Monday, April 7, 2014

#BookReview: Calling Me Home by Julie Kibbler

I’d seen so many book bloggers whose opinions I respect heap praise on Calling Me Home. I was wary of it because, from reading blurbs and reviews, it looked like a modern day version of Driving Miss Daisy and I’m so over anything that remotely resembles that. I can’t say that I was pleasantly surprised and totally changed my mind after reading it, but it wasn’t as Miss Daisy-ish as I thought it would be.

Octogenarian Isabelle McAllister is determined to make it to Cincinnati for a funeral and enlists her hairdresser, Dorrie Curtis, to help her get there. An 89 year old white woman and a 30something black woman on the road from Texas to Ohio certainly raises a few eyebrows, but Dorrie is fiercely loyal to Isabelle, who she sees as a mother figure. She’s not sure whose funeral they’re attending, but if Isabelle wants to go, she’ll get her there.

Told through a series of flashbacks, we learn that as a teen in Kentucky, Isabelle engaged in a forbidden affair with the son of her family’s housekeeper. Isabelle would disagree that it was an affair. For her, it was the great love of her life. For Robert, her lover, it was life threatening.

While I tried to keep an open mind as I read Calling Me Home, I was frustrated by Isabelle’s naivete that could have resulted in harm to Robert several times. I could blame some of it on youth, but most of the blame rests on living a privileged life without regard to how your actions affect others. In the meantime, Robert is willing to put his college career on hold to make this petulant child happy. Knowing that her brothers would kill him if given a chance, he’s still willing to risk it all for her. It feels like he makes life changing adult decisions while she’s a child playing grown up, so very annoying.

The present day story doesn’t do much for me either, as it focuses on Dorrie who is, of course, a single mother that makes bad decisions when it comes to men. And now her son is stealing money from her and probably knocked up his girlfriend. Luckily, Isabelle is going to tell her exactly what she needs to do to fix her life because…Miss Daisy.

I really tried to like this book, but the author relies too heavily on stereotypes and benevolent white women and magical Negroes, pretty much everything I hate in books.

Published: February 2013

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