Review: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

Won’t lie, parts of this short novel were a bit hard. My father died of cancer. Cancer that started in the lungs and metastasis to the brain. When I read Kalanithi’s words about fatalities of that type of brain cancer…well…it was a like a punch to my stomach.

I was a bit gobsmacked at times reading this. I mean, when we are talking about brain surgery a mm can mean life or death, functional or nonfunctional. I just can’t even imagine the skill it must take. I found most fascinating Kalanithi’s reasons for choosing this field. The concept of our minds and actions just being a byproduct of our brains…well, that might seem simple in concept but I still find the entire concept too all-encompassing to grasp.

I hate what happened to Kalanithi and his family. What they went through, I mean, how could anyone not? I would have loved to read a b by book by Kalanithi that wasn’t sure to end the way it did. I found his subject matter and how he discussed his cases and brain surgery fascinating. I wonder if he would have been a different type of writer had he not had cancer. Was his writing style and his reflections modified because of his diagnosis? Did his future make him more humane? Please, understand, I’m not trying to imply that he was anything but compassionate before…I…well…maybe I am kinda wondering if he was less compassionate before….not by a conscious meaning to be…but just by the circumstances of that type of work. Of any type of work really.

If any of us were to sit down and write about ourselves and our current path, wouldn’t it be different from the words we were to write if we knew our death was imminent.

I’m glad I read this book. It gave me so much to think about. It offered insights I’m not sure I’ve had before…but I would have loved to read a different type of book by Paul Kalanithi as well…for so many various reasons…

Until next time…
Urania xx

Review copy provided by Netgalley for an honest review

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

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