Calling Me Home, published by St. Martin’s Press in February 2013, is set in 1930’s Kentucky as well as present-day and tells an intertwining story about forbidden love as well as an unlikely friendship. Isabelle, a white woman who almost ninety years old, enlists the help to of her black hairdresser to travel with her from Texas to Cincinnati to tend to some unfinished business from her past.
The journey is where the story unfolds, through Isabelle’s telling Dorrie about snippets of her life as well as through Dorrie’s trials as a single mom. As Isabelle’s past comes to light, we learn that she fell in love with a young black boy man and her family did everything they could to keep them apart and this becomes the heart and soul of the novel.
It never fails to rock me to the core when I read stories that involve racism, bigotry, along with an unhealthy concoction of ignorance and prejudice. Isabelle’s story grasped every emotion with each comfort , each hardship, and everything in between. As many of you know, I love my historical fiction and I, of course, loved reading the chapters narrated by Isabelle. I was transported back in time, feeling what she felt and seeing it all in my mind’s eye. Dorrie’s story, told in present day, was important to show the contrast between her life and Isabelle’s past and Julie did a nice job of weaving the two together. I did, however, have a hard time relating to Dorrie and I just didn’t connect with her as much as I did with Isabelle. Again, that’s probably the historical fiction lover in me at work.
I think I’m with the majority of others who’ve read this story when I admit that I cried off and on throughout the last sixty pages. I can’t say why without spoiling the ending but let me just say it was worth each tear and I’m very impressed that it was her debut novel. I’ve read about Julie’s inspiration for writing the story (read it by clicking here) which gives the story more weight for me as a reader. She took the “what if” and the created of something amazing out of a sliver of information and that appeals to the writer in me. If anything, this book serves as a wonderful reminder to follow your heart whenever and however you can. It’s worth fighting for.