Know what makes me happy? When I make friends with a writer and I’m a fan of her books. Which makes me glad I know Carol. Here’s an excerpt of my review of her debut novel. It’s published in its entirety on my favorite review site: www.writersarereaders.com.

Physician Carol Cassella’s haunting debut novel has generated a lot of pre-pub buzz — for good reason. It’s exactly the sort of book that gets people excited — fresh and different, something you can’t wait to share with a friend or better yet, with your book group. It’s a clear-your-schedule and turn-off-the-phone novel, the kind you want to hide away and read straight through to the end.

OXYGEN tells the story of Dr. Marie Heaton, a gifted anaesthesiologist facing a doctor’s worst nightmare — dealing with the fallout after something in the O.R. goes terribly wrong. It’s not a thriller, although a sense of impending danger and doom pervades each scene, building to a stunning and inexorable climax. Nor is it a medical procedural, though the book pulls aside the curtains on the mysterious and frightening (to lay people, anyway) workings of the operating room. OXYGEN is a story of tragedy and redemption, intricately plotted and told in a compelling voice that will keep you riveted to the page.

[…] I loved this book the way I loved MIDWIVES by Chris Bohjalian. I imagine there will also be favorable comparisons to THE MEMORY KEEPER’S DAUGHTER, or maybe THE LOVELY BONES. The publisher describes this book as “Atul Gawande meets Jodi Picoult,” an awkward but apt shorthand to tell the reader that it combines the literary medical voice of the former with the tautly wound psychological drama of the latter. Yet Cassella writes with a quiet precision and grace all her own, firmly establishing herself as a talent to watch.

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