Review: When Breath Becomes Air

When Breath Becomes Air
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Oh this book! Read in a day. I’ve been wanting to read this since it came out and it wasn’t disappointing. I loved lots of things about it but in particular I loved the story of how Paul Kalanithi became a neurosurgeon, the pathway he took which led him to the realisation of where he felt his place in the world was. It is brutal and honest and tells how gruelling the days are for a surgeon, ten years training and still not there. He wrote this book as he lay dying of cancer and that really is the journey, he talks about his treatment, how he discovered he was sick and the various treatments he went through. You know that he does not survive but can’t help but admire his ways of dealing with his illness. I particularly liked the after story which is written by his wife, she fills in some of the gaps which I felt were missing as the story went along. At times the writing does feel a little cold, understandably as he was writing about the end of his life as it happened. There are some great passages in here and I’ll be sharing it with the staff at school in our bookclub. I didn’t find this as hard to read as I did Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture which had me weeping from almost the moment I started it. What I did love about this is the look at dying from the point of view of a man who has spent his working life telling other people that they have cancer, now being in the opposite position. There are wonderful literary quotes and it is certainly a great book. Quite a lot more religious than is to my taste but that was part of who this man was.

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