Thursday, June 9, 2016

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanathi - Book Review - A Heartbreaking Story of Love, Life, and Loss

I absolutely LOVED "When Breath Becomes Air" by Paul Kalanithi. The book is so beautifully written. I actually started out listening to this, and stopped by my library to pick up a physical copy because I felt like listening to it alone just wasn’t doing it justice - although for the record the audiobook readers do an excellent job!

"When Breath becomes Air" is as inspiring as it is devastating - it has now sat with me for over a week and I just can’t seem to take it back to the library.

The book begins with an excellent prologue written by an acquaintance of Dr. Kalanithi’s and the Epilogue written by Paul’s wife, Lucy, is an absolutely wonderful ending. The middle- well the middle is Dr. Kalanithi’s exploration of what makes life worth living. This book does explore the idea of death, but Paul explores his dying self by reviewing large chapters of his living self. It was exciting and incredibly interesting to hear about his childhood, medical school experiences, and his life as a husband and father.

It is delightful getting to know Paul- he truly seems seems like a wonderful person- intelligent, thoughtful, kind, caring- an excellent physician and surgeon. Someone who you would be lucky to have in your corner should you need a neurosurgeon. And as I read, I ached knowing how the story would ultimately end.

As a new mother myself, I was particularly moved by Paul and Lucy’s decision to have a child in the face of Paul’s ailing health. While Lucy expressed concern that a daughter might make Paul’s passing more difficult for him - he ultimately decided that that would in fact be a gift. That if having a child was such a rich and rewarding experience, that dying was that much more difficult to bear- then having a child was the right thing to do. He stood by his belief that the point of living is not to avoid suffering. How heatbreakingly beautiful is that?

If you have never read a book like this one before- i.e. a book that deals pretty heavily with death, dying, etc- I think this is a great one to start with. Or, if like me- you have fascination with this type of memoir, I definitely recommend that you add "When Breathe Becomes Air" to you #toberead list.

Have you read "When Breathe Becomes Air"- let me know what you thought below. What other non fiction memoirs have you enjoyed reading? Thinking about reading this book? Click the find at your library button or click below to find the book on Amazon.