Monday, February 6, 2012

The Healing Spell

The most compelling middle grade characters have indomitable wills, in other words, they will stop at nothing to get what they want. Think: Bud in Bud Not Buddy and Jody in The Yearling and how they faced impossible circumstances with grit.

Livie, the eleven year-old protagonist of The Healing Spell, by author Kimberley Griffiths Little has to heal her mother. Check out the detailed review on "There's A Book."

Livie, who lives with her family in the mysterious alligator-denizened and cypress-shaded Bayou, has a big problem. Her mother fell out of a canoe-like pirogue, into the swamp, struck her head, and is in a coma. Livie was the only one with her when she fell. Though not responsible for the accident, Livie believes she is. After all, she had been angry at her mother lately, certain she is the lesser-loved middle child of three girls.

When the book begins, it is eleven days after Momma's accident. Daddy is carrying his unconscious wife into their house on the bayou. He has snatched her from the hospital, against medical advice, believing love is what his wife needs.

Terrified, Livie says, "My chest got so tight if felt like a gator squeezing my heart between his jaws. . . . Momma looked like she was dead, but really wasn't." Livie broods and can't even touch her mother. She can't feel the healing love that Daddy says Momma needs.

A brain injury was wisely chosen by Kimberley Griffiths Little, in my opinion, to explore the role of love and hope in healing. It is for the most part true that all doctors can do for brain injured patients is keep them alive and prevent further injury. Doctors cannot knit broken nerves together, at least not yet. But still, brains heal and perhaps love and hope speeds it along.

What will Livie do? Determined to undo Momma's injury, she gets in her pirogue and poles through the swamp to find the "Traiteur," a Cajun folk healer.

The issue of healing after brain injury has been in the news. We have seen, as in the case of Representative Gabby Giffords, that there is a point after brain injury when doctors have less and less to offer. Love and hope has to take over. Can we credit Gabby Gifford's husband, dedicated occupational and speech therapists, family and friends for propelling her along a continuum of recovery? I think we can. Love and hope perhaps creates a healing environment. Is it positive energy? A decrease in stress hormones? It's a mystery.

I think the healing properties of love is behind the traiteur's "spell." The healer's plan is to tap into Livie's love for her mother and use it. How?

To set the "spell" in motion, the Livie is sent on a complicated scavenger hunt. She has to gather personal objects of Momma's and memories about her.

The good memories surprise her. For instance she remembers baking with Mom: "I let out a gasp as a memory rushed into my mind. The only reason I knew how to make snicker doodles at all, my favorite cookie, was because Mama had taught me once. When she was in a good mood, she'd make a batch, and she'd give me a whole plate to eat with milk while they were still warm."

It seems that with each memory, Livie's angry little eleven year old heart grows less cold. This, I think, is what the "traiteur" has intended.

At the end of the novel, as Livie's affection grows, her mother begins to move her limbs. Something magical is happening!

Will Mom get better?

At the end of the book I believed Mom's coma might lift. I also believed that if Mom does heal and get up from her bed someday, Livie's love would have had something to do with it, revealed to her and focused by the wise traitor.

In my opinion, The Healing Spell makes us believe in the healing power of love and hope, something all healers would wisely inventory, encourage, and put to use.


  1. Your post and this book makes me think of the TED talk by Jill Bolte Taylor Stroke of Insight. It is about her recovery from a stroke and I think she talks about her mother's help in her recovery. It had a lot to do with love and hope. But now I'm second guessing myself and thinking that the mother's approach to her healing was in an article I read later. Oh the filing system in my brain!

    1. Your brain is overworked, as is mine, Lindsey. Love is healing, certainly more than the opposite. I'm glad you read the post!

  2. Glory be unto queen sunlight 25yrs I have be very sick
    8yrs ago I survived coma due to the sickness and sometimes
    I witness some scratch and when I do I only have symptoms
    very strong and sometimes the scratching becomes unbearable,
    also have so many disease my tooth burnt to brown I lost my
    beauty my body got swollen, there is really nothing I have not
    done I lost my job as the result of my illness and all the money
    I have made were all spent everything there was no cure I sold my
    only car and use the money for drugs there was no cure the only
    change I see all for my effort trying to make a living because of
    my health I became poor and can't afford drugs anymore for years I
    have been praying to die but death did not come I am still very young
    25yrs and because of the way I look no suitors came to ask me of marriage.
    Then I choose it as my fate maybe that was what I was made for and my i
    contacted sunlight through the helpof chan and i did everything she said
    that day at 12;00pm somthing woke me up to the bathroom i put the shower
    that was how i slept the next day i saw myself been changed and skin became
    fresh the fatness in me burnt i became normal that was how she cured me and
    also gave me a job the comapany i have applying fpr years i can't last night
    the manager called that something tell him to give me this job i am just coming
    from now and i want tell you readers if you can't trust spell caster fair enough
    people has been complaining but goddess is the key if you need her pls feel free
    to email she is real and genuine thanks queen mother i praise