by Carol Cassella
3.9 135


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Oxygen by Carol Cassella

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781416556114
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 06/09/2009
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 273,261
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Carol Cassella, MD, is a practicing anesthesiologist, novelist, and speaker. She majored in English literature at Duke University and attended Baylor College of Medicine. She is the bestselling author of the novels Gemini, Oxygen, and Healer, published by Simon & Schuster. Carol lives on Bainbridge Island, Washington, with her husband and two sets of twins. Visit the author at CarolCassella.com.

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Oxygen 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 135 reviews.
Rena_A More than 1 year ago
This is a novel about Dr Marie Heaton an anesthesiologist in Seattle who after 7 years of excellent patient care finds herself in the middle of a malpractice lawsuit. This story grips at her pain and frustration about why this patient died on her table. The truth is a shocker. A must read for all but definetely for anyone in the healthcare field.
TulaneGirl More than 1 year ago
"...You just make a place for them. Learn to let them sit there with you, side by side with the good." Dr. Marie Heaton is an experienced anesthesiologist who has dedicated her life to her craft - partly because she loves what she does and who she is professionally, but also because she is running from who she is personally. Working insane hours, always on the verge of absolute exhaustion, she has little time for her extended family and personal life. But thankfully, this story isn't about finding satisfaction and completion in her personal life. Rather it's her professional life that is in shambles. Despite being a very good anesthesiologist, an 8 year old girl dies after a routine operation. Although initially supported by the hospital and her fellow doctors, it soon becomes apparent that due to impending litigation, loyalty becomes a precious commodity. Dr. Heaton must come to terms with her perceived betrayal of the very institution to which she has given so much of herself. And things only get worse when it looks like criminal charges might be coming. This book offers interesting insight into the relationship between medicine and the law and the pressures the law exerts on doctors involved in malpractice suits. The very people with whom a doctor should be able to review a case, to discuss all possibilities, are the very people who could be compelled to testify against that very same doctor. Hence, being accused of malpractice thrusts the doctor into an extremely lonely world. Almost peripherally, the author also delves into Dr. Heaton's familial life. Having been forced to take some time off, Dr. Heaton visits her sister with whom she is close, but has always been guarded. There, she realizes that it's time to make peace with her father, whom she hasn't seen in three years. I must admit that at times it seems that Dr. Heaton's personal story lines are added almost as filler - as a way to make her seem more human, but does little to advance the story line. Still, the writing is impeccable, although a little complex at times. But its technicality is what makes the book so authentic and genuine. Dr. Heaton thinks and speaks exactly as you would imagine a doctor to do so. The negatives of this book? There are times when Dr. Heaton seems a little unlikeable because she is so self-absorbed. For example, she attends the 8 year old's funeral because she feels she needs to, never thinking about the girl's mother and what she needs. So soon after the girl's death, the person who is possible responsible for her daughter's death is the last person that should be there - and yet, Dr. Heaton decides she has to, for her own sake. Yet, the unlikeable moments are few and far between. And for the most part, the book remains a good medical/legal drama.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The formal review compares this author's sensitivity in her writing to Jodi Picoult and I can see the connection, but in my opinion, Cassella is a step above. She capably moves the original plot along and lets the reader fully understand her characters, filling her story with deep emotion while not grasping for a forced simile or metaphor at every turn like Picoult all too often does. The novel revolves around seasoned professional anesthesiologist Dr. Marie Heaton and the tailspin her personal, professional, and especially her emotional life takes when an 8-year old child dies during a routine operation she participated in. Casella deftly handles explaining the medical terminology and what has gone wrong without leaving the non-medical reader feeling lost or bored. She also presents a variety of characters that are genuinely likeable despite being flawed, and gives the reader a glimpse into the harsh realities of the world of medicine and hospital bottom lines. Casella's writing rings true of her experiences in this field and her story ending, while not a "happily-ever-after" scenario is satisfying. This is a definitely a writer worth following.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It should be this one. Brilliant doctor, brilliant debut. The kind of book you can't wait to tell your friends about. IN fact, I'm going to call my mother right now...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's amazing how a story with pain and depression can bring out empowerment in the reader! Well done!
Dr.BF More than 1 year ago
By reading the synopsis I thought this would be a good book. I was somewhat disappointed. The writing style is dry, no real character development. The main character is an anesthesiologist who basically ends up losing a child on the operating table. Was it her fault or not? She basically is haunted by this and cannot get over it. After the incident it seemed the story just dragged with no real suprises or twists. Quick read, but not worth buying.
lineman_yf More than 1 year ago
This was a great book. One of those that you pick up and can't set back down. I would reccommend it to anyone who loves a great suspense book. Can't wait to read other books by this author!! Definately a 5 star book!!
donnareads911 More than 1 year ago
This story is truly a page turner. It is the story of an anesthesiologist, Dr. Marie Heaton, and gives a graphic, realistic read of her daily life and one day, a tragedy. It is centered in Seattle, a place that I've visited often, and it's description of the area and places is right on the money. It's also not "just" a medical read, it gives romance and a wonderful mystery/twist. It doesn't hurt that the author is, really, an anesthesiologist! Would love to find another book by the author someday. Soon!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The PERFECT read. Great characters and character development, suspense, factual information--Oxygen has it all.
samySY More than 1 year ago
Excellent and gripping story. Fast reading but still kept your interest. Recommend for summer read on the beach
RMBS More than 1 year ago
I would highly recommend this book. Cassella does an amazing job of developing her characters, but not too deliberately which makes it a smart read. Dr. Heaton is very likable and I found my emotions mirroring hers many times throughout the book. The ending will be a huge surprise...I highly recommend this for great writing, likable characters and an interesting plot. If you're tired of the same of chick lit, pick up this smart read and enjoy! :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well written, several unexpected twists and turns, good book!
PaigeNicole More than 1 year ago
One of the best books I have ever read! All of the characters are captivating! Every page is a mystery as Dr.Marie Heaton tries to uncover the reason of the unnecessary death of a young child while in her hands. The ending, and the REAL reason for the child's death, is such a shock!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was not captivating. The plot and characters were ordinary. If you enjoy twists and turns that keep you guessing, I would not recommend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting story woven into a quilt of information about how surgery is performed. I found the book most interesting for its comments on the health care in the US -- the book jacket says the ailing healthcare system.
mamaphibbs More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Carol Cassella¿s mixture of mystery and medical thriller, supported by the authenticity of her many years as an anesthesiologist, results in her page turning debut book, Oxygen: A Novel. Casella¿s Dr. Marie Heaton is also an anesthesiologist who is passionate and professional about her life¿s work. She works at Seattle¿s First Lutheran Hospital where she prides herself in the care and expertise with which she conducts her everyday life as a physician. Starting out as a routine day, with a busy schedule that includes a pediatric case of an 8 year old, mentally challenged girl later in the afternoon, Dr. Heaton¿s day suddenly turns into every doctor¿s worse nightmare. What should have been a simple operation to remove a cyst on little Jolene Jansen¿s back, results in tragedy and finds Marie shockingly facing a malpractice suit as she questions herself as to what went wrong. What follows is Marie¿s life falling apart as she is enveloped in legal paperwork, autopsy results, self recrimination, and the realization that people who were her supporters are quick to abandon her. Her one time lover, Dr. Joe Hillary, becomes the person she thinks she can count on to help her make it though this horror and try and save her career. Add to this, a problem in Marie¿s personal life as her aging father is becoming more dependent on others as his eyesight fails. Marie finds that the responsibility for his care suddenly comes to her even though her connection with her family in Texas has not been a close one for years. Her sister Lori, however, is busy raising a family and so Marie is left with not much of a choice as to the care of her father. Everything in Dr. Heaton¿s once precisely ordered life begins to crumble as everyone and every part of her life suddenly seems to be crashing in on her. How Carol Cassella brings the story to its climax and Marie Heaton¿s life turns out, is told with the expertise of a seasoned writer. The truth of the profession and the workings of medical field are never glossed over by Casella as she gives the reader a REAL look at what goes on in this medical industry while still engaging us in a thriller that only leaves us wanting more from this wonderful new author. Submitted by Karen Haney, August, 2008
Guest More than 1 year ago
I must admit that I seldom complete a book cover to cover, but this one I did! What a superb story. It kept my interest from the beginning to the end, including some unsuspecting turns along the way. Please keep writing more just like it!
Anonymous 29 days ago
I have just returned from hours lived in the life of a complicated, decent human being, and I will miss her. The author's vividly detailed descriptions of how Marie sees and lives her life made the story immediate and real on every page. The plot twists are always believable, and the characters always ring true. This is a remarkably well-written book. I loved the experience of reading it, and the discovery of such a talented writer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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ajWA More than 1 year ago
How the author can weave such a hypnotizing page-turner from a discussion of anesthetics is a miracle to me. Casella clearly knows her medical lingo (being an anesthesiologist herself), but she really shines as a writer, skillfully keeping our attention on the developing story of betrayal, while also keeping us guessing as to what really happened. There is also an underlying cogent commentary as to the complexity of the medical malpractice boondoggle.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not what I was expecting. The "mystery" kind of jumps up on you, and then is resolved in the last 40 pages very cleanly. Not realistic. I found all of the medical explanations, especially learning about the malpractice process, more interesting than the mystery itself.
CluckLE More than 1 year ago
I have been talking to all my friends about this one. For a first novel, I can't wait till March for the next one. I couldn't put it down. The story line and writing draw the reader in to the surprise twist and turn. Wow. I can't say enough. I'm a fan now!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. The outcome was not what I expected, great twist.