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Warner To Adapt Novel 'Calling Me Home,' Described As 'Driving Miss Daisy' Meets 'The Help'

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act March 12, 2013 at 7:23PM

When I first read this news, I literally laughed out loud, anticipating your reactions to the news! And maybe also to laugh to keep from crying...???
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Calling Me Home

When I first read this news, I literally laughed out loud, anticipating your reactions to the news! And maybe also to laugh to keep from crying...???

So here's the 411: Warner Bros has picked up the film adaptation rights to a novel by Julie Kibler, titled Calling Me Home, which is being described as a cross between Driving Miss Daisy and The Help.

Not my words; that's how it's being reported.

Are you still there? Still reading? Yes?

Alright, let me finish...

Roy Lee and his Vertigo Entertainment are attached to produce the adaptation of the novel whose synopsis reads:

Eighty-nine-year-old Isabelle McAllister has a favor to ask her hairdresser Dorrie Curtis. It's a big one. Isabelle wants Dorrie, a black single mom in her thirties, to drop everything to drive her from her home in Arlington, Texas, to a funeral in Cincinnati. With no clear explanation why. Tomorrow. Dorrie, fleeing problems of her own and curious whether she can unlock the secrets of Isabelle's guarded past, scarcely hesitates before agreeing, not knowing it will be a journey that changes both their lives. Over the years, Dorrie and Isabelle have developed more than just a business relationship. They are friends. But Dorrie, fretting over the new man in her life and her teenage son's irresponsible choices, still wonders why Isabelle chose her. Isabelle confesses that, as a willful teen in 1930s Kentucky, she fell deeply in love with Robert Prewitt, a would-be doctor and the black son of her family's housekeeper--in a town where blacks weren't allowed after dark. The tale of their forbidden relationship and its tragic consequences makes it clear Dorrie and Isabelle are headed for a gathering of the utmost importance and that the history of Isabelle's first and greatest love just might help Dorrie find her own way.

So what do you make of all that? I suppose I can understand the Driving Miss Daisy meets The Help comparison, but I haven't read the book, so I can't say if there's much more to this story than meets the eye, or that simplified description.

It seems like an interracial love story (between Isabelle and the black son of her family's housekeeper in 1930s Kentucky) is the base upon which the rest of the narrative is built. My guess is that the funeral which Isabelle wants Dorrie to drive her to is that of the black son (now an old man) whom she had a "forbidden relationship" with in the 1930s. Dorrie appears to be having problems in her own life, so how exactly this trip to Cincinnati, as well as who/what awaits them there, and the history of Isabelle's past interracial relationship, will "help Dorrie find her own way," is a mystery to me.

If you've read the book, feel free to chime in; although you may want to open your comment with "Spoilers" for those who don't want to know how the different story strands connect in the end.

Calling Me Home is the author's debut novel and is said to be inspired by real-life events in her own family. It was published exactly a month ago, and was reviewed well.

The book alternates between the past and the present, as you'd expect.

Warner Bros is currently in search of a writer to adapt the novel.

But surely, they must know that selling this as Driving Miss Daisy meets The Help is a sure-fire way to instantly turn off a large portion of the black audience. Then again, a project like this may not be one that will be targeted at black audiences.

So stay tuned...



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