In 2013, when the United States has inaugurated a president born of a white mother and black father, it is hard to imagine a time when interracial marriage was illegal and segregation was the norm. Thanks to the courageous acts of those who participated in the Civil Rights Movement 50 years ago, segregation and sundown laws have not been a part of my lifetime. But they certainly existed when my parents were growing up and were a way of life for my grandparents and the generations that preceded them.
Julie Kibler began writing her debut novel, Calling Me Home, after she learned that her grandmother, as a young woman, had fallen in love with a young black man. The era and social mores in her grandmother’s hometown made the relationship impossible. This real-life forbidden love served as the basis for the fictional romance between Isabelle and Robert in Shalerville, Kentucky.
The narrative alternates between Isabelle as a teenager in 1939 and Isabelle as a senior citizen in the present day. The author does a nice job of describing the differences between the two eras and moving the plot forward–just as the elderly Isabelle and her trusted friend, Dorrie, drive toward the epicenter of long-lost love and untold anguish.
Calling Me Home is the She Reads Book Club selection for February. Julie Kibler has contributed some posts about her writing rituals and her grandmother’s story there. But you should also read the many reviews from other She Reads bloggers to understand why this story is such a great one for discussion. Visit this She Reads page to learn more about Calling Me Home. To learn more about Julie Kibler, visit her author website at juliekibler.com or follow her on Twitter @juliekibler.