When Breath Becomes Air

Paul Kalanithi
Star Rating
Reviewer's Rating
Apr 12, 2016

How do I begin discussing this book? It’s breathtaking, painful, haunting, and beautiful all at the same time. Paul Kalanithi attended Stanford and Yale to become a doctor trained in neurological surgery and neuroscience, all in the hopes of gaining an understanding of death, and choosing a much more difficult path to be able to treat the dying. As he’s just beginning his career and getting incredible job offers throughout the country, he is diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer at thirty-six years of age. He then begins to process death in a much more personal way, switching from a lifesaving doctor to a patient with a very uncertain future. Instead of a stable career and future, he must begin facing sudden decisions such as whether or not to have children or continue his strenuous job.

Kalanithi faces his extremely grim prognosis with grace, and commits to writing a book about his journey. When Breath Becomes Air is a beautiful story of a man who could have contributed so much to the world in the fields of science and medicine, yet ended up making just as big a contribution by putting his story into words. The epilogue is written by his wife, summing up his journey through her eyes, and those of all he loved and affected along the way. This book will be one of my most highly recommended.  

Reviewed by Colleen O.
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