Over the winter break I finally had time to read, and boy did I read! It was so nice to finally have time to read for pleasure instead of my usual pages upon pages of anatomy, physiology, and pharmacology! As I was walking through Walmart finishing up some Christmas shopping, I stumbled upon the book Oxygen by Carol Cassella. It was published in 2008, so I’m not sure why it was out on Walmart’s shelves now. But boy, am I sure happy it was!

The novel follows an anesthesiologist named Marie who loses a patient on the table. Worst of all? The patient was only 8 years old and it was a routine surgery. The story follows Marie through the aftermath – relationship changes, law suits, love, you name it, the book has it!

Carol Cassella is an anesthesiologist herself who did her undergraduate degree in English Literature at Duke. Suffice to say, I was very excited to read a medically inspired book that was a work of fiction by AN ACTUAL DOCTOR!!

Cassella does a marvellous job of humanizing physicians. We don’t always have the answers and we too doubt ourselves. The story is told from first person perspective. Cassella is masterful in making Marie’s voice clear.  You feel the pain and anguish that Marie feels as she feels it.

I think the reason why this book resonates so deeply with me is that it that is captures the worries I feel as a trainee and future physician. Unlike many other careers, the decisions that we make can truly be live or death decisions. Long nights and family illness just don’t hold up as validation when a life has been lost due to your decisions.

I’m not sure why this book is only rated 3.6/5 on Goodreads.  I think that people are wrong, wrong, wrong!! The book is part thriller, part pop fiction, and part medical drama all wrapped into one very quick read. While it seems like a run of the mill Picoult-esque legal drama, the story ends with an exciting plot twist that you’ll just have to read for yourself!

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