Sunday, September 4, 2016

Book Review: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

When Dr. Paul Kalanithi was still a college student, he was somewhat torn. He did want to be a doctor, but he also loved literature. He got a Master's in English before he did go. But when he went, he decided to specialize in neurology, the most difficult specialty with the most heartbreaking results. But he always wanted to write, like his idol, Abraham Verghese. He just always figured he'd have more time.

When he was nearly done with his residency, he started to suddenly feel debilitatingly tired. And had some other symptoms. As a doctor, he and his wife (also a med student) knew from the symptoms that they pointed to cancer. And it turned out to be stage 4 lung cancer (no, they never mention that he smoked. Although he never specifically says he doesn't either.) Within a week, he is unable to do surgery. He and his wife, Lucy, who were struggling with their marriage just a week before, are determined to fight, but they also know the odds.

This book is beautiful, stunningly written, with amazing attention to the detail of emotion and the beauty within tragedy. That said, it's also short, it skips over some things (such as the aforementioned question of smoking), and it skips over how their marriage was just fixed overnight  after the diagnosis. That said, it was a great and sad story. It didn't affect me as much as some (maybe because I read so many memoirs, I'm more immune.) But it was a great, and greatly sad story.

I got this book out of the library on my cruise ship, Oceania Regatta.

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