Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Healer of Fox Hollow, Joann Rose Leonard (5 stars) Review and Giveaway

About The Healer of Fox Hollow

Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Vantage Point (July 1, 2012)

According to folklore in the Smoky Mountains, “When you enter the world with your feet pawing the air before your eyes can see where to put them, it’s a strong sign you’ll lose your way from time to time.”

Right from the start, Layla Tompkin’s way forward is full of detours after her mother dies in breech birth, leaving only her and her devoted, sorrowful father, Ed. Then, at the age of five, Layla is rendered mute after a devastating injury.

“God is leading Layla to speak in new tongues, proclaims Pastor Simpson at the local serpent handling church. Soon after, Layla is found to possess the gift of healing and her reputation spreads. Even Doc Fredericks, the area’s skeptical physician, is forced to re-examine scientific tenets when Layla’s healing touch is the only treatment that brings relief to his son Brian, whose legs were blown off by a landmine in Vietnam.
Doubt and the miraculous, loss and survival, hurt and forgiveness collide when a secret challenges what everyone holds true, leaving Layla, her family and the community profoundly changed in a story about what it means to be truly healed.


Some characters enter your heart from page one and maintain a place there through each page of the story and beyond. Layla is one of those characters. Not since Fannie Flagg's Daisy Fay, from Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man, have I so cherished a character.

Layla faces unspeakable tragedy very early in her life, from the death of her mother moments after her birth to losing her tongue in a horrific scene at the age of five. The town whispers behind her back, talk of a serpent taking her tongue and God's hand in it. When Layla's touch saves a neighbor's dog, people start coming to her for faith healing.

From school to the early teenage years, Layla's confidence in healing grows. The local doctor, originally skeptical, even turns to her when his son comes back from Vietnam wounded. But the wounded don't just need healing from medical pain.

Layla decides to stay in town, turning down higher education, because people need her. A stranger knocks on her door and changes her life by stirring up feelings she never thought she'd experience. But his own pain sends him fleeing. Not long after, another tragedy befalls Layla. One that makes her question everything she's ever believed in.

The story is seamless. Layla gently takes your hand in the beginning and leads you on a journey, never letting go. When she rejoices, you will. Her pain becomes your own. At the end, I had tears streaming down my face--for Layla, for all the lives she touched, and for all my own struggles. It's hard to read such an emotional book and not see the parallels in your own life, or in the life of someone you love.

I also must mention how much I loved other characters. Layla's father is tender and sweet, but strong when he needs to be. Thanks to Aunt Avis and her daughter, Abbey, Layla has women to turn to. Finally, Doc Fredericks, along with his wife and son, is another charming character. One who is willing to look past his education to acknowledge the power of Layla's unconventional healing.

Rich in characters and overflowing with emotion, The Healer of Fox Hollow is a touching story that will leave you asking your own questions and hugging all your loved ones. If your ideal dinner date with authors would include Billie Letts and Fannie Flagg, then pick up a copy. I know Joann Rose Leonard would now be sitting at my imagined author table.

Rating: 5 stars

About Joann Rose Leonard

Wisconsin born JOANN ROSE LEONARD was Texas-raised and has chigger bite scars to prove it, theatre-trained and frostbitten at Northwestern University, and worked as an actress in New York. She studied mime in Paris with Marcel Marceau while dubbing films into English to earn her daily baguette; raised 9 kids (2 human, 7 goats) in State College PA, where she was founder and director of MetaStages, the youth theatre program at Penn State University, and, with her husband, Bob, a retired professor and theatre director, has relocated to CA to be nearer their sons, Jonathan (DJ Child, an award-winning music producer and founder of the multi-media company, Project Groundation) and Joshua (actor/filmmaker including The Lie, Higher Ground and The Blair Witch Project.) Joann is author of The Soup Has ManyEyes: From Shtetl to Chicago; One Family’s Journey Through History, “From Page to Stage,” a chapter in Holt Rinehart Winston’s Elements of Literature and two collections of multicultural plays, “All the World’s a Stage Volumes I & II” (Baker’s Plays). In her research for The Healer of Fox Hollow, Joann discovered that the truth the novel is based upon is infinitely stranger than the fiction she wrote.

For more info on Joann and her work, please visit her website.

Thanks to TLC Tours for my review copy.

Note: I received a complimentary copy for review purposes. A positive review was not requested or guaranteed; the opinions expressed are my own.

Please visit other stops on the The Healer of Fox Hollow Blog Tour page.


I'm thrilled to be giving away a paperback copy of The Healer of Fox Hollow to one lucky reader (US and Canada only). I believe this book will earn a treasured spot on your bookshelf.

To enter to win, please leave your name and email address in the comments below. The contest will close at 5:00pm EST on Friday, August 3.

I will put each name in a hat and have my trusty assistant (my lovely 12-year-old daughter) pick one. The winner will be announced here and on Twitter Friday (8/3/12), so please leave your Twitter name in the comments below as well.


More praise for The Healer of Fox Hollow

“…tough, tender, and terrifyingly beautiful. It touches spirituality in ways that will please the Believer and the Doubter alike and for all its simplicity delves into the deep mysteries of life with complexity and nuance. It is a wonderful book.” — John Pielmeier, award-winning screenwriter of Agnes of God, Choices of the Heart, Sins of the Father, The Pillars of the Earth

“…a serpentine narrative that grips and bites. It’s moving and funny…[an] amazing novel.” — Frank Galati, Tony Award-winning director/screenwriter of The Grapes of Wrath, Ragtime, The Accidental Tourist

“Tender and lyrical, The Healer of Fox HollowNaseem Rakha, International bestselling author of The Crying Tree


Beth said...

Sounds like an interesting book.

Tia Bach said...

Beth, You would enjoy it. And you are my first entry for the giveaway. Yeah!

Nana said...

Sounds like the perfect book for me. Your review was excellent. If I don't win it, I will buy it right away. Thank you for sharing this with us.

Tia Bach said...

Nana, I know you'll love it.

Amy, Thanks for entering (even though your comment post got lost in the Blogger universe - thanks for emailing to make sure I got it).

Both of you lovely ladies are entered into the giveaway.

Tia Bach said...

Thanks to all who entered... Beth, you are the winner and a paperback will be out to you shortly. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Wow, this one sounds amazing! I can't wait to read it myself.

Thanks for the great review - I'm featuring it on TLC's Facebook page today.

Tia Bach said...

Thanks, Heather. A great book like this one deserves a great review.