My Review of Oxygen: A Novel by Carol Cassella
Submitted by Karen Haney, August, 2008
"Oxygen needed for this breathless thriller"
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.