Review of “When Breath Becomes Air” by Paul Kalanithi

When Breath Becomes AirMy rating: 4 of 5 stars

A beautifully-written memoir that reminds you that Life works in mysterious ways.
As a youngster, Paul Kalanithi wanted to become a writer to come to terms with ‘the life of the mind’. Above all he wanted to understand: What makes human life meaningful?
In the end he studied neuroscience, which ‘laid down the most elegant rules of the brain’. He studied hard and worked even harder to reach the pinnacle of his residency as a neurosurgeon. Then came the shocking news: a diagnosis of lung cancer. The young doctor was about to become a patient.
Kalanithi goes on to examine what it is like to face death at the age of just 35. He is optimistic and positive throughout, but sadly his life ends before the book is finished.
Medical friends of mine balked at reading this book as they thought it would cut too close to the bone. I agree. Although I don’t class myself as superstitious, a book like this reminds us of our mortality and the fact that we are all, at any time, just one footstep away from the grave.
That said, this is a story of hope and love. It is also gratifying to realise that this first-time author discovered, at least for himself, what made life meaningful.

View all my reviews

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About Debbie Terranova

Debbie Terranova is an Australian author of contemporary and historical fiction. 'The Scarlet Key' published in 2016 is the second Seth VerBeek mystery. The crime-busting reporter is back with a new cast of unforgettable characters and a new puzzle to solve. It's about live, love, death, and tattoos, with a touch of the mystical. 'Baby Farm', her debut novel, is a cozy crime mystery about forced adoptions of the 1970s, and a surrogacy and baby trafficking racket. It is the first of the Seth VerBeek series. Debbie Terranova is a prizewinning author of short stories: 'Mowbray Brothers' about growing up in East Brisbane in the 1920s; and 'Mischief' about reinventing yourself and in the process falling in love ... with an adorable but mischievous cat.
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