Sometimes I am tempted to review a book in just one word. If temptation were to become a reality for Susan Schoenberger's work 'The Virtues of Oxygen', the word would most probably be 'affirmation'.
For a book that is essentially a treatise to loss and how to deal with it, the intriguingly titled 'The Virtues of Oxygen', manages to affirm life and all its blessings in a way that is both engaging and provoking.
The story is woven around the lives of Vivian and Holly, two women who are dealing with very different types of loss.
Nearly every moment of Vivian's life has been spent coming to terms with the repercussions of a childhood bout of polio. A virus that seems remote and even old-fashioned in modern day America has none the less left Vivian confined to an iron lung since age six.
Now I will do you all a favor and post a picture of an iron lung here as I could not begin to imagine what this was like while I was reading the book.
Righto, back to the review....
Somehow, despite this frankly unimaginable confinement and requiring twenty four hour assistance, Vivian has gradually managed to turn her life into a 'success'.
With friends, money and even her own podcast, Vivian has become the vibrant glue that holds her small community together.
Holly, her friend, volunteer helper and editor of the local newspaper is also dealing with life's harsher realities. Widowed, still grieving and struggling financially she is told that her small newspaper is being shut down.
With having no income a looming reality and mounting debts, (a plight familiar to many people over the GFC, when this story is set), Holly finds herself sinking towards despair.
'The Virtues of Oxygen', may seem bleak from this brief (non spoiler) plot outline, but believe me it is anything but! Somehow hope and joy creep into this book until they become the unlikely dominant force.
Read this for a perspective check, life 'aint that bad' after all!
'The Virtues of Oxygen' is available for purchase from Amazon.com via the following link:
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