I’ve enjoyed Peter Dickinson’s work for many years. I first read his “The Changes Trilogy” in the 1970s. It’s about an apocalyptic future Britain where all machinery is forbidden. Other books of his I’ve enjoyed are “Emma Tupper’s Diary” about a girl who discovers the Loch Ness Monster, and particularly the recent epic fantasies “The Ropemaker” and “Angel Isle.”
“Healer” was written in 1983 and is nearly devoid of any fantasy or science fiction elements. The young girl of the title seems to have the ability to heal others she touches mentally, and that might be fantastic to some, not so much to others, but otherwise the tale is grounded in reality. The protagonist is sixteen-year-old Barry Evans, a working-class boy in a dreary part of suburban England who befriends Pinkie, the healer, at school. Later Pinkie becomes the focal point of a cult-like research and healing center which Barry infiltrates to find out if she is really there voluntarily. The two hatch a plot of escape that turns the story into an exciting thriller.
Good writing, as with most of Dickinson’s work, and recommended even if you only like his more fantastic work. Here’s a link to the current U.S. edition.