Lindsay Weber, September 16, 2009 (view all comments by Lindsay Weber)
Although this is fiction, everything this real life anesthesiologist describes is true, from the malpractice lawsuits in healthcare right down to the descriptions of the OR and its penchant for gossip and heavy eye makeup showing above a surgical mask. You will be frightened by the discovery in the end but come to understand that it is sadly common. As a nurse already fascinated by anesthesia, I loved this story and highly recommend to those in healthcare and those who are not.
Laurie Blum, August 18, 2009 (view all comments by Laurie Blum)
"As the daughter of a family practioner who began treating patients in the late 1930s (pre-penicillin) when ether was the preferred method of anesthesia, I could truly relate to the dedication of the medical profession that is so effectively presented in Carol Cassella's "Oxygen."
The author's precise narrative style perfectly mirrors the workings of a gifted physician’s mind. With blade-sharp insight, she lays bare the failings of a well-run but flawed hospital & the larger health-care system. When a routine procedure goes horribly wrong & leads to the death of an innocent child which includes the horror of a single mother, Dr. Marie Heaton, anesthesiologist, finds herself in the midst of a storm that threatens her career, her self-confidence & the choices she’s made inside & out of the Operating Room. The ending is deeply emotional, resonating with powerful sentiment yet never sentimental. This fiction will provide several quality hours of discussion in book review clubs. Do not miss this new book!"
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Simon & Schuster -
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"Powered by Cassella's 25 years in the medical field, this nicely wrought debut follows the travails of an experienced Seattle anesthesiologist after an eight-year-old patient dies while under the knife. In the aftermath, Dr. Marie Heaton is entangled in both her grief and a malpractice lawsuit. As the many meetings with attorneys blur together and autopsy results are awaited, Marie, who regrets having missed out on the 'intended stream of marriage and motherhood,' mediates the domestic squabbles in her sister's family; leans on and gets leaned on by colleague and ex-lover-turned-best friend, Joe Hillary; and tries to come to a dtente with her widowed father, who is losing his vision and with it his autonomy. As Marie is increasingly scrutinized, a few unexpected twists slyly work themselves into the investigation of the death, and the ice between Marie and her father slowly thaws. The prose is competent and the plot moves at a brisk pace, but the real hook is Cassella's knowing portrayal of the health industrial complex's inner workings; she knows the turf and doesn't spare readers the nasty bits. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"This novel is written with a clear, even hand, and the reader feels like a part of the heady world of high-stakes surgery....[A] great read with some juicy surprises."
by Denver Post,
"[A] vibrant debut....Oxygen" is the work of a writer who is in full command of her craft. In lesser hands, the story could have bogged in medical minutiae, but Cassella never loses sight of the fact that stories are most compelling when they are about people."
by Seattle Times,
"Cassella's musings on medicine are astute and probing....The ethics of the drama, and Cassella's portrayal of the very real and contemporary flaws in our health-care system, make this novel a promising debut."
by Lalita Tademy, author of Cane River,
"In Oxygen, Carol Cassella's taut novel, Dr. Marie Heaton, an assured anesthesiologist at the top of her game, is forced to face the personal and professional fallout from an operating room disaster. Marie finds herself on the losing end of dollars-and-cents medicine in a malpractice suit, questioning herself, her skills, her colleagues, and her life choices. I couldn't wait to race to the end to see how her story played out, and I wasn't disappointed."
A compelling, complex, and riveting debut by a real-life anesthesiologist, Oxygen is at once a lyrically written medical adventure and a heartfelt drama in the tradition of Chris Bohjalian's Midwives and Jodi Picoult's My Sister's Keeper.
by Simon and Schuster,
A riveting new book that expertly combines compelling women's fiction with medical drama by a real-life anesthesiologist and student of David Guterson. Think Jodi Picoult meets Atul Gawande.
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