When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

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Originally published in: 2016

What it’s about: As a medical resident Kalanithi discovers he’s got terminal cancer, and details the decisions he makes as a result and all the thoughts that come with that diagnosis.

What made me pick it up: It was short. And I’d heard it was powerful.

My favorite things: This book is stunning. It will make your heart break into pieces. Every time I thought it was done I’d turn the page and get hit with another scene so heart-wrenching I could hardly bear it. But you do because the story is so gripping. Kalanithi writes as he’s dying – writes about medicine, which is his life’s passion; writes about his wife, who is his great love; writes about meaning. His writing was hard enough but the end was the even more difficult. The final third of the book isn’t written by him. It’s written by his wife, after he’s gone. The bittersweetness of it all will stay with you. This book will haunt you in the best way.

Who it’s great for: Teens. Adults. Anyone who has witnessed a family member slowly fade from terminal illness. Those who like happy/sad books.

Erica’s rating: five-shells

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