Oxygen by Carol Cassella
A Novel

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With the compassion of Jodi Picoult and the medical realism of Atul Gawande, real-life anesthesiologist Carol Cassella’s riveting national bestseller seamlessly melds compelling women’s fiction and medical drama to create an “involving debut that’s just what the doctor ordered” (People).

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 Carol Cassella

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Carol Cassella majored in English Literature at Duke University and graduated from medical school in 1986. She currently practices anesthesia in Seattle and is a freelance medical writer specializing in global public health advocacy for the developing world. She lives in Bainbridge Island, Washington, with her husband and their two sets of twins.
Published July 1, 2008 by Simon & Schuster. 337 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Oxygen

Kirkus Reviews

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A child's inexplicable death on the operating table causes an implosion in the life of the anesthesiologist in charge.

Jun 24 2010 | Read Full Review of Oxygen: A Novel

Publishers Weekly

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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

Apr 28 2008 | Read Full Review of Oxygen: A Novel

The Bookbag

I haven't read any medical fiction before, so I hoped that the language used within the book wouldn't be too technical and difficult to understand but Cassella has cleverly balanced the use of medical and layman's language throughout the novel and I had no problems in understanding any of the med...

Oct 24 2009 | Read Full Review of Oxygen: A Novel

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