Angele's Reviews > The Air We Breathe

The Air We Breathe by Andrea Barrett
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Feb 19, 09

Read in February, 2009

Barrett brings her skill in mixing science with human history to this novel set in a tuberculosis sanitarium in New York's Adirondack Mountains in 1916. Human progress and human folly march side-by-side, like the WWI soldiers doomed by mustard gas and machine-gun fire. At Tamarack State, tubercular patients can see detailed X-rays of their damaged lungs--but in the absence of antibiotics, must rely for a "cure" on isolation, rest, fresh air, bland food, and cheerful thoughts. Cheerful thoughts are hard to maintain in a death-haunted utopia further strained by the divisions between rich and poor, native-born and immigrant, radical and conservative--as well as by passionate loves and hatreds. Fans of Barrett's Ship Fever will be interested to learn the fates of Nora and Ned Kynd of "Ship Fever," as well as the background of Leo Marburg, grandfather of Rose and Bianca Marburg of "The Marburg Sisters."
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