The Unwinding of the Miracle: A Memoir of Life, Death, and Everything That Comes After

Category: Book
By (author): Yip-Williams, Julie
Subject:  BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / General
  BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Medical
  BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Personal Memoirs
  FAMILY & RELATIONSHIPS / Death, Grief, Bereavement
Publisher: Random House
Published: February 2019
Format: Book-hardcover
Pages: 336
Size: 9.55in x 6.34in x 1.10in
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$ 36.75
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Additional Notes

From The Publisher*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.

"Everything worth understanding and holding on to is in this book."-Kelly Corrigan, New York Times bestselling author of The Middle Place and Tell Me More

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.

Advance praise for The Unwinding of the Miracle

"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 Maladies

"Julie Yip-Williams lived a life defined by effort and incredible self-reliance. But in this searing memoir of increasing vulnerability, she dismantles and then reconstructs what it means to be triumphant."-Lucy Kalanithi
Review Quote*"Everything worth understanding and holding on to is in this book. . . . A miracle indeed."-Kelly Corrigan, New York Times bestselling author of The Middle Place and Tell Me More

"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 Maladies

"Julie Yip-Williams lived a life defined by effort and incredible self-reliance. But in this searing memoir of increasing vulnerability, she dismantles and then reconstructs what it means to be triumphant. Her writing examines not only her disability and illness-and their cultural, medical, and narrative constructs-but love, authenticity, hope, egotism, even rage. I didn't know Julie, but in these pages, I grew to love her."-Lucy Kalanithi

"When talking to my patients, I have always struggled to find the perfect balance between hope and honesty. While they are often thought of as opposites, Julie Yip-Williams reminds us they can coexist in a beautiful and meaningful way. In The Unwinding of the Miracle, we are treated to a beautifully written story that is also at times brutally candid about the realities of her cancer diagnosis and treatment. It is increasingly rare to find such an authentic voice, one that will inform and inspire you."-Sanjay Gupta, M.D.

"[When] Yip-Williams was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer at the age of thirty-seven in 2013, she decided to write her story, which resulted in this inspiring and remarkable work that chronicles her immigration to the U.S. and her final five years. . . . [Her] wise and moving account of her battle with cancer is an extraordinary call to live wholeheartedly."-Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Biographical NoteJulie Yip-Williams died in March 2018 of colon cancer. She was born in Tam-Ky, Vietnam, just as the war was ending, grew up in Monterey Park, California, and graduated from Williams College and Harvard Law School. At her death she was forty-two, and lived in Brooklyn with her husband, Josh, and their daughters, Mia and Isabelle.