A Novel


From national bestselling author Carol Cassella comes the story of one doctor’s struggle to hold her family together through a storm of broken trust and questioned ethics.

Claire is at the start of her medical career when she falls in love with Addison Boehning, a biochemist with blazing genius and big dreams. A complicated pregnancy deflects Claire’s professional path, and she is forced to drop out of her residency. Soon thereafter Addison invents a simple blood test for ovarian cancer, and his biotech start-up lands a fortune. Overnight the Boehnings are catapulted into a financial and social tier they had never anticipated or sought: they move into a gracious Seattle home and buy an old ranch in the high desert mountains of eastern Washington, and Claire drifts away from medicine to become a full-time wife and mother.

Then Addison gambles everything on a cutting-edge cancer drug, and when the studies go awry, their comfortable life is swept away. Claire and her daughter, Jory, move to a dilapidated ranch house in rural Hallum, where Claire has to find a job until Addison can salvage his discredited lab. Her only offer for employment comes from a struggling public health clinic, but Claire gets more than a second chance at medicine when she meets Miguela, a bright Nicaraguan immigrant and orphan of the contra war who has come to the United States on a secret quest to find the family she has lost. As their friendship develops, a new mystery unfolds that threatens to destroy Claire’s family and forces her to question what it truly means to heal.

Healer exposes the vulnerabilities of the American family, provoking questions of choice versus fate, desire versus need, and the duplicitous power of money.
  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 320 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781416556145 | 
  • June 2011
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Healer includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Carol Cassella. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Claire Boehning’s life of privilege and ease in Seattle comes crashing down thanks to her husband, Addison’s, gamble on a biotech venture. Now they must retreat with their 14-year-old daughter to a bare-bones ranch house in rural Washington, where Claire struggles to revive a long-dormant medical career in order to support her family. The follow-up to Carol Cassella’s national bestseller Oxygen, Healer explores the fallout of broken trust, the ongoing struggle to be truly understood, and the ultimate redemption of love and family. 


  1. Claire’s new life in Hallum seems a cold reality compared to her wealthy life in Seattle--a perception only compounded by the harsh winter weather. She feels out of touch with her husband, who spent their life savings without telling her, out of touch with her teenage daughter, Jory, who is much less communicative with her than with Addison, out of touch with her profession, where s
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About the Author

Carol Cassella
Susan Doupe

Carol Cassella

Carol Cassella, MD, is a practicing anesthesiologist, novelist, and speaker. She majored in English literature at Duke University and attended Baylor College of Medicine. She is the bestselling author of the novels Gemini, Oxygen, and Healer, published by Simon & Schuster. Carol lives on Bainbridge Island, Washington, with her husband and two sets of twins. Visit the author at CarolCassella.com.