Day 23: Strong female characters bring pre-Civil War South to life in “The Healing”

Each day leading up to the April 13 announcement of the Minnesota Book Awards, we highlight one of the thirty-two finalists. Today we feature 2013 Novel & Short Story Finalist:The Healing by Jonathan Odell

The Healing by Jonathan Odell
Published by Nan A. Talese/Random House, Inc.
Category Sponsor: Education Minnesota

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. Troubled by his wife’s 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.

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 of the power of story to heal the body, the spirit and the soul.

Excerpt from The Healing:

Morning broke with a weak sun struggling to peek through a dirty smear of soot-colored clouds. The two rode side by side in the buggy, the woman called Polly Shine acting like she was more interested in the rumps of the mules than in Granada. Each time Polly flicked the reins, or the wheel found a deep rut throwing the buggy to one side, the little coins suspended from her scarf tinkled against one another like the crystal pendants of the mistress’ chandelier.

Jonathon Odell photo by Jim Kuether

Jonathan Odell is the author of the acclaimed novel The View from Delphi, which deals with the struggle for equality in pre-civil rights Mississippi, his home state. His short stories and essays have appeared in numerous collections. He spent his business career as a leadership coach to Fortune 500 companies and currently resides in Minneapolis.mprlogo_color


Click here to listen as Jonathan Odell discusses The Healing on MPR’s ‘The Daily Circuit’


View the book trailer.

Odell spoke at St. Catherine’s University on The Healing, April 1, 2012


“A remarkable rite-of-passage novel with an unforgettable character… The Healing transcends any clichés 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.” —The Associated Press

“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, Historical Novel Review

“Compelling, tragic, comic, tender and mystical…. 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.’” — Minneapolis Star Tribune

The Healing is on twitter and on Facebook

Award winners will be announced at the 25th Annual Minnesota Book Awards Gala on Saturday, April 13, 2013 at the Hilton Minneapolis. An author meet-and-greet and book signing reception precedes the awards ceremony, and the Epilogue after-party, sponsored by Tech Logic, includes complimentary champagne, desserts, and live music. Tickets on sale now. Click here for more information.

Have you read The Healing? What are your thoughts? We welcome your comments!

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Posted in Novel & Short Story

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