Anatomy of a Miracle
By: Jonathan Miles
Published March 13, 2018
From the Cover:
Rendered paraplegic after a traumatic event four years ago, Cameron Harris has been living his new existence alongside his sister, Tanya, in their battered Biloxi, Mississippi neighborhood where only half the houses made it through Katrina. One stiflingly hot August afternoon, as Cameron sits waiting for Tanya during their daily run to the Biz-E-Bee convenience store, he suddenly and inexplicably rises up and out of his wheelchair.
In the aftermath of this “miracle,” Cameron finds himself a celebrity at the center of a contentious debate about what’s taken place. And when scientists, journalists, and a Vatican investigator start digging, Cameron’s deepest secrets–the key to his injury, to his identity, and, in some eyes, to the nature of his recovery–become increasingly endangered. Was Cameron’s recovery a genuine miracle, or a medical breakthrough? And, finding himself transformed into a symbol, how can he hope to retain his humanity?
Brilliantly written as closely observed journalistic reportage and filtered through a wide lens that encompasses the vibrant characters affected by Cameron’s story, Anatomy of a Miracle will be read, championed, and celebrated as a powerful story of our time, and the work of a true literary master.
I initially decided to read this book because I’m kind of a medical nerd and the concept of a paraplegic “miraculously” walking again seemed intriguing. It was one of those books that I would see every time I went to the bookstore and I would end up carrying it with me for most of the time I would browse, before finally relinquishing it for a different book.
When I finally started to read it, I had a lot of expectations and a lot of questions. Miles’ writing style made me wonder whether he was writing fiction or nonfiction the entire time I was reading. Even after finishing the book, I am still unsure. I think what makes it seem so realistic is how the book is written. Miles writes with an almost journalistic style and he includes many details that are reflective of real events, people, places, and ideas.
Speaking of details… there are many in this book. I felt almost bogged-down by them as I was trudging my way through the middle of the book. There were multiple times when I glanced to see just how many pages were left. I think the book could have been condensed by at least 100 pages without losing the integrity of the story. Miles is very descriptive, which is good for the imagination but not for someone looking for a rapturous plot.
Overall, I enjoyed the story, I felt like the plot development made sense. The character development was good, however I kept finding myself wanting more reflection from the main characters: Tanya, Janice, Cam. My major complaint is that I felt like the best parts of the story were thrown together at the end. One of the major revelations was given with maybe 100 pages left and I wanted to see it develop further than what Miles offered.
If you’re looking for a realistic story of a man who walks again with all of the expected drama that would ensue–reality TV shows, medical skepticism, religious investigation, journalism heyday–this is the story. You’ll need some patience and some perseverance, but I think it might be worth it.
Miracle or not?? From the way the details were given to me, I feel like I am led to believe Cameron’s loss of paralysis was actually a miracle. I don’t know whether this is what Miles wants us readers to believe or not. Cameron himself is hardly a reliable narrator and there are holes in every posed medical or religious hypothesis. I think Miles wants us to examine more closely what brings people of radically different backgrounds and stories into each other’s lives. It is more a story about the interconnectedness of the human relation than it is anything else.