Monday, October 4, 2010

126 - Healer; Carol Cassella

 The Boehnings were a family who at one time had it all.  A lakefront McMansion in Washington State, a vacation getaway in the mountains, and all the other material things that go hand in hand with success. Addison was a brilliant Bio Chemist, and his company made it big when he discovered a simple blood test to detect ovarian cancer. As the novel opens, Claire is moving into the Hallum, Washington vacation home which is in desperate need of updating, along with the couple's fourteen year old daughter Jory. Her husband, Addison, without Claire's knowledge, gambled their life savings and even their home on an experimental cancer drug, whose trial testings go badly.

How could Claire have been so blind?  A bright woman in her own right, Claire was in her residency in medical school when a difficult pregnancy forced her to end her residency early. She spent the last fourteen years as a stay-at-home mom.  Now she finds herself searching for work in the medical field. The only position she can find, without being board-certified, is a job at an understaffed clinic that serves primarily the indigent and the migrant worker population.  Rusty in both skills, and Spanish, Claire works long hours to keep her family afloat while Addison searches for other backers in business.

Claire befriends a woman from Nicaragua who develops a bond with daughter Jory. The woman is not completely honest with Claire, and Claire soon learns a secret about what happened to the woman's daughter.  The revelation brings up medical ethics issues, and this subplot becomes significant within the story.

I liked this story, but not quite as much as her first novel,  Oxygen, which I loved.  I felt angry at Addison for being secretive about family finances. While he was off traveling and trying to rebuild his career, Claire was left to deal with the aftermath. She had all the pressure and demands placed on her as a result of his bad decisions. Claire kept her cool and did what she needed to do to keep things as harmonious as possible given the circumstances. I doubt I would have acted in a similar manner. The title is significant, and,  in my opinion, Claire was the true Healer in this story: herself, her family and others in need, in the process.

The author practices anesthesiology in Seattle, and her writing style reflects her knowledge in the field of medicine. The novel gives you much to think about regarding ethical issues, the ups and downs of a marriage, and child rearing.  If you enjoy stories with a strong and sympathetic female protagonist, then this might be just the novel for you. RECOMMENDED 

4/5 Stars - Review Copy

20 comments:

  1. I really liked this one, too, but I would agree that I liked Oxygen better.

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  2. Strong women and family stories. I like that.

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  3. Addison does sound like a frustrating character, but the book still sounds good. I love the cover!

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  4. I haven't heard of this one before -- the overview was fantastic. Just enough to get me really into it, and wonder how it all turns out -- I'm going to have to check this one out!

    As always, my shelves become more and more weighed down...! :)

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  5. I loved Oxygen too!
    I like the sound of the issues that are brought up in this book... I definitely want to read it!!

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  6. This sounds quite interesting! I love books that explore ethical issues.

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  7. I just got this one and am really excited about reading it. It sounds like it's really involving, and I can imagine feeling the same way about the husband. Great review! I will have to let you know what I think of it!

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  8. I have not read Oxygen but I have a copy of this one. It sounded appealing...some what involved and intriguing. I have to be in the mood for a book that deals with the medical world because I am very opinionated about doctors..especially with my child.
    Solid review.

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  9. I haven't heard of this one before...but Oxygen's been on my "to read" list for awhile now!

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  10. Sounds interesting and a bit depressing, given the current economy. Thanks for the review!

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  11. Will add to my tbr list, thanks! for sharing.

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  12. I do want to read this even though I loved Oxygen. My expectations won't be so high since I've been forewarned :)

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  13. I got caught up in the story just reading your summary. And that kind of betrayal in a marriage would be hard to overcome I think!

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  14. This sounds like an interesting book. I haven't read anything by the author.

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  15. I'm so glad you enjoyed this book - we are reading this for the Manic Mommies Book Club early next year.

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  16. Thanks for the review! I just got Oxygen, and I think I'll start with that one.

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  17. I'm also a big fan of strong women characters so I think I will like this book. I hope I like it as much as I like Oxygen though :)

    Thank you for a great review.

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  18. This one sounds good and Addison's actions make me upset! I think I would like this one.

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  19. Wow-what an intriguing story line. I think I will try to read Oxygen first. The cover is beautiful and I like her one word titles.

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  20. Hey, thanks so much for reading Healer and for your thoughtful and well written review! I love how each book seems to speak to different readers in different ways--again convincing me that fiction is a participatory art form. To be complete a novel requires both the author and the reader. I'm always happy to talk to book clubs if anyone's interested. Keep promoting books!!
    Best,
    Carol Cassella

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