Andrea Barrett

“An evocative panorama of America… on the cusp of enormous change.”

— Newsday

The Air We Breathe

A Novel

In the fall of 1916, America prepares for war — but in the community of Tamarack Lake, the focus is on the sick. Wealthy tubercular patients live in private cure cottages; charity patients, mainly immigrants, fill the large public sanatorium. Prisoners of routine, they take solace in gossip, rumor, and — sometimes — secret attachments. But when the well-meaning efforts of one enterprising patient lead to a tragic accident and a terrible betrayal, the war comes home, bringing with it a surge of anti-immigrant prejudice and vigilante sentiment.

Praise for The Air We Breathe

“Here [in The Air We Breathe], as in several of her other works of fiction, including the National Book Award – winning Ship Fever, Barrett enriches her story with science…In fact, her style, always stylish and exact, is at its most compelling when she’s describing her characters’ engagement in their scientific studies.”

The Atlantic

“Details of New York tenements and of the sanitarium’s régime are vivid and engrossing.”

Publishers Weekly

“Every page seems so vibrant, its people so alive…Majestic, breathtaking, thrilling.”

San Diego Union-Tribune

“Barrett’s powers of historical evocation, especially her knowledge of the scientific preoccupations of the time, are impressive.”

The New Yorker

“Barrett’s writing has a quality of reflective mildness, a restraint which some might call quiet…There is an elegance of tone, but an enormous amount happens. The Air We Breathe is turbulent and dramatic, full of longing and death and lust, the yearning to cover one’s own life and way in the world.”

Boston Globe