The Air We Breathe

Title: The Air We Breathe

Author: Andrea Barrett

Summary: While World War I looms in the future, the patients at Tamarack State Sanatorium are fighting their own battle with tuberculosis and the emotional issues that come from being confined to a strict regimen of rest and little social interaction.  Their insular world begins to expand, however, with the arrival of a somewhat mysterious young chemist from Odessa named Leo Marburg, and the pompous and wealthy Miles Fairchild, who is sure the less fortunate patients will benefit greatly from the wisdom he imparts through his weekly discussion groups. The lives of the patients become more entangled, and life at Tamarack gets complex and messy, bringing about the major disruption that the patients have both longed for and dreaded.  A final and unexpected tragedy will draw the group even closer together, although not to everyone’s benefit.

I’m a huge fan of historical fiction, and that’s mostly because of books like this.  Author Andrea Barrett has done a great job of describing a world we will never know, gently weaving in interesting lessons in both science and history.  She is the author of the National Book Award winner “Ship Fever,” Pulitzer Prize finalist “Servants of the Map,” as well as the fabulous “Voyage of the Narwhal.”
Recommended by: Mary, Reference Librarian

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