Oxygen

By Carol Cassella
(Simon & Schuster, Hardcover, 9781416556107, 304pp.)

Publication Date: July 1, 2008

Other Editions of This Title: Paperback

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Selected by Indie Booksellers for the July 2008 Indie Next List
“When Dr. Marie Heaton's judgment in a tragic case is questioned, she begins to doubt herself and, then, others around her. I thoroughly enjoyed the book -- full of action and suspense and rich in characterization and subplots -- from start to finish.”
-- Gayle Wingerter, Inklings Bookshop, Yakima, WA
Selected by Indie Booksellers for the Fall '09/Winter '10 Reading Group List
“Dr. Marie Heaton, a successful anesthesiologist at a prominent Seattle hospital, must come to terms with an operating-room tragedy, including the fallout from the hospital, the patient's family, and her conscience. Cassella has written an absolutely honest emotional portrayal of a kind, strong, and dedicated woman caught up in a crisis of doubt and remorse. A provocative, intelligent, and beautifully faceted book.”
-- Tova Beiser, Brown University Bookstore, Providence, RI


Description

With the compassion of Jodi Picoult and the medical realism of Atul Gawande, Oxygen is a riveting new novel by a real-life anesthesiologist, an intimate story of relationships and family that collides with a high-stakes medical drama.

Dr. Marie Heaton is an anesthesiologist at the height of her profession. She has worked, lived and breathed her career since medical school, and she now practices at a top Seattle hospital. Marie has carefully constructed and constricted her life according to empirical truths, to the science and art of medicine. But when her tried-and-true formula suddenly deserts her during a routine surgery, she must explain the nightmarish operating room disaster and face the resulting malpractice suit. Marie's best friend, colleague and former lover, Dr. Joe Hillary, becomes her closest confidante as she twists through depositions, accusations and a remorseful preoccupation with the mother of the patient in question. As she struggles to salvage her career and reputation, Marie must face hard truths about the path she's chosen, the bridges she's burned and the colleagues and superiors she's mistaken for friends.

A quieter crisis is simultaneously unfolding within Marie's family. Her aging father is losing his sight and approaching an awkward dependency on Marie and her sister, Lori. But Lori has taken a more traditional path than Marie and is busy raising a family. Although Marie has been estranged from her Texas roots for decades, the ultimate responsibility for their father's care is falling on her.

As her carefully structured life begins to collapse, Marie confronts questions of love and betrayal, family bonds and the price of her own choices. Set against the natural splendor of Seattle, and inside the closed vaults of hospital operating rooms, Oxygen climaxes in a final twist that is as heartrending as it is redeeming.




About the Author

Carol Cassella majored in English Literature at Duke University and is a graduate from Baylor College of Medicine. She currently practices anesthesiology in Seattle and is a freelance writer specializing in global public health advocacy for the developing world. She is the mother of four children, and is working on her third novel. Visit the author at www.carolcassella.com.

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