Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Book Review: The Healing
Jonathan O'Dell's The Healing is a can't-put-it-down kind of book. The story flashes between old Granny Satterfield and an orphan girl she inherits, and Granny's life as a slave, first as a pet to the grief-stricken, crazed landowner's wife and then as the plantation's reluctant healer.
Old Granny tells the traumatized orphan girl the story of her life in bits and pieces, hoping to bring healing to her through words and connections. Old Granny was torn from her mother's arms as a newborn at the demand of her mistress, whose own daughter had just died. Mistress dresses the girl, whom she names Granada, in her dead daughter's outfits and keeps her by her side. She doesn't love Granada but needs her as some sort of comfort item or plaything. The mistress also insists on keeping a monkey as a pet, and she becomes a laughingstock of the community, with her slave girl dressed in frills and her pet monkey climbing on her shoulders.
The young Granada, however, is convinced that the mistress sees her as a daughter. She is bewildered and horrified when she is yanked from her comfortable life in the big house to become the new healer's apprentice. The master purchases Polly Shine to cure his slaves of a terrible disease, and Polly immediately sees a kindred spirit in Granada. She insist on having her as a helper, and Granada's life becomes a nightmare. She does learn from Polly, in spite of herself, but her obstinate nature causes more than one disaster.
As Granny narrates her stories to the orphan girl, she finds healing in herself and release from the burden of the poor choices she made during her days as Polly Shine's apprentice.
If you liked such novels as The Help and The Kitchen House, you'll love The Healing! Highly recommended.