The Unwinding of the Miracle: A Memoir of Life, Death, and Everything That Comes After
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • As a young mother facing a terminal diagnosis, Julie Yip-Williams began to write her story, a story like no other. What began as the chronicle of an imminent and early death became something much more—a powerful exhortation to the living. “An exquisitely moving portrait of the daily stuff of life.”—The
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • As a young mother facing a terminal diagnosis, Julie Yip-Williams began to write her story, a story like no other. What began as the chronicle of an imminent and early death became something much more—a powerful exhortation to the living.
“An exquisitely moving portrait of the daily stuff of life.”—The New York Times Book Review (Editors’ Choice)
That Julie Yip-Williams survived infancy was a miracle. Born blind in Vietnam, she narrowly escaped euthanasia at the hands of her grandmother, only to flee with her family the political upheaval of her country in the late 1970s. Loaded into a rickety boat with three hundred other refugees, Julie made it to Hong Kong and, ultimately, America, where a surgeon at UCLA gave her partial sight. She would go on to become a Harvard-educated lawyer, with a husband, a family, and a life she had once assumed would be impossible. Then, at age thirty-seven, with two little girls at home, Julie was diagnosed with terminal metastatic colon cancer, and a different journey began.
The Unwinding of the Miracle is the story of a vigorous life refracted through the prism of imminent death. When she was first diagnosed, Julie Yip-Williams sought clarity and guidance through the experience and, finding none, began to write her way through it—a chronicle that grew beyond her imagining. Motherhood, marriage, the immigrant experience, ambition, love, wanderlust, tennis, fortune-tellers, grief, reincarnation, jealousy, comfort, pain, the marvel of the body in full rebellion—this book is as sprawling and majestic as the life it records. It is inspiring and instructive, delightful and shattering. It is a book of indelible moments, seared deep—an incomparable guide to living vividly by facing hard truths consciously.
With humor, bracing honesty, and the cleansing power of well-deployed anger, Julie Yip-Williams set the stage for her lasting legacy and one final miracle: the story of her life.
Praise for The Unwinding of the Miracle
“Everything worth understanding and holding on to is in this book. . . . A miracle indeed.”—Kelly Corrigan, New York Times bestselling author
“A beautifully written, moving, and compassionate chronicle that deserves to be read and absorbed widely.”—Siddhartha Mukherjee, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Emperor of All MaladiesAn Amazon Best Book of February 2019: Julie Yip-Williams’ memoir speaks to one of our greatest fears, that we would be diagnosed with a terminal disease, and to our greatest hope, which is that we could face life straight on, fully, without squinting, and live each day with honesty, ambition, and true feeling. She was born ethnic Chinese in Vietnam. As a young child, she had cataracts that rendered her nearly blind—her grandmother felt she would be a burden to the family and tried to have an herbalist end her life. When the family fled for the U.S., she was able to get corrective eye surgery in California. Still, she was declared legally blind due to poor vision. She earned her way into Williams College, attended Harvard Law School, married, and settled in Brooklyn with her husband and two children. Then at 37, she was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer. For five years, she dealt with the disease, took care of her family, prepared them and herself for the future, and sought understanding by writing about it. There is hope, anger, fear, reflection, immersion in the everyday, and joy reflected in this book. The Unwinding of the Miracle seeks to express the truth about what it is like to face death–and to face life–and it succeeds masterfully. –Chris Schluep, Amazon Book Review