Book Review- When Breath Becomes Air

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When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
Published by Random House on January 19, 2016
Genres: Nonfiction, Memoir, Medical
Pages: 208
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Goodreads

At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor making a living treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. Just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. When Breath Becomes Air, which features a Foreword by Dr. Abraham Verghese and an Epilogue by Kalanithi’s wife, Lucy, chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a naïve medical student “possessed,” as he wrote, “by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life” into a young neurosurgeon at Stanford, guiding patients toward a deeper understanding of death and illness, and finally into a patient and a new father to a baby girl, confronting his own mortality.

What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when the future, no longer a ladder toward your goals in life, flattens out into a perpetual present? What does it mean to have a child, to nurture a new life as another fades away? These are some of the questions Kalanithi wrestles with in this profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir.

Paul Kalanithi died in March 2015, while working on this book, yet his words live on as a guide and a gift to us all. “I began to realize that coming face to face with my own mortality, in a sense, had changed nothing and everything,” he wrote. “Seven words from Samuel Beckett began to repeat in my head: ‘I can’t go on. I’ll go on.’” When Breath Becomes Air is an unforgettable, life-affirming reflection on the challenge of facing mortality and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a gifted writer who became both.

When Breath Becomes Air was a very deep and thought provoking book. I was drawn into the narrative from the first page. The language Kalanithi used was absolutely beautiful, and the book was easy and enjoyable to read (which is not something you can say about many books about cancer).

The book was divided into two parts; the first part was about Kalanithi’s life before his cancer diagnosis, and the second part was about his life afterwards. Both were equally as compelling, and both very interesting and emotional.

I would definitely recommend this book to everyone, just because of how moving of a book it is.

I am going to give When Breath Becomes Air four out of five hearts.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

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Book Review- Sicker

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Sick by Christa Wojciechowski
Published by Amazon Digital Services LLC on April 13, 2016
Genres: Psychological, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 82
Goodreads
Amazon

John Branch’s sickness has dominated the lives of all those around him, consuming all it can from well-intentioned doctors, compassionate strangers, and trusting loved ones. His chronic illness also bonds him intimately to his wife Susan, trapping them in relationship of unhealthy psychological attachment.

But John’s disease isn’t the only blight in the Branch family.

Injured and loaded with Demerol, John Branch tells his life story from his filthy sickbed, confessing the horrific secrets of the past. Most disturbing of all, he reveals the philosophy he’s constructed around his condition and tries to indoctrinate Susan.

Will she stay with him now that she finally knows the truth, or will she put an end to the madness?

Sicker was disturbing in the best way possible. The story picks up where the first novella, Sick, left off. In Sicker, instead of Suze narrating the story, her husband John takes over and I get to see the world through his eyes.

Most of the book is used to tell John’s story, explaining why he is the way he is. The story was compelling and heartbreaking. I found myself sympathizing with him, which is something I didn’t expect. Even more surprising, I found myself physically flinching every time he was hurt. I could clearly imagine it happening, which always makes for a better reading experience.

I really liked how in depth Sicker went into the human desire to be loved and cared for. It made something I never thought I would relate to, well, relatable. Much to my own horror (again, in the best way possible), I could see the reasoning behind John’s sickness.

The actual time elapsed in the book is hours at most. John spends the time explaining his past to Suze and convincing her to be okay with his sickness. I am very interested to see what happens next, and I can’t wait for the final novella, Sickest, to come out!

I am going to give Sicker four out of five hearts.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

* I was given this book for free by the author in exchange for an honest review. This has not in any way impacted my views or opinions of the book.

 

Book Review- Sick

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Sick by Christa Wojciechowski
Published by Amazon Digital Services, Inc. on October 1, 2015
Genres: Psychological, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 70
Goodreads
Amazon

Everyone has a breaking point. Is this marriage based on unconditional love or an unhealthy obsession?

Susan Branch’s life revolves around the care of her charming and inscrutable husband John, a man born into wealth and prestige who lost his family’s fortune when his mysterious chronic illnesses left him bedridden. Together they live a decrepit existence beholden to the current owners of his family’s former estate.
After years of devoting herself to John’s care, Susan is worn out and frustrated. Yet she is determined to scrape together whatever resources she can to keep John comfortable and happy. This includes stealing Demerol from the doctor’s office where she works to feed John’s ever-increasing need for pain medication.

As John’s condition continues to puzzle doctors, Susan begins to notice strange objects appearing around her house. Ever wary of creepy Old Pete, the groundskeeper, Susan decides to confront the elderly man and put an end to his snooping for good.
John suffers a critical emergency, but he is saved and is soon released from the hospital. His health begins to improve, and Susan dreams of a normal life, but her hope for a miracle transforms into a nightmare one fateful afternoon when she discovers the true cause of John’s sickness.

Sick was, well, sick… for lack of a better word. The beginning was slow; I was introduced to Suze, John, their current living conditions, and how they got there. It was interesting, and more than a little strange. I wasn’t sure if I should sympathize with Suze or pity her.

As the story went on it became more and more compelling. The story really was quite short, so it didn’t take long to read. Even so, I found my reading speed quickening as I got further and further into the plot. I knew something was very strange, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it until the big reveal at the end. Then everything clicked into place.

I really enjoyed the ending of Sick. All the pent up frustration and mystery came to a (pretty epic) conclusion. It ended the novella so perfectly.

Sick is one of the more mature book I have read, but not in an overly obvious way. It was rather low key, and that made it all the more enjoyable to read. Nothing was overly sexualized, yet there was an undertone of love that was both disturbing and beautiful at the same time.

I didn’t really enjoy the first half of the novella, just because of how slow the pace was ad how much information I had to absorb in such a short amount of pages. Even so, I am looking forward to reading the sequel, Sicker.

I am going to give sick three out of five hearts.

♥ ♥ ♥

*This book was given to me for free in exchange for an honest review. This has not in any way influenced my opinion of the book.