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Atlanta Journal Constitution - Sunday March 11, 2012
"In Jonathan Odell's storytelling tour de force, "The Healing," a
former slave offers hope to a troubled child by weaving a remarkable
tapestry of plantation life on the eve of the Civil War... a master
class about a group of women who seem to have disappeared from the
history books: slave doctors, once the most powerful slaves on the
plantation. In addition to their knowledge of herbs, midwifery and
home remedies, they offered a vital curative the white doctors of
the day left out. They treated their patients like human beings.
Polly Shine carries something even more potent in her medicine
chest, a subtle message that the master's most loyal slave is the
first to notice. "She's doing more than tending to their bodies," he
warns. "She's meddling with their minds. If the master's not
careful, this tale that's being brewed will let loose a plague among
his slaves a lot more dangerous than the cholera or the blacktongue
or the yellow fever.""
The Herald (Madison, MS) – March 6, 2012
"...The Healing is a treasure; a gift of humble proportions that
spreads its warmth through the reader's soul long after it's
Associated Press - February 24, 2012
Slavery-era novel an empowering narrative
"Set in the darkest heart of plantation-era slavery, “The Healing”
is a remarkable rite-of-passage novel with an unforgettable
character, a forceful medicine woman named Polly Shine. She arrives
in the life of Granada, a black slave girl who was robbed of her
mother as a baby and is struggling to find her racial place and
identity on a sprawling Mississippi Delta plantation in the decade
leading up to the Civil War. Her personal journey takes fearsome
turns in the hands of Polly Shine. ...[the book] transcends any
cliches of the genre with its captivating, at times almost lyrical,
prose; its firm grasp of history; vivid scenes; and vital, fully
realized people, particularly the slaves with their many shades of
color and modes of survival..."
-- Kendal Weaver
(This was syndicated and published in many major newspapers across
New York Post - February 18, 2012
"With his latest work, Odell has written one of those beautiful
Southern tales with unforgettable characters. Required reading."
Star Tribune (Minneapolis) - February 10, 2012
“This is a beautiful book, well crafted and textured. It combines
the historical significance of Kathryn Stockett's "The Help" with
the wisdom of Toni Morrison's "Beloved." There are few characters in
literature as compelling and compassionate as Polly Shine, who
teaches us to ‘choose for the people ... and God will be on your
side. Choose for yourself and you'll be walking alone.’”
-- Christine Brunkhorst
Historical Novel Review – February 1, 2012
“…The Healing is Jonathan Odell’s beautifully written historical
novel of denial and acceptance set in the antebellum Deep South.
Every character struggles with the agonizing lies and realities on
both sides of the master-slave relationship. Those emotions still
reverberated during Odell’s boyhood days in Mississippi amid
segregation, lynchings, and the KKK.
In writing The Healing, Odell sought to understand slavery’s
terrible consequences and also the fractured society in which he was
raised. Just as the power of story helped patients that Polly Shine
healed and brought Granada to accept herself, Odell’s story will
touch his readers, and I sensed that he found healing in his own
words. Odell’s lush descriptions set me in the Mississippi Delta so
clearly that I could feel the humidity and hear the mosquitoes
whine. His characters, particularly the richly-drawn Polly Shine,
will haunt you long after you finish The Healing.”
-- Jo Ann Butler
Kirkus Reviews – January 15, 2012
"Odell (The View from Delphi, 2004) stirs lyricism and sentiment
into a well-researched epic of slavery and emancipation that will
endear itself to the spirituality inclined."
Library Journal Starred Review - October 1, 2011
"The white, male, Mississippi-born author (The View from Delphi) of
this engrossing novel about an African American female healer
growing up as a slave on a Mississippi plantation makes up in
soulfulness for whatever he may lack in authenticity. Gran Gran, the
healer, an old woman by 1933, isn’t called on much anymore for
midwifery or folk remedies when a newly motherless girl is abandoned
at her door. By vividly relaying stories about people she loved as a
child—especially Polly Shine, the courageous slave woman
healer/midwife who taught her to use her own gift—Gran Gran brings
traumatized, grieving Violet back to the land of the living.
Recalling Polly Shine’s blend of African traditions and Old
Testament beliefs heals her own ailing soul as well. VERDICT Bound
to be compared to Kathryn Stockett’s best-selling The Help, this
historical novel relegates its few white characters to distinctly
minor status and probes complex issues of freedom and slavery, such
as the dangers of an owner’s favor, making it more like Dolen
Perkins-Valdez’s acclaimed Wench."
-- Laurie A. Cavanaugh, Wareham Free Lib., MA