Anatomy of a Miracle

A Novel*
Narrated by: Edoardo Ballerini
Length: 13 hrs and 55 mins
4.3 out of 5 stars (173 ratings)

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Publisher's 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 championed and celebrated as a powerful story of our time and the work of a true literary master.

©2018 Jonathan Miles (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“Funny, bighearted...Miles specializes in giving fully rounded humanity to characters who might elsewhere be treated as stock figures...pitch-perfect.” (New York Times Book Review)

"Jonathan Miles's masterful new novel Anatomy of a Miracle documents the slo-mo explosion of an attention-grabbing event with trompe l'oeil flourishes.... Miles is a writer so virtuosic that readers will feel themselves becoming better, more observant people from reading him.... Part of why Anatomy feels so expansive is that Miles takes every opportunity to delve into the characters' backstories...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 loudest on the internet - is worthy of attention." (Los Angeles Review of Books)

"The impossible happens in...Jonathan Miles's latest novel, Anatomy of a Miracle. But it's what occurs before the astonishing event and what unspools after that will break open hearts and imaginations.... Miles's powerful prose nudges readers to seek the soft spots between faith and judgment, story and science, and fact and fiction." (CJ Lotz, Garden & Gun)

What listeners say about Anatomy of a Miracle

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Quitting After Seven Hours--Bo-o-o-o-o-ring

I usually won't read reviews when someone has not finished a book, but I cannot justify taking any more time with this book. I have been at it for about 7 hours! Let me preface this review by saying the author has excellent writing skills and Edouaro Ballarini is a wonderful narrator. You see, it is the story that just doesn't grab me and gets more boring and unpleasant by the hour. I don't like any of the characters: the miracle recipient, Cameron, is muted, continues to be depressed, is not interesting in the least, and seems to have no self-awareness. It is hard to root for him. Cameron's sister, Tanya, a main player, is, like her brother, poor, uneducated, and very boring too. The collateral characters are as uninteresting as the protagonist. The book is identified as a novel yet also a true story. Which is it? It is described as "bighearted". Really? What does that mean? The story-line sounded so interesting and fascinating to me, I couldn't resist buying it and wanted to dive in right away. It did not grab me in any way. To be honest, my spouse listened to it and felt it was decent. So there you are. Do you buy it or pass? You know what my opinion is. You must decide if the glowing reviews convince you to give it a chance.

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Astoundingly good

Mark Twain might blush with pride if he could see a son of the south tackle issues of sex, religion, politics and war in such an intelligent and irreverent way, depending on how you tune your ears. The performance is top notch, subtle, supple, believable but never over the top. Time well spent.

7 people found this helpful

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Some good moments,

Even a good narrator couldn't keep me interested in this story that just seemed to jump around. The writing is fine but unfocused. I think an editor could have made this a better story.

6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Contemporary themes, pristine writing

There is so much to praise it is hard to know where to start. Miles' characters are so very well created that it allows much of the plot to be understood from diverse and compelling perspectives. This novel presents several themes relevant to current daily news, but never seemed bogged down or lost my interest. Cameron, the soldier and recipient of the miracle, his sister, and the myriad people either directly effected by the miracle and those who insert themselves into the situation for personal reasons all incur ramifications that were unanticipated and unintended. I love love love this book, even more than Want Not, which is also spectacular. Miles is a totally unique author.

8 people found this helpful

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We See What We Want to See

Really fantastic. Told as if a narrative nonfiction account, this novel explores issues of faith--in religion, in science, in love, in other people--from the perspective of a narrator who is decidedly not omniscient. What would you do if you witnessed something that appeared to be a miracle? Would you accept it as that? Or dismiss it as a scientific anomaly for which no explanation has yet been proposed? Or would you try to profit it and make the entire situation about yourself? All these questions and more are explored with humor, compassion and an eye that somehow combines cynicism and idealism. I quite literally laughed and cried at various intervals throughout this novel. How wonderful.

4 people found this helpful

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mostly good, room for improvement.

plot and narrator are amazing. the characters are interesting amd well developed. however, writing is occasionally clunky, and doesn't quite weave all the parts together well.

1 person found this helpful

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Ending disappointing

Narrator was excellent. Story thought provoking, descriptions painted vivid picture of events as they unfold. Characters & dialogue believable. Ending was disappointing for me.

2 people found this helpful

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amazing

The best book I've read in a long time and I was not expecting it. The author did a superb job in recounting this story. The writing was graceful, perfectly paced, and masterful in its revealing. This was a story I couldn't "out down".

2 people found this helpful

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Thought Provoking and Interesting

This book was both what I expected and unexpected. I don’t always read reviews before selecting a book to read in order to avoid spoilers, so I was not expecting the sexual aspect of this book. *Spoiler alert, Cameron is gay* The author starts out in vivid detail setting the scene of what appears to be a miracle - a man having severed his spinal cord four years ago is now able to walk again unexpectedly. The expected part of this book was everyone trying to analyze this so called miracle and/or debunk it and how this event touched each of the people surrounding Cameron. The journalistic approach introduced several people that at first glance didn’t seem relevant but in the end tied into each other. It truly was an interesting read and I will definitely give it another listen at a later date to pick up anything I missed. As with religion, politics, and life, you don’t always agree with everyone and this author did a great job of weaving hard topics into this story. This book would be a good choice for a reading group that likes to debate such subjects. The narrator had a fantastic voice for this book, although I had to play the audio at 1.5 to 1.75 speed, however, some people might enjoy the slower southern pace.

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WAY WAY WAY too long and meandering

Although the writing by the author is very good, this book is WAY TOO LONG. The narration meanders all over the place and the author goes off on lengthy side stories that have little, or nothing at all, to do with the main story. For example, going into depth about the doctor's family background, or giving extreme detail of a bloody battle in Afghanistan. Again, NOTHING to do with the story itself, just like mini-stories he decided to insert into the book for no apparent reason. I found myself saying out loud more than once in frustration, "Just get on with it!". The story itself is just okay, The book and story could be accomplished in 4 hours. I wouldn't recommend this one.