Here is another Island Bookstore pick from earlier this summer. (My poor mother, who probably rethought accompanying me to the bookstore after we'd been there longer than an hour, is hopefully now realizing what I was doing all that time...): Oxygen, by Carol Cassella. From Amazon:
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.
As a former lawyer, I tend to avoid books with lots of courtroom scenes. I find them tedious, which probably explains why I am no longer practicing law! I read to escape, and litigation scenes feel like work to me. But this book looked good - I liked the idea of seeing things from the doctor's perspective, and delving into her personal life.
From MostlyFiction: "This is a touching book about a courageous and compassionate woman who is nearly brought to her knees by a series of calamities. Cassella's descriptive writing is beautifully crafted and she thoughtfully explores the ways in which people either support or undermine one another."
Without your participation my novel would never really come to life. It's sort of a literary take on the Koan --- those famous Zen paradoxes designed to foster enlightenment: "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" "Does the falling tree make a sound if no one is there to hear it?" Can a book find its true soul until it travels the full circle from my keyboard to your mental movie? Sure, the same question might be raised about almost any artform --- paintings need eyes, operas need ears, perfume needs noses. But a book is a participatory experience too. I can only choose a few details out of millions of possibilities when I build my characters and scenes; a few metaphors that resonate with my concept of the story. Ultimately, I can only offer you a sketch. From there on it's you, the reader, who animates the child's face and shades in the particular hue of that blue sky or sunburned skin. I hand you the template for what has to become your own private journey.