Reviewed by Susan Morris
A potent, thought-provoking story collection rife with book club discussion.
The Healing Book by Dustin Grinnell is a scintillating collection of twelve short stories centered around a common theme of man’s search for meaning.
There’s a lot to enjoy in this collection. Grinnell’s background in the medical industry shines through with many intriguing story elements and details that bring the action to life. With stories as wide-ranging as this one, it is best to talk about the collection as the sum of its parts, i.e. some of its finest stories.
The first story, “Beyond Medicine,” is about Allie, a neurosurgeon plagued by her sister’s death and struggling to accept the things she cannot control. In some ways, this tale is reminiscent of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, with its supernatural influences and their impact on Allie’s journey. What a way to open.
Sebastian has no idea what he’s getting himself into in “An Affable Man,” as he goes to a marine park in San Diego for a break from work. Of course, readers won’t expect it either. In “The Dark Side of Destiny,” a journalist tasked with writing obituaries seeks to broaden his career path by crafting investigative pieces into the side effects of seeking a cure. What he finds is nothing short of compelling.
“Cured” is an emotionally charged tale of hope and perseverance and the best short story in this collection. It’s about Peter Spaulding, a research scientist focused on curing malaria, who travels to a remote hospital to experience the fallout of the disease. I didn’t expect to find something inspiring here, but the story rises above expectations and leaves me feeling fulfilled and hopeful.
“Chasing Fireflies at Midnight” is a heartwarming family story about a grandson who reconnects with his grandmother in her later years and turns their interactions into something more.
“Going Through the Motions” is a story about Graham, a former self-help junkie who plots to share his new-found wisdom with conferencegoers by undermining a famous guru’s credibility. But instead, he’s faced with an unexpected challenge that forces him to make a difficult choice.
“The Case of Aphantasia” explores how the treatment of a psychological disturbance might morph into a more intense psychological problem. A comparison between the story and the therapeutic exploration of childhood traumas that create issues for adults can easily be drawn.
Written in a skilled and knowledgeable style, The Healing Book combines entertainment with thoughtful exploration of life’s more complex subjects in a fresh and intuitive way. It would be great for book clubs interested in meaningful philosophical discussions.
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