I cannot imagine a life without talking. You can ask anyone who knows me, and they’ll tell you without a doubt that I am chatty. In The Healer of Fox Hollow, we learn the story of Layla – a little girl who has endured difficulties and tragedies in her life including one that leaves her mute, but who also devotes her life to helping others. The Healer of Fox Hollow is remarkable for the palpable tension, parental confusion, and well-written lesson that Joann Rose Leonard imparts.
Layla was born breech and her mother died after childbirth. She’s raised by her father who does his best to make ends meet and raise her well, but it has never been an easy time for him. In the depths of his grief over the loss of his wife, he has a newborn baby and no maternal skills of which to speak. When Layla is 5 years old, a traumatic event occurs which leaves her without a tongue. Her recovery is long and difficult, but through it she comes to be known as a faith healer. She takes time to devote her life to helping others, but that is not the end of the difficult moments in her life.
Joann Rose Leonard has an excellent style of wording in times of tragedy and trauma. She does a superb job of capturing the emotions and upheaval of such moments to create an almost physically palpable tension in her work. Layla is strong and she manages to pull through the negative forces at work in her life, but it isn’t without difficulty. At times she is ready to give up and give in to the sadness and grief that threatens to claim her, but she doesn’t – and it is that battle that is so well-worded by the author. Leonard has captured what can be a very confusing time in life in words that allow the reader to feel what Layla must be feeling.
Another aspect of the book that I feel is very cleverly worded is the struggle that every parent can recognize. Layla’s father Ed found himself without his wife but with a newborn that needed taken care of and he rose the challenge. He was never sure that what he was doing was right, but he did his best. His struggles are familiar to me as a mother because I’m never quite sure if what I’m doing as a parent is correct. Although he had some help from Layla’s aunt Avis, he was the be-all end-all on all decisions for his daughter. He often went against the grain of what others thought would be best, but he held firm and he raised a wonderful daughter.
While Layla’s story and the crystal clear emotions of the book were powerful aspects to me, I think what has stayed with me the most was the message or lesson that I learned through the story. The Healer of Fox Hollow is no Aesop fable, but it does have a strong lesson – that recovery from life’s burdens IS possible. Layla was dealt one rough had after the next, and while she did want to succumb to the pressure from time to time, she was able to rise above the bad parts and be a truly amazing woman. I don’t think it’s possible for us to ever read too many works with that kind of lesson, and Leonard has done a remarkable job imparting it, whether that was her goal or not.
The Healer of Fox Hollow tells us the story of Layla whose life began with difficulty and tragedy who bore the weight that was dealt to her and still stood strong. She’s a powerful character for women to learn from and she had some truly inspiring triumphs in her life. Despite all that she bore, she was still devoted to helping others, even though they didn’t always deserve her kindness. I think there’s a little something that we can all learn from that story. The powerfully written emotional details, parenting challenges and lesson to be learned from Layla’s story make The Healer of Fox Hollow a very wonderful read.
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Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher to facilitate my review. My opinions are honest and my own.
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