Category Archives: SheReads Book Club

Review: Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin’s Press (February 12, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 1250014522
  • Source: Publisher
Isabelle McAllister is a feisty eighty-nine year old woman. Over the years, she’s formed quite a friendship with her hairdresser, Dorrie Curtis, a single-black woman in her thirties. She’s followed Dorrie around as she’s moved from one salon to another, finally opening up her own. Yet what Isabelle asks of her has nothing to do with her hair…but her past. Isabelle asks Dorrie to put her life on hold and driver her from her home in Arlington, TX to a funeral in Cincinnati the very next day.

Dorrie is more than happy to fulfill Isabelle’s request. The two woman, separated by age and race, have known each other for years. Dorrie realizes it must mean a lot to Isabelle to attend this funeral and she’s honored to be asked. After making arrangements for her children and tying lose ends at home, the two women embark on the journey.

Although Isabelle has been Dorrie’s client for years and have shared in casual conversation, neither woman really knows a great deal about the other. As the miles pass, Isabelle opens up to Dorrie about her guarded past.  As a teen growing up in 1930s Kentucky, she fell in love with Robert Prewitt, the son of her family’s black housekeeper, in a town in which blacks weren’t allowed after dark. Isabelle reveals to Dorrie a young life riddled with pain and loss, further proving the importance of this journey. In turn, Dorrie learns a great deal about herself on this journey, that love is possible if you just open your heart to it.

Due to my own marriage, when I began the journey with this book, I knew it would hit home with me. While we never had to face many of the challenges Isabelle and Robert faced, there were definitely some obstacles we had to overcome. His life was never in danger but we had to deal with looks and glares when we went out in the public. Seventy years certainly seems like a long time, but not when you are forced to endure racism that has endured for centuries. Thankfully, however, our boys were born years later, in a time in which the color of one’s skin didn’t determine their fate or value in life.  Now that they are older, we remind them how lucky we are to be a family, that not too long ago the love we share would be forbidden…illegal.

I love that Kibler uses her own grandmother’s story as an inspiration for this novel. She truly captures the very essence of an inter-racial relationship…then and now. Additionally, the transformation that both Isabelle and Dorrie take on their journey is incredibly endearing and heartwarming. Two young women with vastly different lives brought together seemingly by fate for I do not believe Isabelle could have taken this journey with anyone but Dorrie. The relationship they share, while unlikely, is wholly believable and sincere, the gifts they give one another are invaluable.

Calling Me Home is an incredibly memorable and heartwarming novel, rich with subject matters meant to be discussed. It’s a novel that I dare you NOT to fall in love with, for I grew such a strong attachment to this book that I read it not once, but twice. Isabelle and Robert’s relationship really hit home with me, characters that were forced to deal a fate no one should ever have to face in the name of love. I cannot wait to discuss this book with my own book club once it comes out in paperback. Until then, I fondly anticipate my reunion with Isabelle and Dorrie…and Robert. Highly, highly recommended.

Calling Me Home is the February book club selection for the She Reads book club. Check out what other members of the blog network thought of this book and join in on the discussion!

Review: Man in the Blue Moon by Michael Morris

9781414368429

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Tyndale House Books (August 15, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 1414368429
  • Source: Publisher

Eighteen years ago, Ella Wallace married a man whom her aunt warned her about, a man who would prevent her from fulfilling her dreams of art in France. Little known to Ella, she was correct. Now she’s forced to struggle to get by with her three children, at risk for losing the land that has been in her family for generations.  She receives notification of a parcel, a large clock, that has arrived for her, presumably ordered by her husband.  She decides to accept the item in the hopes it can be sold for considerable profit. Instead, when she opens the large crate she finds a man,  Lanier Stillis, who claims to be her husband’s kin.

Lanier has left his home town after being accused of a crime he did not commit. His arrival at first is shocking but is ultimately a God-send, for he is able to assist Ella and her children in saving their home. Lanier is a mysterious man who has an unusual gift: he can heal the sick and wounded. This gift allows Lanier to quickly earn the trust of Ella and the townspeople but raises awareness of his existence and the judgmental eyes of those set out to tarnish Ella’s reputation.

Set in the  Florida panhandle during World War I, Man in the Blue Moon expertly captures small town, Southern life as the country around it is struggling with the war. Enriching the lush setting are incredibly developed and rich characters, Ella standing out as strongest character. Readers cannot help but sympathize but also look up to her character, struggling to face the life she’s been dealt.  The secondary characters add a great deal of depth and dimension to the story as well, in some cases behaving as central characters themselves. Each character has a purpose, be it big or small. Going in, the reader is unaware of the impact of each of the characters.

A truly talented writer, Morris grants readers with a tremendously atmospheric novel, the setting leaping from the pages as if it is a character in and of itself. Familiar with the setting of Apalachicola myself, it was incredibly rewarding to see the setting develop before my eyes.  Although this novel is categorized as a Christian fiction and does encompass topics such as faith and religion, the religious overtones are not excessive. Mixing mystery with humor and folklore, Man in the Blue Moon is destined to be discussed by book clubs, rich with a subject matter meant to be discussed.

Man in the Blue Moon is the November selection for the She Reads Book Club. Visit the website to join in on the discussion as well as read the reviews of other bloggers in the network.