Recently, I finished reading a book (Miss Hazel and the Rosa Parks League) by an author I had not heard of before (Jonathan Odell). It was one of the best books I have read in a while and afterward, I couldn’t wait to read, The Healing.
This work delves deeply into the lives, emotions, struggles and interactions between 1860’s slaves and their white family. It is, in part, a story about a young slave girl, Granada, raised to believe she belongs in the great house, not understanding she is merely a pawn taken and used by the mistress after losing her own daughter. At the age of twelve, she is forcibly taken from the only home she’s ever known and placed with Polly Shine, a healer woman who sees the gift in Granada. Polly teaches Granada not only to ‘listen’, but also that pretty dresses will never break the ties to her roots. Intricately woven, the story follows her from an unreliable childhood through her resistance and, guided by Polly, finally, to acceptance.
Jonathan Odell gives a true representation of the people and the era of which he writes. He has one of the most authentic writing voices I’ve ever read, giving each character a pulse and a heartbeat. He’ll have you believing you can smell Aunt Sylvie’s biscuits!
I’m often asked during interviews to ‘define a great book’. A great book doesn’t just tug on emotional strings or make us think or keep us up until the long hours of the night reading. A great book is one that leaves such an impression on us, one that touches us in a way we don’t fully understand. A great book is one that etches its details into us so deeply that we can read another hundred books and still recall the names and facts of that one memorable book. To Kill A Mockingbird, Of Mice and Men, Catcher in the Rye, among others. For me, The Healing is such a book.