Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Healing by Jonathan Odell

by:  Jonathan Odell
published by:  Knopf Doubleday
publish date:  February 21, 2012

Mississippi plantation mistress Amanda Satterfield loses her daughter to cholera after her husband refuses to treat her for what he considers to be a “slave disease.” Insane with grief, Amanda takes a newborn slave child as her own and names her Granada, much to the outrage of her husband and the amusement of their white neighbors. Troubled by his wife’s disturbing mental state and concerned about a mysterious plague sweeping through his slave population, Master Satterfield purchases Polly Shine, a slave reputed to be a healer. But Polly’s sharp tongue and troubling predictions cause unrest across the plantation. Complicating matters further, Polly recognizes “the gift” in Granada, the mistress’s pet, and a domestic battle of wills ensues.

Seventy-five years later, Granada, now known as Gran Gran, is still living on the plantation and must revive the buried memories of her past in order to heal a young girl abandoned to her care. Together they learn the power of story to heal the body, the spirit and the soul.

Do yourself a favor and get yourself the audiobook of The Healing today, like now, when you're done reading this.  One of the best stories I've heard in a long time.  I'm sure the book it great, but audiobook is just so fantastic.  Make sure to listen to the author's note and the midwife's interview at the end.

The first time I talked to anybody about this book I told my husband I was listening to an audiobook about plantation slaves from a woman's point of view and I was really having a hard time believing that a man wrote this book.  My husband gave me "a look".  I told him that the book talks about white men can't take ownership of anything because it was all put there by black women.  At this point in my telling him about the book I stopped and looked up Jonathan Odell and said something to the effect of "oh my god, not only is he a man, but he's a white man."  I'm still a little skeptical, but that's only because I think that spirit of Polly and Granada was written so well.

I keep seeing this book being compared to The Help and I can't comment on that because I hated The Help.  I got about 70 pages into it and that was enough of the "vernacular" for me.  The Healing reminded me more of Gone With the Wind.  Some of the comments throughout the book made me think of Mammy and Prissy.  There was one part when maid was being sassy with her "yes ma'am" but saying it just such a way that the mistress wouldn't know, but all the other slaves would recognize it.   That totally reminded me of Prissy!

This will be the book I'll be telling everyone about whenever they ask for a recommendation.  The Healing was absolutely amazing.  Let me know if you loved it as much as I did!

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