Monday, August 4, 2014

Review: The Virtues of Oxygen

The Virtues of Oxygen
By Susan Schoenberger
Lake Union Publishing July 2014
229 pages
Received for review from TLC Book Tours and the publisher

The Virtues of Oxygen

Holly is at the end of her rope. She desperately misses her husband who died several years ago. Her teen sons are constantly hungry and constantly growing. Her small town newspaper is faltering and Holly fears that she doesn't have the funds anymore for her family to keep their beloved home. Across town, Vivian has a different set of worries. As a child, she contracted polio and has spent the rest of her life living in an iron lung. She must depend on the kindness of her friends and neighbors to keep her alive. Can the two women find a way to help each other?

This book is somewhat lighter fare than I usually read. We have the small town setting with a colorful cast of characters. We meet many quirky citizens who volunteer to help Vivian or work at the newspaper with Holly. Some of the plot points are rather predictable. When a handsome and mysterious man arrives in town, the reader assumes (and rightly so) that Racine will become a love interest for Holly. You may also put together the ways in which Holly and Vivian will be able to help each other, even before they do. 

In spite of this, this is a greatly enjoyable book. It's so refreshing to read about regular people with regular problems, both personal and financial. There are so many stories out here about the crises of the wealthy (I'm thinking specifically of recent reads such as We Were Liars and Seating Arrangements). But I think there is something important about a story that is more familiar to many of us - worrying about finances, rearranging to make the ends meet, and either helping or being helped out by our families. 

While the main storyline follows Vivian and Holly in the future, we learn about Vivian's past through flashbacks and through the podcasts that she records. Vivian has such an interesting story to share with her neighbors and with us. In spite of her physical limitations, she decided to do big things. Vivian was one of the first people in town to learn about and own a computer. She used her computer skills to teach others and earn her degree in business. Her know-how allows her to invest in businesses which gives her renewed purpose and brings new life to her beloved but floundering town.

This book is a quiet but important read as we are reminded of the importance of taking care of each other. Holly and Vivian are characters you root for as they fight for their relationships, for financial stability, and sometimes just for the next breath.  The Virtues of Oxygen is an uplifting read about the importance of community.

Wondering what other bloggers think about The Virtues of Oxygen? You can visit 23 other tour stops here!

Giveaway: I have one copy of The Virtues of Oxygen to give away to one awesome reader. To enter, leave me a comment on this post and include your email address. I will choose a winner two weeks from now (August 18).


  1. This sounds like fun! I don't mind predictable books as long as they're engaging (so that I want to keep reading even though I KNOW what's going to happen). I agree that "[i]t's so refreshing to read about regular people with regular problems, both personal and financial." I'd love to win a copy. My email address is misfortuneofknowng at gmail.

  2. This sounds like a book I would like to read. I have seen some reviews for it around, and they are positive. Here's my email:
    Good luck to other entrants. Have a good day, Lindsey! Glad David enjoyed soccer camp.

  3. It sounds like a lovely read!

    Debnance at gmail dot com

  4. I like books about regular people with regular problems too. I feel like they're often the books which have the most realistic and relatable characters and can also have some great character growth.

  5. A story like this feels "personal" to me since it deals with those everyday problems we all face.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!