Book - 2011
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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.
Publisher: New York : Simon & Schuster, 2011, c2010.
Edition: 1st Simon & Schuster trade pbk. ed.
ISBN: 9781416556145
Branch Call Number: FICTION Cassella 2010
Characteristics: 291 p. ; 22 cm.


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Jul 08, 2012

An enjoyable read by a local author. In part, I liked this because of the local color; however, the premise is fun, too: a couple with a teenage daughter relocate to their summer home in the boonies of Eastern Washington following a financial crisis. Claire, the wife, practices medicine in a local clinic. Plot threads abound, but not too many, and they're all resolved in the end. That said, I did read some criticism of the financial aspect of the plot, and that criticism is probably warranted.

cvchris Mar 03, 2012

Very good book, enjoyed reading.

Nov 30, 2010

by Carol Cassella

Carol Cassella is an author and a practicing anesthesiologist. Healer is her second novel. Her first novel Oxygen was a national bestseller.

Claire's husband, Addison, is a biochemist who had succeeded in creating an ovarian blood cancer test, introducing his family into wealth and status. Unbeknown to Claire, he invested all he had in a new drug to cure cancer, that failed to pass the final research studies, sending them into unexpected financial loss, forcing them to sell all they had including their mansion. Moving to a small cabin in western Washington state, Claire and her teenage daughter tried their best to adapt, while Addison traveled looking for an investor in a new attempt to save his drug. The tension is tight between the couple. Claire has tremendous resentment bottled up against her husband's omission in telling her about pivotal moments when he by himself took wrong decisions that put even their personal assets in ruin. She was forced to look for work despite the fact that she wasn't board certified and hadn't finished her residency. Only a small public health clinic servicing the poor migrant workers gave her that chance. She meets a Nicaraguan teacher and their friendship will bring them together in ways they couldn't have fathomed. Cassella reinforces our concerns about health care and the pharma industry ( including loopholes in the law that allow them to manipulate data in their favour and life suffering.) She also brings up the difficulties in a love relationship when trust and forgiveness are at stake.
I feel the characters need to be a bit more in touch with their life's predicament to make this enjoyable reading even more believable!

JCLJanineM Oct 12, 2010

"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. At the same time as Addison finds a wealthy investor who seems eager to provide new funding for Addison's project, Claire has discovered that some patients at her clinic, immigrant migrant workers, have been enrolled in clinical trials for another drug. Through these two situations, Cassella exposes some little known loopholes in clinical drug testing, as well as drawing a grim picture of the life of the migrant workers who pick the nation's crops. The author provides some aesthetic release to these clinical tensions with her lyrical portrayals of the rugged landscape.

While the medical plot proved sufficient to carry the novel, I sometimes found myself tiring of Claire's constant inner dialogue about her relationships with Addison and Jory and her constant flashbacks to Jory's infancy and childhood. The economic aspects of the family's situation produced the biggest weakness in the story as the parents seemed to have or not have money to pay for things based on whether or not it allowed the characters to do what the author wanted and not what their economic situation would dictate. I found these moments jarringly unrealistic and they left me unable to take Claire's character seriously. However, despite these flaws, "Healer" is an interesting novel which I recommend for fiction readers who enjoy medical and/or family drama.


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