Almost Hits the Asymptote

BOOK REVIEW: “When Breath Becomes Air”

Dr. Paul Kalinithi

PAULThis moving story, posthumously published, was penned by a gifted man clearly determined to first, do every single thing well, and second, leave an eloquent mark behind when his life was cut short by cancer. Kalanithi was a brilliant neurosurgeon; his writing is equally compelling and often poetic. I confess I found the book structurally frustrating; after the drama of discovering his diagnosis, he then doubles back and spends the entire first half of the (too-short) book sharing his abbreviated life journey and back story. Necessary, perhaps, but I would have liked much more on his battle with lung cancer and his stirring spiritual insights. Kalanithi writes from a Christian perspective and even quotes C. S. Lewis, my favorite inspirational author, but some of his observations about faith and God are mind-bendingly deep. Still, what he shares is very moving, and his wife’s testimony finishes the book with bracing honesty. I’ll share one quote which I appreciate both as a math professor and a believer who has pondered what the Bible says about God’s high standard: “You can’t ever reach perfection, but you can believe in an asymptote toward which you are ceaselessly striving.”

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About David B. Smith

I'm a math professor at San Bernardino Valley College - awesome place! - and author of adult Christian fiction. Lisa and I have two grown daughters and four grandkids.
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