Calling Me Home, Julie Kibler
This book is really two stories. In the present, Isabelle (a very old white woman) asks Dorrie (her younger black hairdresser) to drive her on a road trip. Along the way, Isabelle tells the second story, of her much younger self and her forbidden love for a black man. Eventually, the destination of the road trip is revealed, and the two stories come together in an unexpected way.
I found this book exceptional for the way it was able to address the big issues of race, love, and family – both in the past and the present – in an unflinching way. The characters are very well drawn and I got caught up in their stories, to the point that I cried at the ending (I almost NEVER cry when I’m reading.) I knew even before I finished it that I was reading an exceptional book, and the ending did not disappoint.
You might like: The Help, by Kathryn Stockett. The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd.