Thank you for Visiting

This book club provided an opportunity to discuss books with authors from 2009 - 2013. I like to think we were a group of daughters, sisters, wives, mothers, well... women finding time to meet while juggling daily life.

I hope you enjoy exploring The Manic Mommies Book Club Archives. We read 46 books over the years, with audio or written author discussions for each book read documented on this blog.

~ with kindness & gratitude, Mari

MMBC: Oxygen Discussion begins today!

After dinner was served (takeout Thai for my family and Kim mentioned making supreme nachos) – we had a wonderful discussion with Carol Cassella. I received several emails after the discussion expressing how much the readers enjoyed listening to the author. Thank you to everyone for taking time from your family and busy lives to discuss the book with us.

Let’s get right to it!

Carol is married with two sets of twins, is an anesthesiologist and finds a way to fit writing into her schedule. She starting writing as a hobby but did mention she has always wanted to write a novel and drew upon her life to build aspects of the book. There are two main characters, Marie is a woman with no family and focused on her career and her sister who’s life focuses on family (they are opposites).

The plot twist comes from the fear doctors have, they do not want to harm their patient. She also wanted to write about issues with malpractice and decided to write about her own worst nightmare and what happens when a doctor loses control.

Here are some questions for you, the reader:
- What was your overall view of the book? Did you enjoy it?
- Did you have a favorite character (include why you liked the character)?
- Did you have a favorite part in the book?
- How did your opinion of Marie change from the beginning of the book to the end?
- We didn’t talk about the men in Marie’s life, on the call but I wonder what you thought of Joe.
- Let’s talk about Jolene’s mom. Did you like her as a character?
- Lastly, do you have any questions for the author? If yes, leave them here and I will send a list to Carol.

The following recap is in my own words.

How would the anesthesiologists protocol change if the patient has an existing relationship with the doctor, versus coming to the hospital via ER? It varies depending on the situation (some surgeries take longer, we are not selected by a doctor or patient). They don’t always have a lot of time to establish a relationship and trust is the most important, the first five minutes are critical.

How did you come up with the plot for the book? Did you start with the characters or the idea of the story? When she started the book Carole mentioned that she thought she knew the characters well but they changed with each revision of the novel (as the plot was tweaked). At some degree every character can be a reflection of an author. The more history you give a character the more they can make decisions on their own.

One reader mentioned getting angry at Marie for taking the blame – why was she the only one? Is that what happens in real life? The author reminded us that this is a work of fiction but it is a realistic scenario. With no bleeding, and no obvious place to cast blame it is common for the anesthesiologist to take the blame since they give the go ahead.

Jolene’s medical issue (defect) wasn’t laid out nor did the author include an autopsy in the first draft. Her editor reminded her that readers want answers, they need a conclusion.

How long did it take you to write Oxygen? It took 3 ½ years. Her goal was to write a book for her children. She did get an agent quickly and when the book wasn’t sold she told us that she started burning copies of the book - on a whim sent it to one more agency. A few months later they called, and it was sold within weeks.

Did her family/friends participate in the editing? How did she take their input? While it’s important to get an outside view but hard to take sometimes. Be selective, find someone who is honest and objective – as a writer you have to have a tough skin.

With the death of a child in the book we had to remind some people reading with us (MMBC) to push through this part of the book. When people pushed through Jolene’s death we did learn the book wasn’t centered around this. Was this intentional? She wasn’t sure she wanted to have the patient be a child but it was more realistic with drug doses. Children are vulnerable, our medical system is not fair. She wanted to show this in the beginning and then move from this aspect of the story.

Are you working on a second novel? Her second novel was going to be about human trafficking – when she did the research she couldn’t write about this topic.

Her second novel, out Summer 2010, and is about a woman completing her medical residency (she is married and learns she is pregnant). Flash forward 14 years - she doesn’t finish her residency and ends up working in the medical field with a focus on the financial situation of a family and helping those in need.

What are you reading? Olive Kitteridge

Carol is a member of the Seattle Seven – a group of writers who support each other and are working to raise money for children’s literacy.

The feedback she has received has been so moving. She mentioned a letter from a mother who lost a child during surgery – it broke her heart. The author would love to hear from anyone who has a question or would like to comment on the book. You can visit her website to reach her.

She was off to a piano recital for three of her daughters. Thank you Carol to talking with us this week!

A few of us stayed on after the call to share what we are reading:
- I’m reading The Woman who named God
- Robin is reading People (she’s in book club for the wine)
- Kim just started Brooklyn and is enjoying it
- Sharon French women don’t get Fat (tip: swap OJ for champagne for breakfast!)


  1. I was on the call – I chimed in, but not sure if you heard me. I really liked listening to her -- I think her accounts of people going under anesthesia was totally fascinating (and made me wonder what I was like when I got my appendix out! Ha!)

    Have a great weekend! Are you around that week after Christmas? We should try to do lunch because things will be fairly quiet work wise.


  2. What a great call! It was great to be a part of it. I enjoyed hearing her comments "in person". Thanks for setting it all up!

  3. I read the recap of the call on the blog since I can't seem to get my stuff together to get on the call.

    I almost quit reading when the girl died. It was hard to get through. I am glad I did.

    I don't know that I had a favorite character - although I thought her relationship with her dad was interesting. Somehow that aspect seemed a little unfinished to me.

    I enjoyed when Joe took her off in the plane for the picnic and gave her a chance to relax and reflect. Even though he turned out to be the cause of the girl's death I thought this was a kind gesture.

    I felt so bad for Jolene's mom. She obviously had problems in her life and then her daughter died. I imagined her being manipulated by the attorneys which made me feel worse for her.

    Overall I enjoyed the book. I look forward to her next book. It did make me think about my C-Section. I was hysterical and not the easiest of patients I'm sure. It made me want to find the anesthesiologist and apologize :)


  4. I enjoyed the book and thought it was really well written and a very interesting topic. As someone said on the call, I found that I liked the book more after speaking to the author and hearing about her process, background, etc.

    I liked Marie as a character and felt terrible for her that she seemed to be taking all of the blame for the accident. I was frustrated and shocked that the hospital said they were behind her, yet basically left her out on her own almost disowning her when things became complicated. The thought that her entire career and financial freedom could have vanished from something she did not even do seemed so unfair to me. I did grow frustrated at some points with Marie feeling as though she should be standing up for herself and fighting more.

    Joe---I initially liked Joe and liked their relationship. I thought it was really great that they could be romantically involved and then go back to just friends and be so great at it. They were both in demanding careers and understand each other. However, once things started to unravel I lost confidence in Joe that he had ever been "real" with her. I felt like he was using her, keeping her close so she wouldn't suspect him of any sort of betrayal. I found that to be the most hurtful.

    Overall I enjoyed the book too and also look forward to reading her next book!


  5. I loved the book. I work in healthcare, so the topic was intriguing. I think that being said, my sympathies weren't with Jolene's mom at all...not that it isn't a awful thought, but for the first time in a while I could read a book about child death and not feel badly for the child. Marie, poor Marie, with the hospital (that would be totally what would happen in real life, the hospital would not back you up).
    I do wish the book would have had a bit of a look into the future with Joe at the end, maybe a postcard from Tahiti or something. Just to find out what/where he was. I did guess before the end, what was up with him, but not for quite a while, which was nice. The book made you want to keep reading!
    I did like Marie as a character and continued to like her equally throughout, even when finding out why her Dad and she had an estranged relationship, it made her "real" and not the perfect physician/successful woman that she appeared. Her relationships were interesting, I think that her father's disappointment in her, and the events that lead to that, made it hard for her to have a relationship as a grown woman.
    All in all, great book. I am glad I have found the MMBC! I already finished April/Oliver for next month!