My 4* review:
‘I first heard about When Breath Becomes Air when I was browsing in Waterstones. I read the blurb and thought that I needed to read this book, I rarely read true stories but this book almost seemed to be calling to me. I went home and looked online, the book had just been released and had some great reviews already. I really wanted to read this book.
The book is split into two main chapters, two very long chapters. The first focused on Paul’s life before diagnosis, his education and reasons for going into medicine and neurology. According to my Kindle the first chapter took just over an hour to read, and there were very few pauses or breaks in the chapter. I’m a fan of short chapters so this was very strange for me, and I’m someone who hates stopping reading anywhere other than at the end of a chapter, but this wasn’t possible with this book. The second chapter is slightly shorter and focuses on what happened after diagnosis.
What could be a very sad and depressing read is actually quite an inspiring and thought provoking book. Paul describes his thought processes well and spends quite some time in Chapter 1 talking about his beliefs and what drove him to become an exceedingly good neurologist. Chapter 2 talks about life after diagnosis, about what Paul had hoped to achieve in his life, and reflection on what he had and had not managed to do. He fought a brave battle and I think that many of us would hope that we would be able to face death with such aplomb.
The book ends with a short chapter by Paul’s wife, finishing the book that Paul was unable to. Her strength also inspires.
I’m left with a lot to think about, this book came at an interesting time for myself and this no doubt added a great deal to my experience of reading When Breath Becomes Air. I also can’t help but think about why these things happen, why a neurologist gets cancer in his brain of all places. I know of other similar instances, like an ophthalmologist with a benign brain tumour that will cause gradual blindness as it grows. This book has definitely left me with a lot to think about and ponder.
Thank you to the publishers and Netgalley for the chance to read and review When Breath Becomes Air.’
Watch the trailer for When Breath Becomes Air here.