I approached this novel warily because it had been compared to a wildly popular piece of Southern fiction of which I was not fond. I'm happy to report that I found the comparison entirely inapt. Odell's work offers greater subtlety of message and a richer, more authentic representation of people, period, and place. The healing for which the book is named refers not only to healing of the body, but also to the power of connecting through stories to heal the parts of us that can't be touched in any other way. Granada shares her life story with silent little Violet, and the telling works its magic on the psyches of both speaker and listener. Eventually Violet must come out of her silence in her eagerness to tell the parts of the story unknown to Granada. Granada's story centers on her relationship with Polly Shine, a black folk healer and midwife from whom Granada learned the healing and intuitive arts on a Mississippi plantation in the years just before the Civil War. Polly plucked Granada from her elevated position as a house slave, recognizing that Granada had healing gifts as yet undeveloped. Polly Shine is the sparkle in this story. Spunky and outspoken, she embodies the hope of Freedom for her people, and sows that seed of possibility in their minds until it becomes a reality. Feared by some as a conjure woman, revered by others as a miracle worker, Polly lives by her own lights and mocks her white owners.This is a story full of heart and a little humor, carefully researched by the author, himself a white child of the South. I would pick up the book thinking I was only going to read a chapter, and before I knew it I'd read 40 or 50 pages. It's a captivating picture of plantation life and healing lore as seen through the eyes of the slaves. My only reason for not giving this lovely book five stars is that I felt abandoned near the close of the book. It jumps forward in time, which was disappointing after I'd developed a strong attachment to Polly Shine and Granada. It felt like a rush to the finish after a careful buildup. I do love the way it ends, though, with the message of passing forward to the young ones the responsibility for remembering and respecting what their forebears endured and accomplished.