Breathing for a Living: A Memoir
STAR RATING: 4/5
Cystic fibrosis is a relatively common genetic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system and reduces life expectancy. Although very much perceived as
a childhood disease, until recently many did not live into adult life, writes Anika Baddeley.
Laura Rothenberg was a young US woman with cystic fibrosis. Her book is part a coming-of-age story and part fly-on-the-wall documentary. She begins her narrative by confronting an emergence into adult life she never expected to have. It is overshadowed by the deterioration in physical health. The book focuses on the decision to have a
lung transplant, a procedure that if successful could extend her life and allow her a better quality of life.
It gives an insight into the physical, social and emotional experiences that arise when dealing with chronic illness. Exploring the experience of what it is like to live
your life in the shadow of death, while waiting for a transplant.
Although the book begins well, and is insightful, it is the result of a compilation of personal diary entries, e-mails and first hand narration. The result is a choppy style that goes backwards and forwards in time. It is also requires a knowledge of medical jargon.
This serves to detract from what is otherwise a shrewd exploration of the value of health and life and a brave memoir of a fight against a disease that eventually claimed
Laura at the age of 22.
Anika Baddeley is a sociologist and has cerebral palsy