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Oxygen: A Novel Hardcover – July 1, 2008
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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.
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OK enough about ME!
The medical viewpoint is something I LOVE in books - Kay Scarpetta type assumptions that I am smart enough to understand what they are talking about! This book has that and I love that! (there is never enough about ME)
On the other hand I am not very tolerant of story arcs built on melodramatic emotional inner turmoil regurgitating the same whine over and over again and there was a bit of that here that took away from my personal immersion. (thus the missing fifth star)
This book has many layers of messages that need to be heard and they are delivered in a wonderful way.
Dr. Marie Heaton is a skilled anesthesiologist. Her life is off track and her career at risk when a child dies during surgery and Marie is being sued for malpractice. Although she tries to keep working, she must work to find out exactly what happened during the operation in order to retain her career, finances and, possibly, even freedom.
It is also a time for her to deal with personal and family relationships with a fellow doctor, her sister's family and her father.
Carol Cassella's background as an anesthesiologist is very much in evidence. I found the information fascinating and it did add tension to the operation and hospital scenes.
While I never considered putting the book down, I kept wondering when something would start happening. The book is labeled as "a novel' rather than a mystery. Much of the story is taken up with Marie's personal life. It wasn't bad but neither was it that interesting.
The investigation of what happened during the surgery was handled as a secondary story line instead, which, for me, was the more interesting thread. However, I also foresaw one of major elements in the plot very early on and found the ending abrupt. The book was a good read but a rather forgettable one.
The best part was that I didn't sell e the ending coming at all. A rare treat. Highly recommend this one.
Most recent customer reviews
Slow plot development and to much... would i, should I ...I am just not sure
Maybe a gender thing.