8
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
- Publishers Weekly
CALLING ME HOME by Julie Kibler | Kirkus
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.
- Kirkus Reviews

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Julie Kibler

  • JULIE KIBLER began writing Calling Me Home after learning a bit of family lore: as a young woman, her grandmother fell in love with a young black man in an era and locale that made the relationship impossible. When not writing, she enjoys travel, independent films, music, photography, and corralling her teenagers and rescue dogs. She lives in Arlington, Texas. Calling Me Home is her debut.

  • Julie Kibler
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Calling Me Home

A Novel

Julie Kibler

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FROM THE PUBLISHER

St. Martin's Press

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