Monday, October 20, 2008

Review and Response for Oxygen...

From Carol Cassella, debuting author of Oxygen...

Hi Ms. Bixler,

Thank you so very much for your kind review! I so appreciate your careful reading and your contribution to the book's future on Amazon. There are a million books out there and it is easy for one debut title to become lost in the fray.

I am such a book lover myself, and I am saddened when I read the statistics on how reading is declining in this country. Good readers and reviewers like you will help keep books alive for the next generation!

All the best,



By Carol Cassella
Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 978-1-4165-5610-7
291 Pages

Oxygen is a breathtaking novel! Not such a catchy phrase when you think what breathtaking means—exciting, astonishing, and inspiring. And, indeed, Carol Cassella’s first novel, Oxygen, is all of those!

Marie Heaton is an anesthesiologist, working as a member of a team at First Lutheran Hospital. Long, hard hours is the norm because there is always a shortage of staff to support the many and varied operations that are scheduled or completed as emergencies. Marie is experienced and has a fine reputation, until...

Jolene Jansen is eight years old. She is scheduled for a “straightforward, short surgery,” the removal of a congenital cyst at the base of her spine, which has resulted in recurrent infections. The only complicating factor being she will have to be turned facedown on the operating room table after she is asleep (p. 22)

Jolene is mildly retarded and her mother as well as the records available presents nothing that would alert a problem. Yet—an emergency situation occurs and Jolene dies.

I was surprised that the anesthesiologist was the first person to be considered to be at fault. But, indeed Heaton was at first investigated, but was later faced with a legal suit from Jolene’s mother, raising the question to a higher level. Even without the legal issue, Heaton herself cannot let the child’s death go—she was constantly going over each procedure, each action that was taken—and by who¾ trying to determine what had happened. Even though her peers told her she was not at fault, she could not accept her own absolution.

At the same time, Marie is faced with a personal crisis as she discusses with her sister the extent to which their father’s health had deteriorated. In particular, his eyesight had failed to the point that he was no longer able to read—a traumatic issue for him, since his life had been full of study and reading! But here, too, Marie only found stress and tension because, although she and her father had been estranged for many years, her sister expected Marie to help—and Marie felt guilty for not doing more for her father.

Only one friend remained for her to lean on. Her long-time friend, once lover, and peer anesthesiologist. And while everything in her world crumbled around her, she once again turned to Joe and found his love to support her.

But when the hospital, and the attorney filed criminal charges against Marie, it is through her own efforts that she discovers exactly why Jolene died—and who was responsible.

From a personal standpoint, I found much in Oxygen that spoke to me—a challenge to her professional life as well as her father’s fear of losing his eyesight. Cassella, as a real-life anesthesiologist has achieved the ultimate goal—her readers are able to empathically place themselves into her main character’s shoes and walk her walk. As readers we can understand the trauma she faces when one of her patients dies, especially a young child. And as a daughter, we are sympathetic when her estrangement with her father is no longer acceptable—he needs her and she feels compelled to respond.

But no matter how empathic, I could not have dreamed of the final outcome of this book! It is reality that we do not want to face—it is life as it is today!

This book had a powerful impact on me personally. It has the potential to do that with many readers! This is one that will stay with you as you ponder the “potential” and the ramifications of each issue that one woman had to face. Highly recommended as a medical thriller!

G. A. Bixler
For Amazon Vine

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