The Unwinding of the Miracle
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.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.

The Unwinding of the Miracle Details

TitleThe Unwinding of the Miracle
Author
ReleaseJan 8th, 2019
PublisherRandom House
ISBN-139780525511359
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir, Biography, Biography Memoir, Medical

The Unwinding of the Miracle Review

  • Louise Wilson
    January 1, 1970
    Julie Yip-Williams was just thirty seven years old when she was diagnosed with colon cancer. Married, with two young daughters and with a career in law, she spent five years coming to terms and knowing that eventually her illness would lead to her death. Yes, its the circle of life that we all revolve around, but no one expects or wants to die that young! Julie's parents lived in Communist Vietnam. When Julie was born, she had cataracts and her grandmother begged Julie's parents to take her to a Julie Yip-Williams was just thirty seven years old when she was diagnosed with colon cancer. Married, with two young daughters and with a career in law, she spent five years coming to terms and knowing that eventually her illness would lead to her death. Yes, its the circle of life that we all revolve around, but no one expects or wants to die that young! Julie's parents lived in Communist Vietnam. When Julie was born, she had cataracts and her grandmother begged Julie's parents to take her to a herbalist, to get a tonic that would male Julie die. Her grandmother believed that Julie's survival would only be a burden to the family. The family escape to America where Julie receives the medical treatment for her eyes. She was declared legally blind due to her poor vision. But being blind did not hold Julie back. This is an open and honest memoir that will resonate with many readers.I would like to thank NetGalley, Random House UK, Transworld Publishers and the author Julie Yip-Williams for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Stephanie Borders
    January 1, 1970
    Julie Yip-Williams was only 37 when she was diagnosed with the colon cancer that would eventually kill her. Married, with a burgeoning law career and two young daughters, Yip-Williams spent the next five years coming to terms with what death means. Her goal was to embrace the inevitable. She knew her disease would kill her, sooner rather than later. She was heartsick at the thought of leaving her two young daughters motherless. At the same time, death is the ending that we all must face, and Yip Julie Yip-Williams was only 37 when she was diagnosed with the colon cancer that would eventually kill her. Married, with a burgeoning law career and two young daughters, Yip-Williams spent the next five years coming to terms with what death means. Her goal was to embrace the inevitable. She knew her disease would kill her, sooner rather than later. She was heartsick at the thought of leaving her two young daughters motherless. At the same time, death is the ending that we all must face, and Yip-Williams wanted to stare death down with bravery and respect."To the degree that my book speaks truth about not just the cancer experience but the human experience in general, I want people to be able to find themselves in the writing. And in doing so, I want them to realize that they have never been alone in their suffering . . . I want them to find within the rich, twisted, and convoluted details of my life truth and wisdom that will bolster and comfort them through their joys and sorrow, laughter and tears."I definitely saw myself in Julie. 35, with two young daughters as well, my biggest fear has always been to die when they still need me. I could relate to Julie's belief that no one can love them or parent them in the way that I do. It's a tragic scenario. In that, I was inspired by the way Julie handled death. She saw it coming for her, and she surrendered on her own terms, in the best way she could. She was thoughtful of every aspect of her death, and thoughtful of those she loved most. She was honest about the good things that arose from her diagnosis, but didn't shy away from the many, overwhelming negative aspects of her cancer. I rarely keep books I've already read, and in this instance my copy is an ebook, but this is one of those books that demands a spot on your shelf. I plan on purchasing a copy for myself. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for allowing me the opportunity to read and review this book.
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  • erica
    January 1, 1970
    In the vein of Until I Say Goodbye: A Book about Living, When Breath Becomes Air, and The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying, The Unwinding of the Miracle is a memoir about death and dying but that is ultimately, triumphantly, about life and living. I have lived even as I am dying, and therein lies a certain beauty and wonder. As it turned out, I have spent these years unwinding the miracle that has been my life, but on my terms. Julie Yip-Williams was in her mid thirties when she was dia In the vein of Until I Say Goodbye: A Book about Living, When Breath Becomes Air, and The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying, The Unwinding of the Miracle is a memoir about death and dying but that is ultimately, triumphantly, about life and living. I have lived even as I am dying, and therein lies a certain beauty and wonder. As it turned out, I have spent these years unwinding the miracle that has been my life, but on my terms. Julie Yip-Williams was in her mid thirties when she was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer. The diagnosis came out of nowhere: Julie was healthy and in the best shape of her life. What started out as a stomach ache or bout with flu abruptly resulted in a life-changing declaration: you have cancer. Julie is devastated, not only that she might die at a tragically young age, but at the thought that she might leave her two young daughters to grow into womanhood without a mother and leave her husband without a wife and partner.Julie is also resilient. She remembers her early life and muses that she should never have survived childhood. Born with cataracts in Communist Vietnam, Julie’s grandmother urged Julie’s parents to take baby Julie to a herbalist to obtain something to make the baby go to sleep and never wake up. It was better to be dead than to live with blindness. Grandmother feared that should Julie live, she would become a shameful burden to her family. Miraculously, Julie lived, and not long thereafter immigrated to American with her family, where she eventually received medical attention, but far too late, and as a result is legally blind.Julie’s life story is incredible. Her blindness caused her to feel anger at times, of course, but she ultimately prevailed. The rage at the unfairness of it all drove her toward success. She traveled the world, graduated from Harvard Law School, practiced law at a firm in New York City, married the love of her life, and raised two beautiful daughters.The cancer diagnosis changed everything for Julie. She asks her readers how it is possible to survive almost being killed by her family as a baby, only to be diagnosed with cancer thirty years later? She confronts her anger and depression and is able to embrace a positive attitude, but remains skeptical of “hope,” and the crushing sadness never truly leaves. This book is raw and personal; it is literally Julie’s diary entries and blog posts. As a writer, she is absolutely honest – not overly cheery or optimistic, Julie has a positive outlook some days, but is overwhelmed by depression on other days. She takes us to the doctor, to chemo, and to her daughters’ school events. It’s jarring to read the sections recounting her medical experience with the passages chronicling the mundane details of daily life. The juxtaposition of these passages is shocking.I recommend this book to everyone, not just to those with cancer or those who have a close family member with cancer. I’ve read quite a few books about being diagnosed with and living with cancer, but The Unwinding of the Miracle is undoubtedly one of the best I have read (if you enjoy this book, I recommend reading Memoir of a Debulked Woman: Enduring Ovarian Cancer next). Julie’s honestly is heartbreaking. It undid me: at times her writing is so raw and personal that it felt like an invasion of privacy to read. She captures the wide range of sometimes contradictory emotions that accompany a cancer diagnosis, and the challenges of retaining an identity as a mother and wife after receiving the new identity of a cancer patient. I tore through this book in only a few sittings, and by the end I was sobbing. This is the kind of book that can change your life. I really mean that. This is so much more than a book about cancer. It’s a book about love, family, motherhood, hope, and living with joy. And for any who might be reading this: I am grateful to have had you here, on this journey. I would presume to encourage you to to relish your time, to not be disabled by trials or numbed by routine, to say yes as much as you can, and to mock the probabilities. Luxuriate in your sons and daughters, husbands and wives. And live, friends. Just live. Travel. Get some stamps in those passports. My only criticism (and I’m not even deducting a star; this book is THAT good) is that a little more editing is needed. Some of Julie’s stories were told over and over again (especially the stories from her early childhood), and the book could do without all that repetition. There was also an entire chapter about Roger Federer that seemed completely out of place and should probably be taken out of the book entirely. These problems are completely fixable, and I hope the manuscript is edited down a bit before being published later this year. After all, I did only read a review copy. I realize that this book is the product of Julie’s diary entries, which are intensely personal. Julie was writing for herself, and I can imagine the comfort she would feel writing about her childhood, her parents, and her daughters. These passages are invaluable, but they can weigh the reader down.Julie died in April 2018, about a year before the book will be published. She was 42. Obviously, I never met Julie, but her words have touched me and brought me great comfort, and I wish I could tell her husband and her daughters how much her words meant to me.Julie’s husband says it best in the Epilogue: But that – cancer kills – is hardly a revelation. The revelation would come in how Julie responded to her fate. For the little girl born blind, she saw more clearly than any of us. In facing the hard truth of her inevitability, and never averting her gaze or seeking refuge in fantasy, she turned her life into a lesson for us all in how to live fully, vividly, honestly.…In our life together I learned so many lessons from her, but none more so than this: it is in the acceptance of truth that real wisdom and peace come. It is in the acceptance of truth that real living begins. Conversely, avoidance of truth is the denial of life. Come to my blog!
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  • Liz
    January 1, 1970
    Heartbreaking doesn't begin to describe the emotional territory navigated in this memoir of the life, illness and death of a vibrant young mother stricken with metastatic colon cancer at the age of 37. The miracle of the title refers to the author's survival and good fortune against all odds, as a baby born blind in Vietnam in the late 1970s, a country impoverished and in disarray. Escape to America, topnotch medical attention, and an Ivy League education furthered her miraculous life trajectory Heartbreaking doesn't begin to describe the emotional territory navigated in this memoir of the life, illness and death of a vibrant young mother stricken with metastatic colon cancer at the age of 37. The miracle of the title refers to the author's survival and good fortune against all odds, as a baby born blind in Vietnam in the late 1970s, a country impoverished and in disarray. Escape to America, topnotch medical attention, and an Ivy League education furthered her miraculous life trajectory. A high-power legal career, love and motherhood completed the perfect picture. But too soon the unwinding began. How can an intense, take-charge person deal with the loss of control imposed by incurable illness? How might a philosophical, articulate woman ponder the possibility of dying? How should a "tiger mom" prepare her young daughters for a future that most likely will not include her? Julie Yip-Williams became a blogger. Her blog evolved into a book that brings her vividly and lastingly to life. In it she recounts, with unflinching honesty and in great detail, the course of her illness. As she faced each challenge, I found myself examining my own life, my strengths and weaknesses, and my own beliefs about life and death. A well-written and extraordinarily moving memoir by a talented and courageous writer, this is a book and an individual I know I won't forget.  Highly recommended.I received a free advance copy of this book from Netgalley.
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  • Shirley Freeman
    January 1, 1970
    I loved this beautiful and compelling memoir of living with and dying from colon cancer. Julie Yip-Williams packed a lot of living into her too-short life. She didn't mince words when writing about the awful stuff of cancer but she also wrote with eyes wide open about life, relationships, and deep, abiding love.
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  • Stephanie Jane (Literary Flits)
    January 1, 1970
    See more of my book reviews on my blog, Literary FlitsMy Mum died from lung cancer in 2013. The first we knew that she had the disease was the diagnosis of a brain tumour about a year and a half before. Mum was a keen reader, which is no doubt where I get my bookworm tendencies from, and the particular cruelty of her cancer was that it destroyed her language capability early on. Mum could imagine what she wanted to say to us, but the words she spoke came out so wrong that we couldn't understand See more of my book reviews on my blog, Literary FlitsMy Mum died from lung cancer in 2013. The first we knew that she had the disease was the diagnosis of a brain tumour about a year and a half before. Mum was a keen reader, which is no doubt where I get my bookworm tendencies from, and the particular cruelty of her cancer was that it destroyed her language capability early on. Mum could imagine what she wanted to say to us, but the words she spoke came out so wrong that we couldn't understand her. We could see when she was in pain or tired, but we never really knew how Mum felt. Reading Julie's memoir now has helped me to envisage elements that might also have been part of my Mum's experience. Admittedly Julie's daughters were thirty years younger than Mum's, but I am sure that her fierce love and dedication to us were just the same.The Unwinding Of The Miracle starts with the shocking statement that if someone is reading Julie's words then she must be dead. This memoir was never intended to be published as such while she was alive. That sharply focused my mind on what was to come and this is almost completely a memoir about cancer - fighting it, coping with its effects, and coming to terms with its aftermath. Surprisingly, it is not a depressing read. There is sadness, of course, and extreme anger and a myriad of other emotions, but there is also a very real sense of the need to make the most of every moment. Julie and her family savour little happinesses in a way that those of us not faced with a terminal diagnosis might often overlook. It's a habit that we shouldn't need to be reminded to practice, but is one that becomes swamped with everyday minutiae. For Julie, her surviving a harrowing boat journey from Vietnam to Hong Kong was a miracle; as was the fact that she wasn't euthanised at two months old due to her blindness; as was the sparking of new life at her conception. Julie wasn't religious in the sense of any particular tradition, but she fervently believed that every life is miraculous and I think her encouragement for each one of us to seize that for ourselves is the strongest idea I shall retain from reading her inspirational memoir.
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  • Lee Husemann
    January 1, 1970
    Julie Yip-Williams was a 37-year-old with a successful career as a lawyer, married and the mother of two small daughters when she was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer. She was born in View Nam to Chinese parents after the war ended. She was born with congenital cataracts and her grandmother wanted the parents to take her to an herbalist for something to make her go to sleep permanently. Luckily, the herbalist said no. They escaped by boat and came to America where Julie had surgery for her c Julie Yip-Williams was a 37-year-old with a successful career as a lawyer, married and the mother of two small daughters when she was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer. She was born in View Nam to Chinese parents after the war ended. She was born with congenital cataracts and her grandmother wanted the parents to take her to an herbalist for something to make her go to sleep permanently. Luckily, the herbalist said no. They escaped by boat and came to America where Julie had surgery for her cataracts but was declared legally blind due to very poor vision. This did not keep her from being a top student and finding love, marriage and motherhood. This book chronicles her struggles with the cancer diagnosis, multiple surgeries, treatments including chemotherapy and radiation, alternative treatments, setbacks and trying to take care of her family. Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read this very sad and inspiring book.
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  • Kirsten
    January 1, 1970
    Julie was a friend of a friend; I never met her.This is dark and intense. I had to read it in little chunks, so I wouldn’t get overwhelmed. I especially liked her attacks on what she called the “hope industrial complex.” I so admire her honesty, even when it gets dark and brutal. She must have been really amazing.
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  • Annabel Pizzata
    January 1, 1970
    This book reminded me a lot of When Breath Becomes Air, which is unsurprising given they are both written by authors with terminal cancer diagnoses and published posthumously. What is surprising is how i failed to connect with this book when i did with When Breath Becomes Air. By all accounts, i should have, given the author and i both have law degrees, and two young daughters. I think perhaps i would have connected more had a heavier hand been applied to the editing, it jumps around a lot, with This book reminded me a lot of When Breath Becomes Air, which is unsurprising given they are both written by authors with terminal cancer diagnoses and published posthumously. What is surprising is how i failed to connect with this book when i did with When Breath Becomes Air. By all accounts, i should have, given the author and i both have law degrees, and two young daughters. I think perhaps i would have connected more had a heavier hand been applied to the editing, it jumps around a lot, with diagnosis not even being dealt with first up. The letters to her daughters and husband could have been grouped together for greater impact, too. I understand appealing to the reader was not the point of the book, but rather as a record for her family, but it is intended for publication to the wider world, after all.I did deeply appreciate the honesty that Julie wrote with though, and her sharing of her journey is exceptionally generous. My favourite passage which exemplifies this is as follows:'I vowed when i started writing my way through this calamity that I would endeavor to be honest about who i am and what it is for me to battle cancer, that i would strive against my very human egoist tendencies to prop up some persona of myself as perpetually inspiring, strong, or wise. Why was this so important to me? In part, because if this writing were to become the principal means by which my children would come to know my innermost thoughts and feelings after my death, I wanted them to see my real self, a self that, in addition to experiencing many moments of joy, gratitude, and insight, was often tormented by fear, anger, hurt, despair, and darkness. I also made that promise because i disliked tremendously those bloggers who always presented in the face of a life-threatening illness images of pumped fists and unending positivity and determination. To me, such portrayals were disingenuous, an insult to the intelligence of readers, and above all, disorienting and potentially harmful for those like myself who were newly diagnosed and felt more darkness than light. I wanted to detail and explore that darkness, to let others out there who i knew experienced a similar desolation and lonely darkness know that they were not and are not alone. There is a natural, intuitive fear of darkness; people who are gripped by it are ashamed to speak of it, while those who are free of it for however long wish to run from it as if it were a contagious plague. If the cost of my brutal honesty about my darkness is a highly unflattering picture of me that repels, so be it.'Vale, Julie Yip-Williams. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.
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  • Shannon Wise
    January 1, 1970
    Julie Yip-Williams should not have been alive at age 37, when she was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer. She was born to Chinese parents in Viet Nam, right after the end of the war. She had cataracts that could not be surgically corrected in Viet Nam. Her paternal grandmother sent her parents to Da Nag, to a medicine man, to have Julie killed. The medicine man refused to do it. She ended up immigrating to the United States, where her vision was partially fixed at age 4.Despite her visual limi Julie Yip-Williams should not have been alive at age 37, when she was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer. She was born to Chinese parents in Viet Nam, right after the end of the war. She had cataracts that could not be surgically corrected in Viet Nam. Her paternal grandmother sent her parents to Da Nag, to a medicine man, to have Julie killed. The medicine man refused to do it. She ended up immigrating to the United States, where her vision was partially fixed at age 4.Despite her visual limitations, she attended two prestigious colleges (Williams and Harvard). She became a lawyer, world traveler, and eventually met the man of her dreams and settled down with him in New York City, where they were raising their two young daughters.Julie started writing her book after she was diagnosed. It details her four year battle with cancer. However, this is not just another "I'm-dying-young" memoir. This book goes so much deeper than that. This book is a brutally honest exploration of all the feelings that comes along with such a horrible diagnosis. Julie is unsparing in her writings. She doesn't deny the anger, depression, and denial she had to fight, along with the disease. She openly discusses everything she feels. She talks openly about how hard it was for her and her family to deal with her diagnosis.What I appreciated most about this book was her willingness to include the things that made her look bad - the mean thoughts, the crying, the anger. She is raw and honest. I appreciated that. The only thing I took a bit of an issue with is that she and her husband are wealthy. They are both attorneys, working at one of the biggest law firms in the country. They can afford to buy their neighbor's apartment and turn it into one big one. They travel to exotic places. She contemplates spending $7,000 a month on an experimental drug, saying she can comfortably do that for a couple of months. While I don't begrudge her the wealth she has worked so hard for, it skews the nature of her treatment. If she didn't have the access to good health insurance, and enough money to afford a very expensive chemo drug, things would have been quite different for her. But I have to keep in mind that this book is about her journey through cancer, not anyone else's. And she is writing about her circumstances.I was so sad to learn that she died in March of this year. She was an amazingly talented writer and this book was a gut punch, but also a joy to read. She used her life as an example of what you can do when you are real. She talks about a lot of cancer support groups and blogs and websites where people put up false hope and false faces of happiness and denial because that is what this society expects from people suffering from terminal illness. I loved that she called them out for doing that and she refused to so the same. Making her cancer, and all the emotions that go with it - very real. And not always flattering.I think that not only will this book stay with me, it will continue to resonate in me and it is one that I will revisit. It is filled with such wisdom and reality. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I won this book and received no other compensation in exchange for this review. The opinions expressed herein are mine and mine alone.
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  • Stephen Yoder
    January 1, 1970
    I don't weep all the time for books but this one got me. Julie was a lovable character, especially because of her relentless honesty. She reminds me a bit of CZ, a friend of mine who died a few years ago of cancer. I think they would have gotten along well.I enjoyed the emotional paths of many of these chapters, especially the one where she mentioned that she hated everyone. Life isn't fair and it is okay to hate here & there.Julie had an amazing, lucky life filled with miracles. It incredib I don't weep all the time for books but this one got me. Julie was a lovable character, especially because of her relentless honesty. She reminds me a bit of CZ, a friend of mine who died a few years ago of cancer. I think they would have gotten along well.I enjoyed the emotional paths of many of these chapters, especially the one where she mentioned that she hated everyone. Life isn't fair and it is okay to hate here & there.Julie had an amazing, lucky life filled with miracles. It incredible that she survived Vietnam (you need to read this part). She didn't have to survive the boat trip from Vietnam (I had no idea that Chinese people left Vietnam in droves *after* the end of the war between the Communists & the USA). That's another great part to read. There was no guarantee that she'd have her sight largely saved by surgery in California. None of these things were a given, and yet they all happened. Great book. I'd only recommend this one to mortals.I received an advance reading copy and I'm grateful for that. Thank you for writing this book, Julie.
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  • Kathleen Gray
    January 1, 1970
    This is almost too sad- but also too loving- to review. Julie Yip-Williams should not have gotten colon cancer, no she should not have. This woman overcame so much in her life and then was hit with this diagnosis even as she was in a good place with her young family. This is unflinching but it's also thoughtful. There's no poor me here, only clear desire to grow old with her family. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. It's a very good and also humbling read.
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  • Jennifer
    January 1, 1970
    I started reading this book with the understanding that it would be published after the author died, but I wasn’t prepared for the emotional journey the book took me on. As I read, I experienced wave after wave of emotions, including sadness, joy, surprise, and frustration. And I confess, I laughed and cried while reading this heartwarming and heartbreaking story. In it, Julie Yip-Williams offers a balanced, well-rounded view of her experience with cancer and her preparation to die. She includes I started reading this book with the understanding that it would be published after the author died, but I wasn’t prepared for the emotional journey the book took me on. As I read, I experienced wave after wave of emotions, including sadness, joy, surprise, and frustration. And I confess, I laughed and cried while reading this heartwarming and heartbreaking story. In it, Julie Yip-Williams offers a balanced, well-rounded view of her experience with cancer and her preparation to die. She includes love, rage, despair, and triumphs and does not try to sugar-coat her experience. I learned a lot about cancer treatment as I read. Also, I liked that she used initials to identify people. I recommend this book for anyone suffering from cancer, including their loved ones. It’s also helpful for people who are curious about what it’s like to prepare for death. To enhance the reading experience, I suggest reading each chapter as a personal essay that’s independent of the other chapters. Also, Mrs Yip-Williams tells her cancer story and the story of her life in bits and pieces rather than chronological order, and she does repeat some information several times in the book as she adds more depth and details to her experiences. Overall, this book is an interesting memoir. It gave me more compassion and understanding for friends who are suffering with terminal cancer, and it prompted me to think about what I would do if I knew I only had a year to live. It’s an important book.
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  • Jim Gleason
    January 1, 1970
    “I loved it!” What an amazing real-life story, both sad and inspiring. The author writes from her soul, sharing in details only someone who has lived the early life tragedy, followed by accomplished life from nothing to cancer tragedy at a much too young life. As a reader you will be on a roller coaster reading from one chapter to the next, knowing too early on what the final chapter will be like while still holding out that your anticipation is wrong and a miracle – as in the title – will chang “I loved it!” What an amazing real-life story, both sad and inspiring. The author writes from her soul, sharing in details only someone who has lived the early life tragedy, followed by accomplished life from nothing to cancer tragedy at a much too young life. As a reader you will be on a roller coaster reading from one chapter to the next, knowing too early on what the final chapter will be like while still holding out that your anticipation is wrong and a miracle – as in the title – will change that ending as a surprise. But no, the opening reveal prevails and we feel deep feelings as we travel along on this life journey which, as the author reminds us, will eventually lead to death, a natural part of life as we know it all too well.The sadness isn’t in the guaranteed death we all must face, but rather what we deal with in advancing to that human fate. And there is where the depth of this insightful life story touches us as it unfolds with anticipated impact on the family that will be left behind, two young daughters and a loving soul-mate spouse. The author raises some important questions as she faces the medical trials with their disabling side effects that change the quality of life and impact family relationships. Do we make decisions based on our own needs, even if that means a shortened life span, or conversely, take into account those who are affected by our passing that will leave them without motherly support in their important growing years and life events? How do we feel about the loved husband also left behind, wishing out of love for their best, but conflicted by natural human emotions about his finding another to fill out that left behind family life. The author shares her honest innermost thoughts and feelings in a very insightful reading of those conflictual moments compounded by the unavoidable physical body pain and drug induced mental challenges, especially as they relate to the high hopes and disappointments that come with that ‘giving it our all’ to preserve life for as long as we can.I’m not giving anything away in sharing her eventual death, but in one final chapter written by her husband AFTER that death, we gain still more connection and insight into her and their amazing journey of life, however too short, but lived to its fullest despite early obstacles. And in that telling lies the inspiration of lives we all must face, lives of challenge and opportunity. I strongly recommend this reading to anyone facing life’s daily journey (especially – but not only - if yours involves cancer, either yours or a loved one’s), and that’s each and every one of us. I eventually found myself sitting up reading late into the early morning hours for the final chapters, unable to put this awesome book down as those inevitable final days unfold.
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  • Debbie Smith
    January 1, 1970
    #NetGalley #TheUnwindingOfTheMiracle Publication Date: January 8, 2019This well-written story chronicles the author's struggles with metastatic colon cancer. Julie Yip-Williams was born in Vietnam to Chinese parents. Because she had extremely poor eyesight, her grandmother instructed the parents to do the right thing and end Julie's life. According to Grandmother, a blind baby would be most unhappy and a drag on the family.Though the parents half-heartedly followed this advice, Julie's life was #NetGalley #TheUnwindingOfTheMiracle Publication Date: January 8, 2019This well-written story chronicles the author's struggles with metastatic colon cancer. Julie Yip-Williams was born in Vietnam to Chinese parents. Because she had extremely poor eyesight, her grandmother instructed the parents to do the right thing and end Julie's life. According to Grandmother, a blind baby would be most unhappy and a drag on the family.Though the parents half-heartedly followed this advice, Julie's life was spared by circumstances and soon the family moved to the United States, where they find Julie has severe cataracts. She gets some medical help correcting her eyes, but is still left with extremely bad sight. In time she earns a law degree at Harvard, travels, and hikes in Europe by herself (mostly to prove her independence and self-worth), and eventually marries. Her diagnosis of cancer comes in 2013. A time when she has only enjoyed her marriage for a few years and has two very young girls. Because of Julie's determination, she immediately takes charge of the situation by doing research to fight her disease. Her story takes the reader in all directions: religion, emotions, family, regrets, and much more. My ThoughtsWhat Concerned Me: While the book is extremely well written, it did feel a little too long for the content.What I Liked Most: Though Julie writes about the depth of her grief and unhappiness, she also manages to include things that cause the story to be uplifting and inspirational. She demonstrates such determination during her short life, that her actions and attitude alone should help many of her readers, myself included, step out of their comfort zone and occasionally pity parties.For More Reviews:http://www.pickagoodbook.com/2018/12/...
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  • Andrea
    January 1, 1970
    More reviews and book-ish content @ Club Book Mobile & Andrea RBKThe Unwinding of the Miracle by Julie Yip-Williams was outstanding. This is an emotional read, but worth the journey given the beauty of the writing. This is a memoir (posted posthumously) built around the author's terminal cancer diagnosis at 37. She uses her writing to chronicle the emotions of living with this disease. This includes her relationship with her husband, young daughters, and extended family. The title speaks to More reviews and book-ish content @ Club Book Mobile & Andrea RBKThe Unwinding of the Miracle by Julie Yip-Williams was outstanding. This is an emotional read, but worth the journey given the beauty of the writing. This is a memoir (posted posthumously) built around the author's terminal cancer diagnosis at 37. She uses her writing to chronicle the emotions of living with this disease. This includes her relationship with her husband, young daughters, and extended family. The title speaks to the fact that it is somewhat of a miracle the author even made it to adulthood. Born blind, her own grandmother wanted her parents to have her euthanized. After coming to the United States as a refugee to escape the turmoil of Vietnam, she is able to eventually get surgery to restore some sight. She spends some time on what it means to overcome such obstacles to achieve all she has, but really this is a reflection on the emotions that come with coming face-to-face with your mortality. There are days where she details the beauty in the world, and there are others where she is overcome with the pain and grief of cancer and what this means for her, as well as what will never be. By the end of this one, I was a mess of tears. However, I also found such power in this story. Throughout, she stresses the importance of living while you're living. Given her situation, she has a unique understanding of working with the time you've got, and her message is going to stay with me for awhile. Thanks to Random House for the ARC that I'm a bit behind in reading. The good news? This one is out now, so no need to wait on a release date to check this one out right now.
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  • Deborah Stevens
    January 1, 1970
    Once upon a time, a blind Vietnamese refugee toddler escaped by boat, languished in a camp in Hong Kong for a year, and then finally made it to the US and had surgery to restore a bit of sight. Through sheer grit she got a full scholarship to Williams College, spent a year in China to learn the Chinese language and her own ethnic heritage, and got into Harvard Law. She established a lucrative NYC career and met her soulmate at her large firm. They had two daughters and lived happily ever after.E Once upon a time, a blind Vietnamese refugee toddler escaped by boat, languished in a camp in Hong Kong for a year, and then finally made it to the US and had surgery to restore a bit of sight. Through sheer grit she got a full scholarship to Williams College, spent a year in China to learn the Chinese language and her own ethnic heritage, and got into Harvard Law. She established a lucrative NYC career and met her soulmate at her large firm. They had two daughters and lived happily ever after.Except that then Ms. Yip-Williams is diagnosed with colon cancer, and thus begins this book, and the greatest challenge of an already-challenging life. She sets herself the goals of fighting the cancer with the best doctors and most current information available, while living life fully with her family. When it becomes apparent that she will not survive she gets busy planning for her legacy for her daughters and the smoothest possible transition into life without her.For some reason I have read quite a few of these end of life memoirs, and I think this is one of the best. Ms. Yip-Williams is good company: a woman of high standards, who is willing to share that she does not always live up to them. A person who is very thoughtful about meaning in life, and determined to live accordingly. Someone grappling with death, but with very little self-pity. A wonderful book for anyone with mortality on the mind, and discussable for book clubs. This might be a difficult read for parents of young children, as much of the content involves a parent coming to terms with leaving children behind.
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  • Linda
    January 1, 1970
    Julie’s life seemed almost like a miracle. Born in postwar Vietnam with congenital cataracts, her grandmother wanted her parents to obtain something” that makes the baby sleep forever” since she thought a blind child would be a useless burden. The herbalist refused, great grandmother overruled, and Julie was saved, although she didn’t learn this until she was 28. Another miracle—she and her family joined the boat people leaving Vietnam and made their way to California, where Julie was treated at Julie’s life seemed almost like a miracle. Born in postwar Vietnam with congenital cataracts, her grandmother wanted her parents to obtain something” that makes the baby sleep forever” since she thought a blind child would be a useless burden. The herbalist refused, great grandmother overruled, and Julie was saved, although she didn’t learn this until she was 28. Another miracle—she and her family joined the boat people leaving Vietnam and made their way to California, where Julie was treated at UCLA Medical Center and had some sight restored, although she was still considered legally blind. The miracles continued—a scholarship to Williams College, graduating from Harvard Law, a prestigious corporate job in New York, marriage to her soul mate, 2 beautiful daughters. Then, at 37, she learned she had stage 4 colon cancer. She debates the options; people either seem to grasp at any straw to eke out a few more moments of life on earth, or opt for palliative care. She states, “The sense that we ever had control over any of this seems nothing but a mockery now, a cruel illusion. And also, a lesson: we control nothing. Well, that’s not exactly true. We control how good we are to people. We control how honest we are with ourselves and others. We control the effort we put into living. We control how we respond to impossible news. And, when the time comes, we control the terms of our surrender.” This was an intense and, at times, difficult book to read, especially her husband’s moving epilogue written after her death at 42.
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  • Elizabeth
    January 1, 1970
    First diagnosed in 2013 with Stage VI colon cancer while on holiday in LA to attend her brother's wedding, The Unwinding of the Miracle chronologically follows's the life of Julie Yip-Williams, originally born in Vietnam to Chinese parents Julie had an unconventional start to life as her family feared how her future would be affected by her very poor eye-site. Its not spoilers to mention Julie passed away five years after her diagnosis and this book is lovingly finished by her husband Josh; Juli First diagnosed in 2013 with Stage VI colon cancer while on holiday in LA to attend her brother's wedding, The Unwinding of the Miracle chronologically follows's the life of Julie Yip-Williams, originally born in Vietnam to Chinese parents Julie had an unconventional start to life as her family feared how her future would be affected by her very poor eye-site. Its not spoilers to mention Julie passed away five years after her diagnosis and this book is lovingly finished by her husband Josh; Julie leaves behind two young daughters and I think one of the most remarkable things in this book after Julie's determination and honesty is the reaction and attitude of her daughters to her illness and some of the most heartwarming moments for me were when her young children offered up their words of support and comfort.Cancer is a sensitive topic and has touched pretty much everyone's lives either directly or indirectly so some may find this difficult reading and this is a raw honest account of the years following Julie's diagnosis scattered with flashbacks to events in her childhood, its one of those books that's painful to read but you struggle to put down; think When Breath Becomes Air; and I would recommend to anyone who enjoys non-fiction. Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for early access to this in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Julie Williams
    January 1, 1970
    The Unwinding of the MiracleBy Julie Yip-WilliamsI must start by saying that it was the shared author’s surname, almost, that caught my eye when it appeared on Net Galley but after reading the description I discovered that this story is one that I know I will be eager to read.Born blind in Vietnam Julie’s life is destined to be a struggle. Following her Grandmother’s order her parents take Julie to a herbalist to end her life. Fortunately the herbalist refuses and so Julie’s life begins.Seizing The Unwinding of the MiracleBy Julie Yip-WilliamsI must start by saying that it was the shared author’s surname, almost, that caught my eye when it appeared on Net Galley but after reading the description I discovered that this story is one that I know I will be eager to read.Born blind in Vietnam Julie’s life is destined to be a struggle. Following her Grandmother’s order her parents take Julie to a herbalist to end her life. Fortunately the herbalist refuses and so Julie’s life begins.Seizing an opportunity her parents take her to America where hope is renewed and after operations to restore some of her sight open up a wealth of opportunities.Fast forward to Julie at the young age of 37 years she discovers she has colon cancer and so her battle with begins.This truly open and honest account is at times difficult to read yet Julie’s brave, strong and courageous mind-set had me hooked all the way through. Not only does this story tell of her own thoughts and endurances but also that of her family as she sets about planning her death and the future she wants for her children and husband. This moving account of one woman’s determination in the fight of terminal cancer that will stay with me for quite some time. My thanks to Net Galley for the digital ARC..
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  • Cari
    January 1, 1970
    This book. Whew. It just gutted me. I've been trying to figure out why I'm so into memoirs about death and dying, and I think with this book, I finally figured it out. Julie Yip-Williams holds nothing back. As a child, she almost died when her grandmother told her parents that she would be better off dead due to the cataracts in her eyes. But she survived a boat from Vietnam to America, got the help she needed, and got some sight back. She became a lawyer, got married, and had two amazing little This book. Whew. It just gutted me. I've been trying to figure out why I'm so into memoirs about death and dying, and I think with this book, I finally figured it out. Julie Yip-Williams holds nothing back. As a child, she almost died when her grandmother told her parents that she would be better off dead due to the cataracts in her eyes. But she survived a boat from Vietnam to America, got the help she needed, and got some sight back. She became a lawyer, got married, and had two amazing little girls. She's brave and smart and completely authentic with her journey through Stage IV cancer, and she confronts death as I imagine any of us would - wavering, not wanting to go, and yet also walking into it with open eyes. I realized, as I cried through the end of the book, that people like Julie and Nina Riggs (THE BRIGHT HOUR) and Paul Kalanithi (WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR) are the ones giving us the best of themselves. By sharing their stories, they are helping all of us deal with what we will all one day go through. Julie writes about the unwinding of the miracle - about how she brought her babies into the world, and the miracle began on those days. And death, the end of the miracle, is just as important for us to honor as a transition into a new and unexplained world.
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  • Sharon May
    January 1, 1970
    Many thanks to NetGalley, Random House, and the author's family for the opportunity to read and review this book. 4.5 stars.In her late 30s, Julie Yip-Williams, was diagnosed with Stage IV colorectal cancer. She was a successful attorney, happily married with two small children. But this wasn't the first time Julie had faced death. She was born in Vietnam to Chinese parents at a time of civil unrest. She was born blind with severe cataracts and her grandmother forced her parents to take her to a Many thanks to NetGalley, Random House, and the author's family for the opportunity to read and review this book. 4.5 stars.In her late 30s, Julie Yip-Williams, was diagnosed with Stage IV colorectal cancer. She was a successful attorney, happily married with two small children. But this wasn't the first time Julie had faced death. She was born in Vietnam to Chinese parents at a time of civil unrest. She was born blind with severe cataracts and her grandmother forced her parents to take her to a herb doctor who would put her in an eternal sleep so she would not be a burden to her family. Surviving that as well as an escape on a refugee boat would have seemed to use up her share of bad luck. This book is Julie's diary of her diagnosis, treatment and acceptance of her death. She railed at the cultural view of cancer of it being a war and if you fight hard enough you can win it, as well as the sometimes cheerful denial of those facing death. Julie was angry and while she fought very hard to stay in this life for her family, she was also very much a realist. This is definitely a book that urges everyone to live life while you have it and to live it fully. But also to embrace the eventual unwinding of the miracle that is life.
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  • dori
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you, Netgalley, for the opportunity to read this book in exhange for an honest review. Given the subject matter, I feel terrible even writing this review - they say one should never speak unkindly of the dead. That's not what I wish to do here, anyway - I simply want to warn the living.Unless you are greatly helped by reading any and all cancer memoirs, you can skip this one. My eyes were glazed over by the prologue. I stuck it out into chapter one but as the clichés continued to pile on, Thank you, Netgalley, for the opportunity to read this book in exhange for an honest review. Given the subject matter, I feel terrible even writing this review - they say one should never speak unkindly of the dead. That's not what I wish to do here, anyway - I simply want to warn the living.Unless you are greatly helped by reading any and all cancer memoirs, you can skip this one. My eyes were glazed over by the prologue. I stuck it out into chapter one but as the clichés continued to pile on, I found myself nose-first and drooling on my Kindle with no desire to continue.Again, i realize that sounds so terribly harsh, but I'm merely offering feedback as an avid reader and "memoir junkie" as I like to refer to myself. I'm sure the author's loved ones appreciated this final gift and others may also have a totally different experience than I did. This may speak to them, too. It just didn't say anything to me.
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  • Janilyn Kocher
    January 1, 1970
    This book is a sobering, depressing, yet powerful testament to the author's experience with colon cancer. She tried every conceivable approach to beat it, but invariably it won. Yip- Williams is brutally honest, frank, and blunt with her experiences, emotions, breakdowns, and struggles. That's the most powerful part of her memoir. I loved reading about her personal history and her family's story. I hated reading about all her tests, procedures, and how progressively worse she was. Ultimately, he This book is a sobering, depressing, yet powerful testament to the author's experience with colon cancer. She tried every conceivable approach to beat it, but invariably it won. Yip- Williams is brutally honest, frank, and blunt with her experiences, emotions, breakdowns, and struggles. That's the most powerful part of her memoir. I loved reading about her personal history and her family's story. I hated reading about all her tests, procedures, and how progressively worse she was. Ultimately, her parting advice was live for the day and take those risks. Good advice to heed. There is a touching epilogue from her husband. This memoir is truly worth reading, if just to be grateful for what we each have. Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC.
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  • Helen
    January 1, 1970
    Julie Yip-Williams considered birth to be a Miracle and so her death was the unwinding of her birth. Julie was only thirty seven years old when she was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer. Julie was a successful lawyer, a wife and the mother of two little girls. This is her very honest journal of her struggles with the physical and emotional trials of living with and fighting cancer. She is an exceptional writer and I felt a deep connection with her as I read her most intimate thoughts and fe Julie Yip-Williams considered birth to be a Miracle and so her death was the unwinding of her birth. Julie was only thirty seven years old when she was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer. Julie was a successful lawyer, a wife and the mother of two little girls. This is her very honest journal of her struggles with the physical and emotional trials of living with and fighting cancer. She is an exceptional writer and I felt a deep connection with her as I read her most intimate thoughts and feelings as she lived her daily life until her death five years later. Many of us have lost loved ones to cancer and I found her book to be a lovely tribute to her life and a generous sharing gift to anyone who has cancer or has a loved one who is facing their own death.
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  • Katherine
    January 1, 1970
    What an amazing book! I cannot stop thinking about this and it has taken me a couple of days to put into words the impact this had on me. Part memoir, part biography, part love letter to her family, and part guide to living with integrity to the end. I read this in one day--could not put it down! It was sometimes very sad, always poignant and I even laughed at parts. Ms Yip-Williams has a strong voice which comes out loud and clear throughout this narrative. You will feel her frustration, love, What an amazing book! I cannot stop thinking about this and it has taken me a couple of days to put into words the impact this had on me. Part memoir, part biography, part love letter to her family, and part guide to living with integrity to the end. I read this in one day--could not put it down! It was sometimes very sad, always poignant and I even laughed at parts. Ms Yip-Williams has a strong voice which comes out loud and clear throughout this narrative. You will feel her frustration, love, sincerity and humanity in the face of five years of overwhelming circumstances. My best wishes go out to her family for peace and happy memories. Thank you to #netgalley for the chance to read #theunwindingofthemiracle ahead of publication in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Anitajt
    January 1, 1970
    A true story of an amazing journey of survival as a baby born blind in Vietnam and then a devastating cancer diagnosis. The author guides us through her life story, it’s emotional yet uplifting, she is so honest and manages to draw you in, which is why it’s so unputdownable. A must read for all Thank you to Netgalley, the publisher and the author for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Shelley
    January 1, 1970
    This is a hard book to read--we are only reading it because the author has died. It is frank and important, in the way death is faced. There are faults (repetition, the "slutty second wife" thing) but it's not as if the author had time to go back and smooth it out. (I feel tacky just pointing that out.)
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  • Patti
    January 1, 1970
    I gave this book 4 stars. It was an inspiring story written by a mother to her husband and children about her journey through cancer. I thought that while it was touching, it was repetitive at times with unnecessary details. Her husband stepped out if his comfort zone and wrote the epilogue after her death.
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  • Jenifer Greenwell
    January 1, 1970
    DNF - for now. I was reading this book in small bits so I would not become overwhelmed with sadness. Beautifully written, but just not the book for me at this time. I plan to finish this at a time when I am more able to handle it. Thank you to Random House and Goodreads for providing me an ARC of this book through a giveaway. I will be back to complete my review when I finish it.
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