The Healer of Fox Hollow
By Joann Rose Leonard
(Vantage Point, Paperback, 9781936467358, 304pp.)
Publication Date: July 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 horrible accident. “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.
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.
“Tough, tender, and terrifying beautiful…a wonderful book.” – John Pielmeier, author of Agnes of God
“A serpentine narrative that coils and grips and bites. It’s moving and funny…[an] amazing novel…I am speechless!” --Tony Award-winning director, Frank Galati , “The Grapes of Wrath,” “Ragtime”