CALLING ME HOME
This is a deeply affecting coming-of-age story with radiant characters who will remain with the reader long after the last page is turned. However, in recounting a Southern belle’s doomed love for Robert, a black man in Jim Crow-era Kentucky, the author (like so many in women’s fiction today) uses the white female protagonist as the lens through which the horrors of racism are filtered — consequently blurring and softening their nevertheless devastating impact. In the end, one suspects the real story is Robert’s — and it’s one too searingly painful to be told.
After a decade as 90-year-old Isabelle McAllister’s hairdresser, Dorrie Curtis has struck up an unlikely friendship with the prickly old woman. So she barely gives it a second thought when Miss Isabelle asks her to drive her to a family funeral, a thousand miles away in Cincinnati. As the miles pass, the story of Miss Isabelle’s doomed love for the son of her family’s black housekeeper unspools to its tragic end. (ST. MARTIN’S, Feb., 336 pp., $24.99)