Alanna (The Flashlight Reader)'s Reviews > Ada: Legend of a Healer

Ada by R.A. McDonald
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Mar 23, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: review-requests, 2011, ya
Read in March, 2011

If you had the power to heal, what would you do? Ada is faced with the dilemma in Ada: Legend of a Healer by R.A. McDonald. Growing up in multiple foster homes with people who didn’t understand her or took advantage of her has made Ada somewhat rough around the edges. She has never met her mother or any other living relative. When she exhausts her welcome with her current foster family, Ada’s aunt Jessie comes to the rescue. It’s an odd match, but Ada is thankful for the escape from the foster system.

She quickly learns, however, that Jessie’s life is nothing like what she expected. Living with Jessie means no permanent address, no phone, and no chance of a normal life. Instead, she finds that they are constantly followed and hunted by the deranged Senator Grimes. When she asks Jessie why people are constantly trying to capture them, she learns that Jessie has a unique power. Jessie can heal any sickness with a simple touch. As shocking as this is, it is even more surprising for Ada to learn that she has the power too.

After several narrow escapes and suspenseful chase scenes, Ada arrives in Paris, France looking for her mother, Simone. While in Paris, Ada befriends Madame Jardin. Suddenly, Ada realizes that she wants to heal Madame Jardin’s illness—not because someone is making her, but because she truly wants to do it. With that act, Ada realizes that she does have the power to change someone’s life. Although her time with Madame Jardin is important, meeting Daniel and Uncle Henri end up being the most important events in Ada’s life. With Daniel and his Parkour running group Ada finds true friendship and a sense of belonging. Together, Ada and Daniel set out to find Ada’s mother. Unfortunately, when they find her she is nothing that Ada thought she would be.

If you enjoy fast paced plots, this book certainly has one. There are plenty of chase scenes and narrow escapes to appease the adventure lover. Throughout the book there seems to be an element of subterfuge that never goes away. While the plot is fast paced, it does tend to leave you hanging at the end. Of course, this is because Ada’s story is just beginning. There is an open door for the second installment in this series.

Part of the plot’s lure is the unexpected characters. I wasn’t exactly sure what I expected to find in Ada’s mother—after all the woman abandoned her daughter from birth—but I was certainly surprised. Simone is not at all the loving, warm mother-figure you might expect. I’m not even sure if she was thankful for being rescued. I got the feeling that she has an extreme sense of entitlement, which really makes me dislike her. Adding in her character makes the plot all that more juicy. After all, life is not full of happy endings, so it seems fitting that finding her mother was not Ada’s happy ending.

Not all of the characters are worthy of loathing. In fact, the majority are very enjoyable. Ada is a sardonic teenager. She does not hesitate to lash out with her bitter tongue if the mood strikes her to do so. I personally found her witty and a lot like the teenagers I work with, at least with her attitude towards others. Ada grows as a person during the course of the novel. In the beginning she is untrusting and cold towards most people, but by the end she is defending others and has a sense of connection to Uncle Henri and Daniel and his friends. I enjoyed that she didn’t stay stagnant. Additionally, there is an element of romance between Ada and Daniel (nothing more than a kiss occurs, however). You can feel the tension building between the two, but I don’t feel like it ever went anywhere. It seems that from the beginning Daniel is drawn to Ada—and vice versa—but I never fully understood why. Overall, though, it was a believable match and what seemed like a lack of foundation didn’t bother me.
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