Aug 252014


The Virtues of Oxygen by Susan Schoenberger

Paperback: 242 pages
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (July 22, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1477822798
ISBN-13: 978-1477822791

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.


This is a very inspirational book. I loved Vivian! So strong and courageous! Even though her life was a struggle, she never gave up and was a beacon of hope to others. Holly was also a very interesting character who was such a caring person even in her darkest times. The relationship between Vivian and Holly was everything a relationship between friends should be. I was so glad they found each other.

I liked the authors writting style, the words flowed easily and I could see in my head what I was reading. I loved the town and people of Bertram Corners. They had compassion for each other, and especially for Vivian. I’d love to live in a town like that.

Besides being a good read, you will probably learn a thing or two about polio. I never knew anyone with polio, but have read about it and know what a horrific thing it was. I knew what an iron lung was, but didn’t know someone could survive so many years with one.

The ending was a mix of emotions. I went from being sad to happy in just a few paragraphs.

This was a very good book and I would hightly recommend it. It’s not very long, only 242 pages, but leaves a big impact on you.

This is the first book by this author that I’ve read, but I loved it so much that now I want to read her first novel, A Watershed Year.


f84fb48448010ac1d188a0.L._V174929624_ Susan Schoenberger, of West Hartford, CT, is a writer, editor and copy editor with a long history of working for news organizations, including The Baltimore Sun, The Hartford Courant, and She is now Director of Communications for Hartford Seminary. “A Watershed Year,” her debut novel, won the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition in 2006 under the title “Intercession.” Susan’s short stories have been published in Inkwell, Village Rambler and on Susan’s second novel, “The Virtues of Oxygen,” will be published by Lake Union Publishing in July 2014.

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  7 Responses to “Review: The Virtues of Oxygen by Susan Schoenberger”

  1. This novel sounds fascinating and intriguing. thanks for the great giveaway.

  2. I would enjoy this wonderful book. Many thanks.

  3. So glad you connected with the characters and with Bertram Corners. Thanks for the lovely review!

  4. This is a new to me author, who has now been added to my TBR! Thanks for the giveaway!

  5. It sounds like a very touching story. I love how the community comes together to care for Vivian. I would enjoy reading this book. Thanks for having the giveaway.

  6. Polio is one of those diseases that I’m so glad science found a way to prevent for the most part. What a horrible disease!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour. I’m looking forward to getting to know Vivian myself.

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