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Healer: A Novel Hardcover – September 7, 2010

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (September 7, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416556125
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416556121
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #530,675 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Product Description
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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Customer Reviews

Her characters are well developed.
P. Golden
I'm thrilled to have read another great book by Carol Cassella.
Gentle Reader
This very well-written book keeps you turning the pages.
Rain City Reader 2

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By K. Harris HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on September 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover
After her successful debut with "Oxygen," I was interested and eager to check out Carol Wiley Cassella's second foray into medical fiction "Healer." "Healer" is only tangentially connected with medicine, however, as its larger focus is about family, marriage, and discovering what is really important about a life lived. Cassella is a terrific story teller and keeps things moving along at a brisk pace--I literally flew through the book--but sometimes I felt like the novel was trying to cover too many topics. As a result, this good book misses the mark somewhat. Plots involving medical research protocol, a marriage filled with deception, a struggle for individuality, a fiscal crisis, a critique of the health care system, a look at migrant workers, and an out-of-left-field mystery all battle for limited space in the book's 300 pages.

At the heart, "Healer" does impress you with its strong central character and that's almost enough to hold everything together. Claire Boehning, after a devastating financial blow, is forced to relocate her family to a small Washington town. Desperate to revive the medical career which she hasn't practiced in fourteen years, Claire takes a position at a local clinic. In the simplest terms, "Healer" is focused (and should have stayed focused) on Claire's adaptation to her new environment. Her difficult daughter, the conflicts with her husband, and her emergence as a confident doctor are really the meat of the story. You want to see Claire succeed and as she does, she starts to realize what was empty about her previous world of privilege. It's good stuff.

I never did feel that the rest of the story was fleshed out effectively, however. Although the family is destitute, they are continually spending.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Gentle Reader on September 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I'm thrilled to have read another great book by Carol Cassella. HEALER tells so many stories... of a marriage slammed by the great recession, of intrigue in the biotech community, of parents of a hard-to-reach teenage girl, of Nicaraguan immigrants and their tight-night families, of a struggling free clinic in eastern Washington. It's a real page-turner, full of insight and intrigue. If you're looking for a well-written, timely novel that will keep you engrossed from page one, this is for you.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Denise Crawford TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 26, 2011
Format: Paperback
This second novel by medical doctor Carol Cassella explores the answer to the question -- what is left when you've lost all your material possessions, your home, your reputation, and your previous world of friends and social interaction? The answer lies, for these characters, in the rustic, rural former vacation home they never renovated, in a small town in Hallum, Washington. What remains is simple: hard work and love.

Claire is a stay-at-home mom to teen-aged Jory (the only child she can have, born prematurely) when her husband Addison, a wildly successful biochemist who had made them rich by discovering a test to diagnose ovarian cancer early, gambles their entire financial portfolio on a new anti-cancer drug he's trying to bring to market. Almost ready for FDA approval, lab data from clinical trials is suspicious, and the fledgling research venture folds along with Addison's integrity. Gone is all the money they had received from Addison's former triumph, and they have to sell their house and possessions and relocate to Hallum while Addison goes begging at medical conventions for investors in the project he can't give up.

Meanwhile, Claire -- who was almost done with residency when Jory arrived early -- needs a job to feed herself and her daughter. Because she's not board certified, she takes the only job she's offered -- in a free clinic for migrant workers run by an aging physician, Dr. Dan Zalaya. The position pays little, and Claire is nervous and anxious about actually working as a doctor again and has also a little difficulty with translating the patients' complaints from Spanish since she doesn't speak the language. She is forced to be a single parent to Jory and works long hours in the barely funded clinic.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By wordsmith on December 10, 2012
Format: Paperback
I was really hoping for something better than was presented, especially after reading other reviews. I felt the author was way too focused on describing in intimate detail all the material trappings of the former opulent life. So much so I wondered how closely the author's life might have mimicked her character, it totally turned me off. (The story) Give me a break, having to downsize from a mansion to an older house in the country with lots of acreage? A huge fall from grace? It only served to remind me of the kind of folks that shoved our country headlong into our current economic mess.

I'm not sure how I finished it. I was way too bored reading about all that was lost rather than what was learned, gained etc. The writing was...average. How did this author get a book deal?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Librarian VINE VOICE on October 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover
"Healer", Carol Cassella's sophomore novel, is a solid family drama with an original storyline that is very in tune with today. Claire and Addison Boehning were one of Seattle's golden couples who went from struggling to rich almost overnight when Addison, a biochemist, discovered a way to test for ovarian cancer in its very early stages. They have one daughter, Jory, who is fourteen. When the book opens, Addison has invested and lost the family's home and savings in a new project that developed problems in initial testing. The family has been forced to sell their home in Seattle and move into their unrenovated vacation home located in the mountains of eastern Washington. Claire is hunting for a job as a family physician, a profession she has never actually practiced as she was 3 months shy of completing her residency when Jory arrived prematurely. Unable to have any other children, Claire chose to stay at home with her one child rather than return to complete her residency and board certification. Unfortunately, that choice has left her with few options for locating a position from which to launch her medical career. She eventually takes the only position offered her as a doctor in nonprofit clinic for migrant laborers where the hours are long and the pay extremely low. Meanwhile, Addison is trying to drum up new investors so he can continue work on his project that already has cost him almost everything he owns.

As a practicing anesthesiologist, Cassella uses her professional knowledge and experience with the medical community to craft a very original plot that explores the way medical research is done in the United States.
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More About the Author

Carol Cassella is a practicing physician and novelist. She was a closet writer for years before blending medicine and fiction in her first novel, OXYGEN, (Simon & Schuster, 2008), the story of an anesthesiologist tangled in the aftermath of an operating room catastrophe. Her second novel, HEALER, follows a doctor whose life is turned upside down when her husband's hot new cancer drug explodes amidst ethical controversy. GEMINI, published in 2014, blends mystery with a love story when a hit and run victim is life-flighted to a Seattle hospital's ICU. All three books were Indie Best Picks and together they have been translated into more than a dozen languages.

Carol grew up in Dallas, Texas and graduated from Duke University with a degree in English Literature. After working in publishing for several years, she decided to pursue her fascination with all the weird and wonderful ways humans behave and misbehave by studying medicine. She graduated from Baylor College of Medicine and is board certified in both internal medicine and anesthesiology. Prior to writing fiction, Carol wrote about global public health issues in the developing world for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. She has been a contributor to the Wall Street Journal as an Expert Panelist in Healthcare, and edits a literary section in Anesthesiology, the journal of the American Society of Anesthesiology. She is a founding member of Seattle7Writers, a non-profit supporting literacy and reading in the Pacific Northwest, and also serves on medical organizations working in Nicaragua and Bhutan.

Carol lives on Bainbridge Island, WA with her husband Steve and their two sets of twins. She enjoys hiking and cross country skiing in the North Cascades, and is currently working on her fourth novel.

Please visit Carol at her website: www.carolcassella.com

Become a fan of Carol at: www.facebook.com/CarolCassellaAuthor

Follow her on Twitter at:www.twitter.com/carolcassella

Discover more Pacific Northwest writers at: www.Seattle7writers.org

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