Calling Me Home – Julie KiblerCALLING ME HOME BOOK COVER
St. Martin’s Press/2013
By – Sheri de Grom

Julie Kibler’s debut novel, Calling Me Home, is my first ten star read of 2013. To say it deserves less would be unforgivable.

I’ve never thought of rating reads in terms of stars but Calling Me Home captured me on page one and held tight. It still has a grip on me weeks after I finished reading.

In valuing this debut novel, I told others it was equal to, if not better than The Help. I recognize that’s a bold statement to make, and while others argued with me, they hadn’t yet read Calling Me Home.

The Help Bppk CoverI reread The Help. The reasoning behind my bold statement: the provocative and sensitive telling of forbidden love embedded in racism, plus the compelling story of an elderly white woman and much younger black woman. These two women forge an unlikely friendship that leads to a tender, intimate understanding of one another.

During my reading of Calling Me Home, I visualized it as a Broadway play much as Love Letters is made up of love letters read by two characters: Melisa Gardner and Andrew Makepeace. What Love Letters lacks in physical movement it more than makes up for in emotional action. The same would be equally true of Isabelle and Dorrie.

Isabelle, an eighty-nine-year-old white woman has a favor to ask her hairdresser Dorrie. It’s a big one. Isabelle wants Dorrie to close her shop, find someone to care for her children and drive her from Arlington, Texas, to a funeral in Cincinnati. Isabelle doesn’t tell Dorrie who died but Dorrie can tell it’s important or Isabelle wouldn’t have asked.

The two women formed an unusual friendship over the years and as Dorrie moved from one beauty shop to the next, Isabelle followed her. Dorrie was eventually able to open her own shop but the day came when Isabelle was no longer able to drive. Dorrie began to visit Isabelle at home each week to do her hair.

Ms. Kibler’s storytelling is showcased wherein Isabelle’s reflection of the way things were in the late 1030’s. Every other chapter is told in Dorrie’s point of view and takes place in present day. Each woman has a distinctive vocabulary and cadence. I felt as if I was along for the ride as Isabelle and Dorrie drove across the country to attend the funeral.

The reader has a sense of urgency and Ms. Kibler holds the element of surprise, shock value if you will, until the end of the book. I’ve read dozens of reviews about this novel, and no one said they guessed the ending of this novel.

Calling Me Home has exactly what E. M. Foster (author of Aspects of the Novel) says every great novel must have. “The characters must be capable of surprising us in a convincing way.”

The subject matter of Calling Me Home begs to be talked about. If you don’t already belong to a book club, you might find yourself forming one of your own. You’ll be compelled to discuss the characters and the many obstacles society, families and the characters themselves hide behind.

I unconditionally recommend this novel.

About Sheri de Grom

Retired Fed/JAG, 5 yrs. on Capitol Hill. Former book buyer for B and N. Concerned citizen of military drawdown. Currently involved in mental healthcare reform, health care strategist and actively pursuing legislative change wherein dual retirees are exempt from enrolling in Medicare at their own discretion without losing tertiary healthcare benefits. Monitor and comment on Federal Register proposed legislation involving Mental Health, Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, Medicare and rural libraries. Licensed OSHA Inspector to include Super Fund sites. Full time caregive to Vietnam era veteran. Conceptualized, investigated possible alternatives, authored, lobbied for, and successfully implemented Title X, Section 1095 (known as the Third Party Collection Program of Federal Insurance).
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  1. char says:

    Your review sold me. I’m adding this to my to-read list on Good Reads. I loved The Help…so can’t wait to read this one too.

  2. Adding this to my ” must read list!” Welcome back to blogging!

  3. JK Bevill - Lost Creek Publishing says:

    Reblogged this on lost creek publishing.

  4. So happy that your back and better than ever! First off, a big thank you for giving us, what looks to be, one of our best reads this year. We’ve read close to twenty or so books thus far & have yet to find the shining gem that’s kept us talking long after the read. And thanks to you, we are chomping at the bits to get this one, as we know you to be a very smart, passionate and avid reader. When we started reading your post and seen that you made comparisons with “The Help” we were a little taken back. But you gave a brilliant review of the book while keeping respect for the other and what set them apart. We have added this book to our “Must-Read” list although I don’t see it staying there long. Once again, happy to have you back Sheri and we will let you know how much we love it once we’re done reading.

    • I look forward to hearing your opinion after reading ‘Calling Me Home.’ I knew I was going out on a limb in comparing the novel to ‘The Help’ (and I enjoyed The Help immensely) but ‘Calling Me Home’ resonated with me on so many levels. I know it won’t happen but I can so see it as a Broadway Play – it would be exquisite.

  5. I heard this was a good book, but I have yet to read it. Thanks for giving a great recommendation. Congratulations on your award! 🙂

  6. Patty B says:

    Sounds very good, I will have to check this one out. I can’t wait. Welcome back – I missed your reviews. 😀

  7. Welcome back! Calling Me Home sounds wonderful. I’m adding it to my TBR pile.

  8. You are back with a bang, Sheri! I hope the healing is going well and you are feeling as fit and strong as you sound! This book sounds like it must go straight to the top of my TBR pile. Thank you !

    • Patricia – You know how much I love to read and when I’m stopped in my tracks and won’t do anything but read – it’s definitely a show stopper at our house. Calling Me Home is one of the best debut novels I’ve ever read. I can see it so clearly in my mind as a Broadway play but it’s headed to the big screen instead.

      In the meantime, I have a wonderful new read waiting for me:) Thank you so much.

  9. Sheri, it’s so good to have you back! And wish a 10-star book, no less — I just ordered my copy, and can’t wait to start reading. 🙂

    • Laurie – I almost sent you an e-mail while I was reading the book. I just couldn’t wait to tell you about ‘Calling Me Home’. Be prepared to stay up late or clear time in the day for reading – Calling Me Home is a non-stop read. I didn’t need a single pain pill while reading this novel and I read it the first week after surgery. I’ve had pain pills since I finished reading this book. I went into withdrawals when I closed the back cover. I will be watching this author.

  10. Hello Sheri! So glad you’re back and with an amazing review, to boot! I’m so excited by this book. I’ve told my book club you recommend it and I think it’s going to be our next book or next next book. 🙂 Either way, I CAN’T WAIT to read it!

    Hope the healing is still going well. I’ve missed you, my sweet friend.

    • Tameri – I’ve missed you too. However, I’ve managed to read some of your blogs along the way and am waiting for more of your exciting news.
      Calling Me Home is an amazing debut novel and I flat couldn’t put it down. I read it well over a month ago and the characters continue to ride around in my mind. For me – that makes for a great book. I have another show stopper coming up next week. In the meantime, I do hop you’ll enjoy Calling Me Home. Sheri

  11. Wow. What grabbed me was your line, “I’ve read dozens of reviews about this novel, and no one said they guessed the ending of this novel.”
    I love that. Makes for an intriguing read. Thank you, Sheri, and indeed WELCOME BACK!

    • Hello, Patti – Calling Me Home is one of the most compelling novels I’ve read in a very long time. i can hardly wait to see what Julie Kibler writes next. I’ll definitely be looking for her next novel. This was a terrific read. I could not put it down.

  12. Mae Clair says:

    Welcome back, Sheri! It’s wonderful to see you back in the swing of doing reviews again. Calling Me Home sounds like a powerful novel that made a powerful impact on you. Thanks for sharing your love of another good book!

    • Hello, Mae. Calling Me Home is a novel for everyone. It addresses modern day racism head-on and doesn’t let go. The story between the two women is funny at times and other times it’s amazing how spot-on the dialogue is. Thanks for stopping by.

  13. High praise indeed ..I shall add it to my list!


    On Thu, Apr 4, 2013 at 2:37 AM, Sheri de Grom

  14. Pingback: Word Press Family Award | Ajaytao 2010

  15. Whoa … you back with a bullet !!! Welcome home. We’ve missed your book reviews and this one does not dissapoint. Ah, Sheri … now I will once more build my TBR pile to impossible heights and love every minute. Thanks … glad you are back on point 🙂

    • Florence – I had to lead the pack with this novel. It has suspense, family dynamics. and oh yes – the precious daughter that went missing on her third birthday. It’s one of the most compelling books I’ve read in a very long time.

  16. Ajaytao2010 says:

    I Nominate for Word Press Family Award
    please accept and oblige

    • Ajaytao – I’m so honored and humbled at the same time. Your posts are so full of wisdom and beauty. Every word moving into a phrase and the pictures — they send magical whispers into my soul.

      • Ajaytao2010 says:

        oh Sheri your heart is so wonderful, it sees beauty everywhere,
        in everything,

        I am so glad to be friends with you

        bowing to a wonderful soul

        • And I with you. I’ve met so many wonderful bloggers as a result of meeting you. You spread your arms wide and invited us all in. It’s truly an amazing gift that you share with us.

          You travel life with such grace and humility. Perhaps one day I will have learned from your example and your gentle reach. I so wish to reach that place. I’ll work towards that goal one day at a time.

          • Ajaytao2010 says:

            oh Sheri you are so humble but I respect you and I love you, I have learned from you and bloggers out there

  17. iamforchange says:

    Sheri, its good to see you back and I do hope you are recovering nicely and it would appear you are! Thank you for sharing this lovely review and thank you for your kindness and support! Hope you have a great day! 🙂 joe

    • Hello, Joe. It’s wonderful to be back in the blogging universe. ‘Calling Me Home’ is a poignant story and I recommend it to both my men and women friends. I hope to visit more of your blogs today. Your blogs are always so insightful. Always a pleasure to read.

  18. Thank you, Lisa. I sincerely appreciate your stopping by.

    • lisaelskerarvid says:

      💖 Bare hyggelig kjære

      • Lisae – Am I spelling your name correctly. I’m going to have to get a Romanian dictionary so I can communicate with you properly. I noted several of your blogs last night and was frustrated with myself for not understanding the language. However, your photos told a story within themselves. Cheers..

  19. Pingback: CALLING ME HOME – JULIE KIBLER | Ta hendene til din kjære – se på dem og hold dem hardt Disse hendene skal du følge, leie og lede. Du skal få føle på varmen fra dem og kjenne en inderlig glede. De skal stryke deg og de skal holde rundt deg

  20. lisaelskerarvid says:


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