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Calling Me Home
by Julie Kibler

Published: 2013-03-06
Hardcover : 525 pages
72 members reading this now
127 clubs reading this now
24 members have read this book
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 ...
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Introduction

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.

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Discussion Questions

1. When Isabelle first grows close to Robert, is her interest in him genuine, or does it have more to do with disobeying her parents and her society’s constraints? How does their relationship change as it grows?

2. What attracts Isabelle to Robert? What attracts Robert to Isabelle? In what ways do they compliment each other?

3. Were there moments during their courtship that you, as a reader, felt that they should not continue their relationship because of the risks?

4. What is the most important thing that Isabelle’s story teaches Dorrie? How does she apply Isabelle’s lessons to her relationship with Teague?

5. How do you feel about Dorrie’s choices in dealing with her son’s troubles?

6. What makes Dorrie and Isabelle’s friendship unique? How did you feel about the way they each reacted to others’ assumptions about them? Do you have a close relationship with your hairstylist? If not, do you think Dorrie and Isabelle's friendship is more unique to Isabelle's generation?

7. Do you feel that Calling Me Home accurately portrayed today’s lingering racial injustices and resentments? Did Calling Me Home cause you to examine your own prejudices, if any? Has it inspired you to think or act differently? How?

8. Do you have any sympathy for Isabelle’s mother? What about for Isabelle’s father?

9. How did you feel when you discovered Robert’s fate? Were you surprised to learn whose funeral Isabelle and Dorrie were attending?

10. Have you ever experienced a forbidden love relationship, or has anyone in your life fallen in love with someone "inappropriate" due to family or societal constraints? How did reading this story make you feel about that relationship? Did it change any of your thoughts or beliefs about how the relationship played out?

11. Did you enjoy the dual narratives in the past and present day? Were you more interested in one or the other? Why?

12. What was your reaction to learning the story was inspired by the author's own family lore (Her father told her that her grandmother fell in love with a black man in an era and locale that made it impossible)? Does knowing that make the story feel more "real?"

13. Had you heard of "sundown towns" before reading this story? What was your experience with them, if so, and what was your reaction to learning about them, if not?

Suggested by Members

racism
forbidden love
relationships
by Staciele (see profile) 02/26/14

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

“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

Book Club Recommendations

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
 
by JenPea78 (see profile) 08/01/17

 
by [email protected] (see profile) 08/07/19

My latest novel, Calling Me Home, straddled 1937-1950 Kentucky and a modern day Texas to Ohio road trip. A story of true love, complete loss, repeated heartbreak and perseverance. Life can be messy, life... (read more)

 
by bmedvid (see profile) 01/10/19

“With others, you believe you’ll never be more than acquaintances. You’re so different, after all. But them this thing surprises you, sticking longer than you ever predicted, and you b... (read more)

 
by Campfield (see profile) 11/15/18

 
by Grosland (see profile) 02/22/18

 
  "Calling me Home"by Nanakaz (see profile) 08/15/16

I really enjoyed reading this book. I couldn't wait to see what happens next. It was an easy read.

 
by cpowers (see profile) 07/19/16

The ending was shocking. No predictability in this book. The characters were real in my mind. I couldn't put it down.

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