From national bestselling author Carol Cassella comes the story of one doctor’s struggle to hold her family together through a storm of broken trust and questioned ethics.
Claire is at the start of her medical career when she falls in love with Addison Boehning, a biochemist with blazing genius and big dreams. A complicated pregnancy deflects Claire’s professional path, and she is forced to drop out of her residency. Soon thereafter Addison invents a simple blood test for ovarian cancer, and his biotech start-up lands a fortune. Overnight the Boehnings are catapulted into a financial and social tier they had never anticipated or sought: they move into a gracious Seattle home and buy an old ranch in the high desert mountains of eastern Washington, and Claire drifts away from medicine to become a full-time wife and mother. Then Addison gambles everything on a cutting-edge cancer drug, and when the studies go awry, their comfortable life is swept away. Claire and her daughter, Jory, move to a dilapidated ranch house in rural Hallum, where Claire has to find a job until Addison can salvage his discredited lab. Her only offer for employment comes from a struggling public health clinic, but Claire gets more than a second chance at medicine when she meets Miguela, a bright Nicaraguan immigrant and orphan of the contra war who has come to the United States on a secret quest to find the family she has lost. As their friendship develops, a new mystery unfolds that threatens to destroy Claire’s family and forces her to question what it truly means to heal.
Healer exposes the vulnerabilities of the American family, provoking questions of choice versus fate, desire versus need, and the duplicitous power of money.
Amazon Exclusive: Garth Stein Reviews Healer
Garth Stein is the author of The Art of Racing in the Rain, Raven Stole the Moon, How Evan Broke His Head and Other Secrets, and Enzo. Die Kunst, ein Mensch zu Sein.
It's tough to follow a spectacular debut like Oxygen, Carol Cassella’s striking first novel, with an even stronger second novel, but she’s done it with Healer.
Claire, Jory and Addison Boehning find themselves strapped to a runaway train of personal financial collapse, with only each other to cling to, and only each other to blame. Their precipitous fall from the rarified air of security and prosperity is the consequence of Addison's brilliant but risky shot at developing a cutting-edge cancer drug. With their old life in shreds, Claire, who abandoned a medical career fourteen years earlier, is forced to redefine her entire life: yesterday, she was the wealthy wife of Seattle's hottest biotech wizard; today, she is the heart and soul--and breadwinner--for her foundering family.
With Cassella's dynamic novel, something is always lingering under the surface; her narrative develops from a story of marital love and strife into a suspenseful, gripping story that is both provocative and gratifying. She leads the reader into unfamiliar and intriguing worlds peopled with vivid, complex characters. There are no blatant good guys and bad guys in Healer, no simple blacks and whites. Cassella's characters come in myriad shades of gray that make up the complex psyche of all human beings. And when money competes with good intentions, Cassella doesn't shy away from negotiating the murky ethical areas where profit and altruism collide, weaving questions of immigration, health care, and the power of big pharma into a page turning drama. I highly recommend this compelling new book by this remarkable author.
From Publishers Weekly
Claire Boehning faces a bleak future when her privileged life ends abruptly in Cassella's second novel (after Oxygen). Addison, her biochemist husband, created a lucrative drug that secured the family's fortunes, but when tests on a new drug go awry and Addison's backing disappears, he loses everything. After the couple is forced to move from Seattle with daughter Jory, 14, to live in a rural, ramshackle house originally bought as a fixer-upper project when money was not an issue, Addison travels in search of new investors. Claire, meanwhile, searches for a position as a doctor, a profession she left after Jory's birth. But with her lack of experience and board certification, she finds few opportunities until she lands a job at a nonprofit clinic that serves poor, uninsured migrant workers. There Claire meets Miguela Ruiz, a Nicaraguan native with a mysterious background, and as the Boehnings struggle to reclaim some piece of their past life, Ruiz affects them in unexpected ways. Cassella (a real-life doctor) takes a hard look at a faulty health-care system to illustrate the power of money and class in this timely and multifaceted novel.
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