The Healer – Donna Freitas – HarperTeen – Published 9 October 2018
Marlena Oliveira has—mysteriously, miraculously—been given the power to heal all kinds of ailments. People around the world believe she is a saint. But her power comes at a price: she can’t go to school, she can’t have friends her own age, and she certainly can’t date.
Then she meets Finn, a boy who makes her want to fall in love. For the first time, she begins to doubt whether her gift is worth all that she must give up to keep it.
The Healer is a compelling and unique book. It is a very different coming of age story, yet despite Marlena’s special abilities that set her apart in the world, her story of falling in love for the first time, discovering who she is and is meant to be and learning to stand up for herself is universal.
Marlena is a Healer. Some say she is touched by God, others say she is a saint. For years, her mother has decided how she will live and what she will do. But as Marlena begins to stretch her wings, she must decide if being a healer defines her or if she can heal on her own terms.
At first, I was expecting a book similar to The Secret of a Heart Note by Stacey Lee, but The Healer is not about plants or potions and is far more mystical and religious. Marlena isn’t sure where her powers come from, some days she’s not even sure she really has powers. But her mother is a firm believer that Marlena has been touched by God and a church and religious group has risen up around Marlena. The constant attention is something that Marlena hates the most. She longs for connection with people not awe and fear from afar. She wants to be able to walk down the street of her hometown without seeing her face on souvenirs in the windows of shops. She wants to live a normal life.
Pushing the boundaries of her constrained life means conflict with her controlling mother. It means discovering a whole range of options never before open to her. It means learning who she wants to be and who she doesn’t. But there is also a cost.
The Healer is both a coming of age story and a love story. When Marlena meets Finn it is love at first sight for her and there is an undeniable attraction between them. But their romance, despite being quick and intense, has a lot to overcome. I am more than happy to get behind a quick romantic story line when the connection between the couple is believable and I was 100% behind Marlena and Finn. The moments they share, Marlena’s newness and awkwardness with it all was totally adorable.
Donna Freitas’ writing style is beautiful in The Healer and she crafts an entrancing story that I was immediately drawn to. The mystery behind Marlena’s healing talent is never fully explained in The Healer, leaving it up to the reader to decide how much they believe in her gift and its possible options. I was surprised, delighted and charmed by The Healer, by Marlena and by this story of growing up, falling in love, learning, loving, losing and living.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Young adult fiction.
Themes: Healing, religion, faith, miracles, romance, love, death, illness, family, art, mother-daughter relationships, coming of age, sex and dating.
Reading age guide: Ages 14 and up.
Advisory: Sexual references, sex scenes – implied and with some details. Occasional coarse language, fu** (1), sh** (2), sl** (5), as***** (2), pi**(1).
Published: 9 October 2018 by HarperTeen.
Format: Hardcover, ebook. 400 pages.