The Virtues of Oxygen

  • by Susan Schoenberger
  • Narrated by Tanya Eby, Laural Merlington
  • 7 hrs and 12 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

From the award-winning author of A Watershed Year comes a heartrending story of unlikely bonds made under dire straits. Holly is a young widow with two kids living in a ramshackle house in the same small town where she grew up wealthy. Now barely able to make ends meet editing the town's struggling newspaper, she manages to stay afloat with help from her family. Then her mother suffers a stroke, and Holly's world begins to completely fall apart.
Vivian has lived an extraordinary life, despite the fact that she has been confined to an iron lung since contracting polio as a child. Her condition means she requires constant monitoring, and the close-knit community joins together to give her care and help keep her alive. As their town buckles under the weight of the Great Recession, Holly and Vivian, two very different women both touched by pain, forge an unlikely alliance that may just offer each an unexpected salvation.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Emotionally moving and uplifting

What did you love best about The Virtues of Oxygen?

The character of Vivien truly brought emotion to the story. The story has great heart, the characters are mostly sympathetic, and it was a heartwarming, entertaining story.


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- Ruth Bain "RueRue"

Ok, but I wanted a little bit more...maybe

This was free through Kindle Unlimited, so I can’t complain too much. And I did finish it—there was enough to keep me interested.

Vivian (in an iron lung—yes, there are still a few polio victims in them) was much more interesting than Holly, though a whole book from Vivian’s POV would have probably been too much. It is rather a credit to the author that she dug deep enough with Vivian’s character but didn’t go dark and depressing. Any time I actually paused to think about life in an iron lung, I just shuddered and wasn’t sure I wanted to keep listening. So there’s the rub. I feel like this should have been a more serious work of fiction, rather than a fairly lightweight novel that tackles many difficult subjects but seems to skate the surface for the most part. But if it had been darker and deeper, I don’t know that I would have finished.

The writing was adequate, but I think if it were just a little better, the book would have been a more engaging read/listen. Speaking of which, the audio narrators were quite good—especially the woman who narrated Vivian’s character.
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- NMwritergal

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-22-2014
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio