Tag Archives: friendship

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: The Summer We Came to Life by Deborah Cloyed

  • Paperback:320 pages
  • Publisher:Mira; Original edition (May 31, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 0778312917
  • Source: Planned Television Arts

Childhood friends Samantha, Isabel, Kendra and Mina get together every summer at some luxurious vacation spot, joined by their parents. This year, however, the clan is not complete; Mina lost her battle with cancer six months ago.  They all join Sam at a beach house in the Honduras, struggling to fill the space missing since Mina’s death.

To Sam, it seems wrong not to have Mina around. In addition to dealing with her good friend’s death, she’s struggling with her own identity.  Her boyfriend, a weathly, attractive, French man, proposes marriage. She’s happy with him, but is that enough? She battles with how this big decision will influence her future?  She uses a journal Mina left behind as a sort of “Magic 8″ ball; she asks Mina a question, opening to a random spot in the journal, hoping for some of Mina’s wisdom.

Mina’s not the only one missing from this year’s get together.  Kendra, one of the strongest women of the group, chooses not to join her friends (and parents) this year.  She’s struggling with her own decision. She’s always been the one to make the right decision, always the responsible one. This time, however, things are different.  She’s unable to admit to her closest friends that she’s made a huge mistake, forcing instead to deal with this on her own.

The parents, the older generation, share their insights with the girls, each revealing an elaborate past the girls were unfamiliar with.  This information, and the “messages” Mina appears to be leaving behind for the girls, reveal to each one of them the paths they must take in order to find true happiness.

The Summer We Came to Life is quite an emotional read; not only are the girls still healing from the loss of their best friend, they are all struggling to find their own identities.  Each one thinks rather rationally, not realizing it is their own heart they should follow, the only thing in life that is consistently honest. Cloyed does an outstanding job at building and revealing each of these characters.  One can’t help but feel for Samantha, the lead character.  She seems to be taking Mina’s death the hardest, she still has yet to return to the “real world” and deal with her future.  Life is difficult, meant to be challenged.  Nothing worth living for every comes easily, a stark reality Sam must face.

There is a great deal of discussion about physics in this book, the idea that objects can move between alternate universes.  At first, I thought this was just random filler information thrown in for effect, but ultimately it becomes an integral part of the story, adding a slightly paranormal/”otherworldly” feel to the book.

The book is told in alternating chapters, each character taking the role as the narrator. At first, this got a bit confusing but once I understood and became familiar with each voice, the shift in characters became almost natural.

A lot of deep topics are discussed in this book, including important events in history such as the Iranian Revolution , the Civil Rights movements, as well as topics like the possibility of an after-life, making this the perfect book club selection. Additionally, the gorgeous Honduras setting makes this the perfect beach read.  I hate to refer to this as women’s fiction or chick-lit, because it’s so much more. It’s a book that leaves a resounding message, a book that I highly recommended.