Laura Rothenberg

  (Redirected from Breathing for a Living)

Laura Elizabeth Rothenberg (February 3, 1981 - March 20, 2003) was an American author. She wrote a memoir describing her life with cystic fibrosis called Breathing for a Living.

Laura Rothenberg
Born(1981-02-03)February 3, 1981
DiedMarch 20, 2003(2003-03-20) (aged 22)
NationalityUnited States
Alma materBrown University
Notable work
Breathing for a Living
Home townNew York City


Laura Rothenberg was born February 3, 1981[1] and she grew up in New York City. Shortly after birth she was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, a fatal disease with varying life expectancy.[2] Goddaughter of Debra Winger,[3] Rothenberg attended The Chapin School[4] in Manhattan and then Brown University where she studied English until the deterioration of her cystic fibrosis forced her to withdraw and she decided to pursue a lung transplant, though it posed its own health risks.[4] She received a double lung transplant at age 20,[5] in July 2001.[1] In the spring of 2002, she returned to Brown where she took a course on autobiographical writing, beginning writing that formed the basis of her later memoir.[6] She also began recording audio of her experience when a radio producer, Joe Richman, lent her a tape recorder.[1] Rothenberg's audio diary, My So-Called Lungs: A Young Girl's Diary of Living with Dying from Cystic Fibrosis, aired on NPR on August 5, 2002.[5]

2003 cover of Rothenberg's memoir

Health again forced Rothenberg to withdraw from Brown in November 2002 and on March 20, 2003, she died of chronic rejection of the transplant.[7] Her memoir was published posthumously by Hyperion on May 12, 2003. Breathing for a Living describes her fight with cystic fibrosis and her decision to pursue a double lung transplant.[8] A starred review in Publishers Weekly said, "Refusing to indulge in even a wisp of false hope or consolation, Rothenberg reminds us that there is a power in us that is greater than even the greatest unforgettably real testament of the strength of one human spirit, and of our common human wish to know and say and be the truth.[8] In The Washington Post, Roland Merullo wrote, "Those in the grasp of a fatal illness will recognize themselves here -- the loneliness, the pain and hope -- as will family members and friends. The rest of us, so often oblivious to our good luck, might be moved to set the book down between chapters and put our complaints in perspective."[2]

List of worksEdit

  • "My So-Called Lungs", All Things Considered, NPR, August 5, 2002
  • Breathing for a Living, Hyperion, 2003 ISBN 1-4013-0059-6


  1. ^ a b c Harvey, Charlotte Bruce (July–August 2003). "I Might Not Be There". Brown Alumni Magazine. Retrieved 2019-05-09.
  2. ^ a b Merullo, Roland (July 6, 2003). "Brief Candle". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  3. ^ "'Breathing for a Living'". Retrieved 2019-05-08.
  4. ^ a b "The Amazing Life of Laura". Andrew Solomon. Retrieved 2019-05-08.
  5. ^ a b Rothenberg, Laura (August 5, 2002). "My So-Called Lungs". All Things Considered. National Public Radio (NPR).
  6. ^ Rothenberg, Jon (September–October 2003). "Mail Room". Brown Alumni Magazine. Retrieved 2019-05-09.
  7. ^ Vila, Vicki (2003-03-22). "No Headline". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-05-08.
  8. ^ a b "Nonfiction Book Review: BREATHING FOR A LIVING: A Memoir by Laura Rothenberg, Author . Hyperion $22.95 (237p) ISBN 978-1-4013-0059-3". Publishers Weekly. May 12, 2003. Retrieved 2019-05-08.

External linksEdit