Paul Kalanithi was only 35 when he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. A neurosurgeon and aspiring author, he writes with heart-breaking clarity and emotion about his journey from the diagnosis of his illness to his tragic death at the age of 37.
It’s quite difficult reading this memoir in the beginning, knowing that the author will be dead by the end of it. But Kalanithi writes with such matter-of-factness about his situation, without self-pity or defeatism, that it is impossible not to continue on the journey with him.
As a doctor, Kalanithi speaks candidly about the medical realities of living with aggressive terminal cancer. As a husband, son, expectant father and friend, he offers a deeply affecting insight into what it means to face the loss of a future with loved ones.
It is impossible not to be moved by Paul’s story. It is remarkable and compassionate, both hopeful about life and resigned to the inevitability of death. The day I read the final chapter I was sitting in my favourite coffee shop, where a kind lady came over to see if I was ok after spotting me sobbing my eyes out. She was the first person I recommended this memoir to and she hasn’t been the last. Heartbreaking and uplifting, “When Breath Becomes Air” is a book that will stay with you.
[Editor’s Note: Another contributor has previously reviewed this book for the blog. You can read that here.]
You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.