Sunday, March 7, 2010

Review: Oxygen by Carol Cassella

Summary from Goodreads:
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.

I was a little weary when I first picked up Oxygen. A story about an anesthesiologist? Definitely not my usual read, but I was pleasantly surprised. Oxygen was a great read! It reminded me of a hospital drama television show like Grey's Anatomy. The reader can most certainly tell that a doctor wrote this book. The medical terminology, equipment, procedures, and anything else medical related seemed extremely accurate and realistic to me.

Marie is an anesthesiologist who has a young child die on the operating child causing her to face a malpractice suit. Marie ends up beating herself up for this disastrous situation. She goes through each step she took over and over in her head trying to determine where she went wrong. The malpractice suit drags on for months with no settlement in sight, which is obviously a extremely stressful situation to be put in.

Through these hardships, Marie discovers who her true friends are among her colleagues as she tries to save her reputation and her career, which has been her number one priority since medical school. Through all of these struggles, Marie ends up spending more time with her former lover, best friend, and colleague, Dr. Joe Hillary. I must say that I really liked Joe's personality. He never really seemed like the serious, mature doctor type. He was kind of goofy in a good way.

Through the course of the book, Marie confronts a roller coaster of emotions from love to betrayal. I was completely caught off guard by the twist towards the end. I just did not see it coming! Definitely not predictable (at least for me).

I enjoyed Oxygen. It was well written and provided a great story. I thought the characters were well developed, and it seemed realistic! I could see this story happening in the real world, but what do I know about the life of a doctor? Definitely would recommend this book to any adult reader.

Rating: 4.5/5

Swords are for fighting,

1 comment:

  1. This sounds like a really interesting read! I think I may have to pick it up.