Anatomy of a Miracle: Book summary and reviews of Anatomy of a Miracle by Jonathan Miles

Anatomy of a Miracle

by Jonathan Miles

Anatomy of a Miracle by Jonathan Miles X
Anatomy of a Miracle by Jonathan Miles
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  • Published in USA  Mar 2018
    352 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

A profound new novel about a paralyzed young man's unexplainable recovery — a stunning exploration of faith, science, mystery, and the meaning of life.

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.

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Media Reviews

"It's impossible to judge the book as something more than an enjoyable performance without discussing that revelation, but also impossible to discuss the revelation without spoiling some of that enjoyment. This isn't an uncommon reviewer's dilemma, but in this case it's indicative of what makes Miles's work, for all of its pleasures, so frustrating. ... Perhaps Miles's strengths as a writer, his comic vision and his largeheartedness, make him unable to resist engineering a happy ending .... and a neatly satisfying one for the rest of us. That's his right, and plenty of readers will appreciate the impulse, but this one was disappointed to see such a copiously talented writer pulling his punch." - New York Times

"Part of why Anatomy feels so expansive is that Miles takes every opportunity to delve into the characters' backstories, each one practically a mini magazine profile that touches on the person's worldviews, formative experiences, and unresolved questions. But this keen interest in people is part and parcel of a book in which the author describes humans as "extraordinary" at least three times. In Miles's world, everyone — not just the people shouting the loudest on the internet — is worthy of attention." - LA Review of Books

"Cleverly shaped as a journalistic report and told in a style similar to that of Ron Currie and John Jeremiah Sullivan, Miles' tale offers a nuanced and endlessly entertaining exploration of the age-old debate between faith and reason." - Booklist

"Well-drawn characters and their witty repartee help to give the book's wild and wacky events a very human frame of reference." - Publishers Weekly

"With sincerity and wit, Miles pens a strong, sardonic rumination on the religious boundaries of the miraculous." - Library Journal

The information about Anatomy of a Miracle shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Reader Reviews

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Maggie R. (Canoga Park, CA)

A Pleasant Surprise
I wasn't sure what kind of book to expect. A novel of faith? A true story of the fallout of a claimed miracle? No pigeon hole for this one! The main characters seem unpleasant but steadily gain depth and meaning. Well told back stories move the reader out of the suffocating small town setting and set up what is ultimately an affecting love story. Jonathan Miles convinces that it is all true.

Janet R. retired high school English Lit teacher

What constituites a miracle?
Jonathan Miles' new novel, Anatomy of a Miracle is referenced by the author as both a true story and a novel. Fiction or non-fiction? Like most novels it is a blending of both what could have happened and what did actually happen. Miles' writing is dense and none of it is to be skipped or skimmed. He packs a powerful right hook at religion, science, the medical field, and humanity sparing none of them from his gentle humor and alternatingly scathing attacks. All the characters are expertly and roundly drawn so as to make them come-along-side acquaintances of the reader. At the end of the novel one is left with the question, what is a miracle? This book is a must read. Particularly compelling for me were the descriptions of life in a war zone. But then, the whole book is - metaphorically speaking - about a war zone.

Ashleigh S. (Council Bluffs, IA)

Anatomy of a Miracle
Anatomy of a Miracle by Jonathan Miles took me by surprise! An inexplicable medical event and its impact on all involved, including Cameron Harris, the main character, really demonstrated our human need for faith, understanding, and just how fickle the world can be! I could relate to each character and their experiences. Their interpretations of a "miracle" was a mixture of our different facets as people: hope, need, disbelief, and a strong desire to know our place in the world. Anatomy of a Miracle is a surprising novel, one that rattled around in my heart for days after putting it down. Cameron Harris and his miracle isn't the only miracle found in this novel. I highly recommend this novel; read it and feel your heart grow ten times in size.

Patricia E. (Sugarcreek, OH)

Miracle or Myth
As the title suggests, Anatomy of a Miracle centers on a modern-day miracle. The story is told from the viewpoint of the recipient of the miracle, Cameron, as well as his sister, doctor, neighbors and various people investigating the validity of the incident. While reading, I vacillated between belief and doubt. Although the miracle takes center stage, the author also examines family relationships and the way each of us defines love. That, I think, is the strength of the novel. The author's balance of humor and drama also contributes to the book's success. Whether you believe in miracles, want to believe in miracles or cheer for the miracle debunkers, this book is sure to please.

Becky S. (Springfield, MO)

I couldn't wait to get back to this book every time I had to put it down! The character development was so rich, the story line so unique, the way the author wrote with foreshadowing of the next events that kept you hanging on to every word.. the subject matter constantly making me question my own beliefs on so many topics.. religion in general, miracles, the hidden stories of ourselves that we carry. The relationship between siblings and the secrets they share. The hunger that lies inside of us to see a miracle... to believe that God really exists. The petty attraction to "reality tv"... wanting to watch someone's life played out, but also the novelty to be watched.. just a great novel that's billed as a "true story"... and very easily for me to believe as one! Just hated to see this one end... I will carry the characters with me for a long time! Would be a great book club discussion book.

Ruth H. (Sebring, FL)

Miracle? or Not?
Well written, eventful book that one can't possibly put down! I so admired Tanya for all she did for her brother Cameron. She took on a lot of responsibility through all the tragedies they endured. I truly believe miracles do come from God, for He loves all of His children, those who believe and those who do not. His loving hand is open for all who wish to touch Him, no matter what your differences. Be proud of who you are and what you have done. I think I can understand where Dr. Lorimar- Cuevas comes from, science and religion don't always mix well. Doctors think they can cure all, heal all, know all, but sometimes Doctors don't always have all the answers when such miracles do occur. So, I was quite shocked when Dr Lorimar-Cuevas came up with her own theory for Cameron's being able to suddenly walk. This book has many twists and turns, I highly recommend anyone to read it to get all the details.

...33 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Jonathan Miles Author Biography

Photo: Erica Larsen

Jonathan Miles is the author of the novels Dear American Airlines and Want Not, both New York Times Notable Books. His latest novel, Anatomy of a Miracle: The True* Story of a Paralyzed Veteran, a Mississippi Convenience Store, a Vatican Investigation, and the Spectacular Perils of Grace, is published by Crown/Hogarth.

Dear American Airlines was named a Best Book of 2008 by the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,, and others. It was also a finalist for the QPB New Voices Award, the Borders Original Voices Award, and the Great Lakes Book Award, and has been translated into six languages.

Want Not was named a best or favorite book of 2013 by Kirkus Reviews, the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Wall Street Journal,,, and ...

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