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Comparisons to The Help (2009) are inevitable, and though there are echoes of Kathryn Stockett's popular best-seller to be found in Calling Me Home, Kibler has crafted a wholly original debut. The novel, set in 1930s Kentucky, centers on a forbidden romance between a teenage white girl, Isabelle McAllister, and Robert Prewitt, the black son of the McAllister's maid. Chafing under her mother's restrictive notions of female propriety, Isabelle finds a kindred spirit in Robert. The two begin to meet clandestinely, but any hope of a future together is threatened by the overwhelming racism of the era. Against impossible odds, the pair elopes to neighboring Cincinnati, but their happiness is short-lived when Isabelle's thuggish brothers drag her back to the family home. The sad story is presented in flashback, as told by a now-elderly Isabelle to her black hairdresser, Dorrie, while the two drive cross-country to a funeral. Some may object that the civil rights struggle is once again being filtered through a white perspective, but there's no denying the pull of Kibler's story.--Wetli, Patty Copyright 2010 Booklist
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Kibler, in alternating first-person narrations, delivers a rousing debut about forbidden love and unexpected friendships over the span of six decades. Dorrie, an African-American hairstylist in East Texas, is asked by one of her regular clients, Isabelle, a woman in her 80s, for a strange favor-a ride to Cincinnati. On the road, Dorrie learns of Isabelle's painful past. Both in conversations in the car and via flashback from her teenage years, Isabelle reveals her former childhood of white privilege in a prejudiced Southern town and her love affair with her maid's brother, Robert, a black man. She and Robert married in secret only to find their clandestine relationship quickly torn apart. After giving up Robert for lost, Isabelle married again-this time for convenience, but Robert's return forces her to confront difficult questions about love, commitment, and her antagonistic relationship with her family. Now, as Dorrie and Isabelle reach Cincinnati, Isabelle reveals her reasons for going-to attend a funeral, which uncovers long-held emotions and secrets buried for 60 years. In this compelling tale, Kibler handles decades of race relations with sensitivity and finds a nice balance between the characters of Dorrie and Isabelle. Drawing from her own family history in Texas, Kibler relays a familiar story in a fresh way. Agent: Elisabeth Weed, Weed Literary. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Dorrie, a strong-willed African American, has a full, busy life as a single mother and hair-salon owner, but she makes time for Isabelle, her client and friend of many years. Because Isabelle is pushing 90, she can no longer drive and asks Dorrie for an extraordinary favor, to accompany her on a road trip from east Texas to Cincinnati to attend a funeral. As the miles unfold, Isabelle begins to recount her memories as a privileged young white girl growing up in 1930s Kentucky; her first love, the son of the African American housekeeper, and the tragic events that followed. VERDICT Debut author Kibler has written a moving tale of young, idealistic love in a headlong conflict with the reality of the injustices of that era. In the same vein as Kathryn Stockett's The Help, Kibler's story touches on multiple historical aspects of racial inequality and segregation as well as the lingering prejudice still evident in modern times. [See Prepub Alert, 8/9/12.]-Joy Gunn, Henderson Libs., NV (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.