Healer, A Novel by John M. Wills


Healer reminds me of a Norman Rockwell print. Rockwell could transform the most ordinary, everyday events into the most extraordinary images. He filled his portraits with warm, happy, generous, uplifting people.

Hidden among a cohort of typical high school kids, Wills finds the extraordinary, the superhero — the healer. Of course every story needs a few villains. Whereas the video game culture would encourage the young adults to viciously dispatch their evil attackers, the healer bucks that trend, challenging us to show compassion.

The power to heal, like most God-given-gifts, is meant to be shared, and it comes at a cost to the healer. Remember the press of the mobs that flocked to Jesus, seeking cures. Let’s not forget the pushback from the religious authorities of Jesus’ day. Could that happen if a healer appeared among us today?

Billy Anderson, the healer, can’t heal himself. He struggles with physical infirmity, homelessness, encounters with the police, and the loss of family and close friends. He’s something of a teenage Job who asks, “Why does God allow suffering?” Even Jesus couldn’t heal everyone. So too, Billy endures the pain of helplessness as those he loves suffer.

Fortunately, he’s on good terms with God. He’s exceptional among his friends in that he fits an early Mass into the flow of his day and prays frequently. He’s ordinary in so many other ways, and he’s discounted by many. Billy gives himself as God’s instrument, serving as a seed crystal, about whom his community grows as a bright and shining gem. Billy is lost in the midst of this gleaming jewel. Those who give him a chance come away all the better for meeting him. Those who selfishly want to take something from Billy, may go away empty.

The author portrays realistic characters and situations. The dialogue and reading level are suitable for the young adult audience. The author keep his readers intrigued, and he finishes his novel with a punch the reader never sees coming. I’d say Healer qualifies as appropriate reading as we approach the Year of Mercy.


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