Book Review: Breaking and Mending – Joanna Cannon

Welcome back!

I have been so excited for Joanna’s new book, Breaking and Mending, that when it arrived on my Kindle yesterday morning, I did the sensible thing and read it in two sittings. And then I was disappointed cos I couldn’t read it anymore. Oh well, it may be done but I think it’s safe to say that’s a sign of a good book. On to the review…

Author(s): Joanna Cannon
Publisher: Profile Books
Publication date: Out now


‘A few years ago, I found myself in A&E.

I had never felt so ill. I was mentally and physically broken. So fractured, I hadn’t eaten properly or slept well, or even changed my expression for months. I sat in a cubicle, behind paper-thin curtains and I shook with the effort of not crying. I was an inch away from defeat… but I knew I had to carry on.

Because I wasn’t the patient. I was the doctor.’

In this powerful memoir, Joanna Cannon tells her story as a junior doctor in visceral, heart-rending snapshots.

Taken from Breaking and Mending


I love a good memoir. Cannon’s memoir is not just good. It’s astounding. I read it over a couple of hours and would’ve been more than happy if it’d been 100 pages longer.

Cannon describes her experience of deciding to return to study as a mature student, not to do just any degree, but to become a medical doctor. A huge, enduring task which I, personally, wouldn’t ever entertain.

Cannon’s recollection of her studies and years as a junior doctor are as heartbreaking as they are candid. She is honest about her views which have changed over time and the impact doctors have on their patients, medically and physically. Moreover, she is in no way melodramatic or self-interested – she writes how I think her to be – introspective and wise.

This book means a lot at any time, but in a world where the NHS is being degraded and so many people are suffering burnout, it serves as a stark reminder that we must be compassionate – towards others, but also towards ourselves.

Everyone has a book or two which stays with them. This will be one of those books for me; it’s up there with my other favourite medical memoirs (of which I’ve read many!) – I’ve no doubt I’ll be returning to it in the future.

You’ll like this book if you enjoyed:

When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi
This is going to Hurt – Adam Kay
Being Mortal – Atul Gawande
Unnatural Causes – Richard Shepherd
War Doctor – David Nott

I purchased this book myself and was not asked to review it.

Order now

You can support your local bookshop by buying Breaking and Mending through them directly, or via Hive.

Comment below

What do you think of Breaking and Mending? Will you be reading it? Let me know in the comments below.

Wishing you a wonderfully bookish week,


4 thoughts on “Book Review: Breaking and Mending – Joanna Cannon

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