Gina’s Review: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

When Breath Becomes AirWhen Breath Becomes Air
written by Paul Kalanithi
published by Random House, 2016

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & NobleAmazoniBooks, Target, WalmartBook Depository, Goodreads

Did I enjoy this book: I loved this book. It was deep, and it was emotional but also beautiful. You know from reading the description that it won’t be a happy ending because Paul dies from cancer. The ending isn’t a secret, but how you get to the end is the journey. It’s what makes the book special.

Paul is a talented writer. You can tell that he loved to read and was influenced by some of the greatest writers. You can tell he was a deep person and took the time to think things through, and he had to be because he was also a neurosurgeon. I can’t imagine going through what Paul and his family went through, but the stories he tells about his life left me feeling emotional. Death, life, and faith have a relationship with one another. It’s not black and white–there are gray areas. He isn’t afraid to write about them, even if they are painful. He is thorough and thoughtful. I only wish he had time to write more books.

GOLDEN LINES

“Human knowledge is never contained in one person. It grows from the relationships we create between each other and the world, and still it is never complete.”

 


 

Would I recommend it: YES.

Gina

About the book – from Goodreads: For readers of Atul Gawande, Andrew Solomon, and Anne Lamott, a profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir by a young neurosurgeon faced with a terminal cancer diagnosis who attempts to answer the question What makes a life worth living? 
 
At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor making a living treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. Just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. When Breath Becomes Air, which features a Foreword by Dr. Abraham Verghese and an Epilogue by Kalanithi’s wife, Lucy, chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a naïve medical student “possessed,” as he wrote, “by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life” into a young neurosurgeon at Stanford, guiding patients toward a deeper understanding of death and illness, and finally into a patient and a new father to a baby girl, confronting his own mortality.

What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when the future, no longer a ladder toward your goals in life, flattens out into a perpetual present? What does it mean to have a child, to nurture a new life as another fades away? These are some of the questions Kalanithi wrestles with in this profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir.

Paul Kalanithi died in March 2015, while working on this book, yet his words live on as a guide and a gift to us all. “I began to realize that coming face to face with my own mortality, in a sense, had changed nothing and everything,” he wrote. “Seven words from Samuel Beckett began to repeat in my head: ‘I can’t go on. I’ll go on.’” When Breath Becomes Air is an unforgettable, life-affirming reflection on the challenge of facing mortality and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a gifted writer who became both.

 

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