Monday, August 28, 2017

Review: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

Title: When Breath Becomes Air
Author: Paul Kalanithi
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Random House
Publish Date: January 12, 2016
Source: Library

What's the Story?:

From "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 na├»ve 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."

My Two Cents:

"When Breath Becomes Air" is the incredibly powerful story of a neurosurgeon who is suddenly confronted with his own mortality when he suddenly is diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer. He is just finishing his training as a neurosurgeon and is ready to dedicate a full career to saving other people's lives when he realizes that the dream he once had might be gone.

Death is scary. As humans, it is something that is inevitable for us. It is something that we have to face. This book is a rumination on what it means to live and what it means to die. How do you make the best of the time that you have when that time is something that you can't foretell. The way that Kalanithi writes is so raw, real, and beautiful. He pours out emotion into this book and turns it into something incredibly affecting.

This is an incredibly vivid book that really touched me. Kalanithi is looking at death before he really feels that he has reached his full potential or has lived a full life. While it is quite possible that all of us could be confronted by having our time cut too short for our preferences, we hope for the best and that we can have a full life to the point that satisfies us individually. Kalanithi shows us how to confront that finite amount of time with power and strength.



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