From Publishers Weekly
With its clarity and economy, Miller's debut about God-given gifts reads like a first-person parable, as 80-year-old Charlotte Tyler Preston looks back on her life. Known as Muchie while growing up in the 1910s, she lived on a rural Mississippi farm that was home to her parents, her nine siblings and her beloved grandmother, Tyler Mama ("I truly believed my grandmother had hung the moon"), from whom she inherited the gift of healing. Though slowed down occasionally by wooden, expository dialogue, the plot moves along apace, following Muchie as she grows up; falls in love; moves to Mobile, Ala.; marries and raises a family. Even as she deftly maneuvers the challenges faced by most African-American women in that era-poverty, racism, makeshift schools and even color discrimination within her own community-she has a tougher time making this so-called healing gift (which she never wanted) work at her bidding. She can turn a breech baby and magically reconnect the severed fingers of a sawmill employee, but she's helpless to save those she loves the most. Beginning with the untimely loss of Tyler Mama, whose injuries from a fall off a horse don't respond to Muchie's touch, to the death of her own beloved husband, Muchie feels betrayed by a God who appears to withhold this gift whenever she needs it most. She turns her back on her powers, but a valuable lesson from an unlikely source sets her right again in this uplifting tale about faith and acceptance.
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“The Laying on of Hands is a nostalgic literary journey that wraps around a reader's heart. It warms the soul, feeds the spirit and reaffirms the power of love."
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-- Norma L. Jarrett, author of Sunday Brunch
“The Laying on of Hands is a rich and absorbing story as warm and lush as the South where it is set. In this remarkable book, Brenda Rhodes Miller has given us engaging characters who touch deeply and transform us, much as the miracles they perform, showing us in the process the amazing healing power of love.”
--Christopher Benson, author of Special Interest and co-author of Death of Innocence: The Story of the Hate Crime That Changed America
"Brenda Rhodes Miller tells an amazing tale as we journey through the struggles of four generations coping with love's triumphs and tragedies. As I swiftly turned the pages I yearned for the story to never end."
-- Parry 'EbonySatin' Brown author of Sittin' in the Front Pew
"Masterfully conceived, The Laying on Hands evokes a time when faith and family sustained us as a people emerging from slavery. Miss Muchie, Tyler Mama, Teddy, Mr. Winston and all the characters in the novel by Brenda Rhodes Miller live with us and are the kind of people we know and love, or wish we had known."
-- Dr. Dorothy I. Height, author of Open Wide the Freedom Gates: A Memoir and Chair/President Emerita, The National Council of Negro Women, Inc.
"In her beautifully crafted novel, Brenda Rhodes Miller weaves a mysterious yet innocent tale that evokes faith at the same time that it makes readers shudder with fear of the unknown."
-- Nicole Bailey-Williams, Ed.M., author of Floating and A Little Piece of Sky
"Family, spirit, faith, loss, acceptance of an awesome yet imperfect gift--these are merely notes and chords in the wonderful song Brenda Rhodes Miller has composed. "Miss Muchie" Winston croons a lifetime of melodies, sweet and bittersweet. Resonant in all of us."
-- Christopher Chambers, author of Sympathy for the Devil and A Prayer for Deliverance