17 December, 2013

Calling me home by Julie Kibler [Kathy, Collections Orewa]

This book was described as being in the same vein as Kathryn Stockett’s The Help and it does have the same underlying themes of discrimination and racial prejudice, but in this tale the relationships between the white and black characters are much more intimate and personal.
Set in the 1930s and the present time, this is the story of Isabelle, the daughter of a wealthy family in Kentucky. Against convention, she falls in love with the son of her family’s housekeeper and they embark on a secret affair. Many years later when Isabelle is nearly 90, she asks her black hairdresser Dorrie to drive her to a funeral from their hometown in Texas to Cincinnati. She gives no other details but Dorrie agrees and as the trip progresses, Isabelle’s story unfolds. It is not until they reach Cincinnati that Dorrie discovers the significance of the journey.
The story alternates between Isabelle’s youth and the present day with Dorrie. The two women are both strong characters and have an interesting relationship- despite Isabelle’s brusqueness you can sense the fondness Dorrie has for her. At the beginning of the story I found Isabelle to be a bit one-dimensional but as the book progresses her experiences change and strengthen her personality.
This story of lost loves, inequality, loyal friendship and reflecting on past times was a good thought-provoking read with a good mix of sadness and optimism. No spoilers, but a very well crafted ending...

Title: Calling me home
Author: Julie Kibler
ISBN: 9781250014528
Published: 2013
Publisher: St Martin's Press

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