Wednesday, February 3, 2016

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

When Breath Becomes Air is a memoir about Paul's transition from being a doctor to being a patient after his diagnosis with terminal lung cancer.  This is a heartwarming story that will not only provide thought-provoking moments but also cause your emotions to swell.  It goes through his training as a neurosurgeon and the things he aspired to accomplish during his career, and then to his experiences through the cancer and how his viewpoint on life and it's meaning had changed.  Sadly Paul passed away before the book was finished and his wife Lucy added the final touches to the memoir, which adds a more personal and heartwarming touch to it.

This was a difficult book to read because my own personal battle with cancer, so my reaction to the book might be different than someone else's reaction.  Many of the things Paul talks about are things that I thought about and experienced during my treatments, so it brought back a lot of memories and made me reflect on my treatments.  But it also opened my eyes to what other people experience during this time of crisis, and how we all deal with crisis differently.  He talks a lot about what gives life meaning both as a doctor and as a patient.  Where does a person draw that line and decide life no longer has meaning?

Paul writes with an understanding that transcends anything any reader can hope to understand.   As you are reading the book you can almost feel as if you are hearing his voice as he discusses life as a neurosurgeon and then life as a cancer patient.  It is a story of a man trying to discover his identity when what he identified with was taken away.  There really are no words that would be able to do this memoir justice in describing it.  Heartwarming and thought provoking seem to fall drastically short.  I recommend this book to everyone whether or not you like memoirs, this is a book that needs to be read.  It will change your own viewpoint.  I give this a 5 out of 5 rating.

1 comment:

  1. Hello Jenn W,
    I just discovered your blog and read the two most recent reviews. I assume you to be an avid reader and quite experienced at writing the review. I get my books through the TalkingBook program via the National Library Service for the blind and also use a reading machine on occasion for print fiction. Suffice to say, I will be back to visit again soon!
    Kind Regards,
    David Russell