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Anatomy of a Miracle

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  2,316 ratings  ·  409 reviews
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 th
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published March 13th 2018 by Hogarth Press
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Jonathan Miles I think it is, though I'm biased. There's a twist or two coming. Give it a whirl.…moreI think it is, though I'm biased. There's a twist or two coming. Give it a whirl.(less)
Elizabeth My interpretation is that when Cameron is saying that Tanya has always been there for him, protecting him, taking care of him, Tanya reflects and says…moreMy interpretation is that when Cameron is saying that Tanya has always been there for him, protecting him, taking care of him, Tanya reflects and says that she had no part in him rising out of his chair at the Biz E Bee (likely the thing that she most wished in her life that she could have done for him). He adds that it also wasn't him, in essence acknowledging the miracle of it without attributing it to anyone or anything. (less)

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Diane S ☔
Feb 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
I was actually confused while reading this whether I was reading fiction or nonfiction. It is written in the style of the show, Making of a murderer, if one watched that. No murder here but rather a resurrection of sorts, as Cameron a young man who lost the use of his legs in Afghanistan, rises again in a Vietnamese store owners parking lot. We then follow this supposed miracle and all its ramifications. From the miracle seekers who appear, to the different church representatives, and of course ...more
Angela M
Mar 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
It was as if I was reading a true account of what people were claiming to be a miracle. Cameron Harris is paralyzed from the waist down after being hit with shrapnel while on duty in Afghanistan. One afternoon in front of a convenience store in Biloxi, MS, he gets up out of his wheelchair and walks, something he hasn’t been able to do for four years. This is isn’t just Cameron’s story. It soon becomes evident that this is also about a cast of other characters and that there so many layers here. ...more
Dec 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
The publisher is billing Anatomy of a Miracle as a *true story. It’s fiction written in a journalistic style and it is compelling. The writing is dense, full of VSD (Vivid, Specific, Detail) and it took me an unusually long time to read. Cameron returns from Afghanistan as a paraplegic and spends four sad years in a wheelchair under the care of his sister, Tanya. Miraculously, he stands up and begins to walk in front of his local convenience store in his Mississippi hometown. Was this a bonafide ...more
Sarah Jessica Parker
This wonderful book was our 4th selection for ALA Book Club Central! An astoundingly joyous and deeply humane novel by a great writer.

If you were driving through Biloxi, Mississippi on August 23rd of 2014, and happened to stop at the Biz-E-Bee store on Reconfort Avenue and Division Street that afternoon just as Tanya Harris walked in, and her brother, Cameron rolled up, you might have been there to witness the Miracle. Not that they’d gone there looking for a miracle, Tanya was looking to buy some cigarettes, and Cameron, melting in the heat and humidity of the day, had beer in mind to offset the weather.
Hank Stuever
Feb 08, 2019 rated it it was ok
Having very much enjoyed the author's previous novels ("Dear American Airlines" and "Want Not"), I was looking forward to this, but, as they say, it just didn't grab me. Maybe it was the structure, maybe it was the setting. I was never interested in the characters or the hook. I could go on, but it wouldn't feel like criticism, it would just feel like whining. All I know is it shouldn't take me more than a month to finish a novel. Your mileage may certainly vary. ...more
Jan 19, 2018 added it
After reading several outstanding advance reviews of this book, I was very eager to get my hands on it. The premise, cited as a *true story, is intriguing: when a young paraplegic Afghanistan veteran experiences a full recovery, what does it mean? Is it a true miracle or a medical breakthrough? More importantly, what if the veteran is harboring secrets and is not defined as “worthy”? Can or should he still be a symbol for divine mercy if he is perceived by misguided fundamentalists as a sinner?

Jennifer Blankfein
Apr 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
After returning to Biloxi, Mississippi a veteran paraplegic, from an horrific event in Afghanistan, Cameron Harris lives with his sister Tanya, spends a lot of time drinking and manages to get around in a wheelchair. From the death of his mother, to the damaging hurricane, to the war, Cameron has suffered his share. And then one day while waiting for Tanya in the convenience store parking lot, he just stands up and starts to walk…was it a miracle, or was there a medical explanation? After a Face ...more
Mar 17, 2018 rated it liked it
As much as I love how this author puts you into the characters quickly and the place setting was also done superbly, I dislike the pace and style of his prose. It just doesn't flow to my continuity "meter" and yet it does have a purpose. He writes in a journalism non-fiction jumble of what seems to me a frenetic paced load of information. And at the same time as telling you so much, so quickly- he also hides huge areas by omission. It's as if he is putting everything left salvageable from 3 Katr ...more
Feb 25, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed-bookbag
(Nearly 3.5) Look closely at the cover of Miles’s third novel and you see the central drama depicted: wheelchair tracks snake up and stop three-quarters of the way from the top, where they are replaced by footprints: A paralyzed Afghanistan veteran stands up and walks in Biloxi, MS. Is it a miracle, or an explainable medical phenomenon? Miles has been sly in how he’s packaged this. On the title page he calls it a ‘True Story’, and the style is reminiscent of journalistic reportage (like in Dave ...more
Nov 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A story about the riddles of the human heart, the contradictions we carry, the wounds seen and unseen, and the many sides to a story. Haunting and humble, Miles presents the residents of small town America, a place still ravaged from Hurricane Katrina, as they deal with the extraordinary healing that has occurred there. From the war zones of the Middle East to the dusty shelves of a local convenience store, questions of science and faith and love emerge, presented almost documentary style. Getti ...more
Nov 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have read many genres from literary fiction to memoirs, but I can't recall ever reading a book quite like this one. The publisher describes it as "A profound new novel about a paralyzed young man’s unexplainable recovery—a stunning exploration of faith, science, mystery, and the meaning of life, " but the whole time I was reading, I couldn't decide if the account by Jonathan Miles was fact or fiction. The story moves between small town life in Mississippi where wheelchair- bound Cameron ekes o ...more
A slow burn but very worth the time. Interesting take on faith, miracles, and much more!
May 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Cameron Harris is a paraplegic due to a land mine in Afghanistan 4 years prior, his older sister,Tanya takes care of him in their Biloxi, MS home, one of the many victims of Katrina.

A family aware of life’s ills: abandoned by their father, the loss of their mother via a car accident, they reside in the shotgun home they were born in.

Life’s daily is a trip to the Biz-e-Bee for needs. Tanya pushing Cameron, known to all they pass and within. It’s while inside that Cameron is witnessed outside taki
Feb 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley for free in exchange for an honest review.
Anatomy of a Miracle is a wonder. We are thrust into Cameron Harris's world with the exacting view of an investigative reporter. Within the first few pages, I forgot I was reading a novel and had fully bought into Cameron's story.
Cameron, like many young men who are adrift, joined the Army. He went to war and came home paralyzed and battling PTSD. For four years he existed with the help of his sister, Tanya.
Sue Dix
Apr 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What an extraordinary book. It starts slowly, but builds and builds into an ever increasingly quick paced adventure. This book ostensibly deals with what constitutes a miracle, but ultimately it deals with what constitutes a human being.
Kathryn Bashaar
Apr 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Cameron Harris was wounded in Afghanistan, paralyzed from the waist down, and has been living for the past four years in a seen-better-days neighborhood of Biloxi. His sister Tanya devotedly cares for him. Then, one day four years after his wounding, he stands up our of his wheelchair and walks in the parking lot of the local convenience store, the Biz E Bee. Now Cameron is news, not just another wounded, forgotten veteran. His doctors scramble for an explanation. Everyone from the local priest ...more
Shannon A
Dec 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
A novel inspired by true events that opens with one unexplainable moment of recovery; which in turn, leads Cameron down the path of unexpected self-discovery.
A true-to-life novel that will leave you wondering: which was the true miracle?
One of the most compelling novels I've read in a long time.

As Soren Kierkgaard said, just because something inconceivable happens, in the scope of our perceptions. doesn't mean it didn't happen.
Your mine, are irrelevant to this investigation. p185
What's true doesn't need to be imagined. You can see it right in front of you. p347

Yet it does seem to be true that when what is imagined is right in front of us, it can take on the appearance of the real. The main question this book addresses in various ways concerns the relationship between tru
Jun 01, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some mixed feelings on this one. While I appreciated the approach to tell this story as a reporter would I guess it ended up feeling too much like non-fiction for me with long medical descriptions and more information than I was prepared for about military locations in Afghanistan.
But I loved the central question of what constitutes a miracle. And I really adored Cameron and his sister Tanya. I think I would have liked a little more heart in this book.
I wish I could give it ten stars. Rarely have a read a work by a novelist so fully in command of such prodigious talent—and found it by turns heartbreaking, entertaining, and genuinely thought-provoking. Astonishing.
Nov 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I found this book to be a compelling read for several reasons: it's a true story, the idea of a miracle - unexplainable event, and the resulting repercussions revolving around this recovery. If you grew up as I did attending Catholic schools and have ever had a nun say to you, "You are just the type who will..." - then you know the weird, uncomfortable feeling of wondering if you are going to receive some religious bolt of lightning on your head inspiring you to do something that you're not exac ...more
Greg Zimmerman
Oct 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This terrific novel is a thorough and thoughtful examination of our current culture, and some of the absolute absurdities of it — that people tend to shoehorn events and their implications into their current worldview instead of re-examining or re-evaluating their worldview based on new information. (To paraphrase something Jon Stewart once said: I used to think people's reality influenced their politics. Now it's clear people's politics influences their reality.) The story is about a paralyzed ...more
Mar 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Southern Lit with that 21st century twist: A Reality Show

Jonathan Miles’s stab at a fictionalized non-fiction project lands like a dart in a bullseye with Anatomy of a Miracle. The unexplained, spontaneous recovery of PFC Cameron Harris’s severed spine of has all the trappings of a true story, complete with a reality tv experience (which, by its very existence, offers truly gothic and cringeworthy developments) - but it offers so much more, too. The unexpected narrative arc, absorbing and well r
Lynda Eicher
Oct 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read and re-read Jonathan Miles. Everything he writes deserves a second read. Anatomy of a Miracle is no exception. I got bogged down in the military details of Cameron's Afghanistan narrative, but knew there was a reason I was reading it. And, like Want Not, I read scenes as if this is a mystery, details that I should have seen earlier, but got too caught up in his prose. which is magnificent. I read his books as if I am studying them for a class, as if I need to write a grad level literary a ...more
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 questi
Apr 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is the fictional account of Cameron Harris, who, after 4 years of being paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair as a result of a war injury,suddenly stands up and walks. Written in the style of narrative non-fiction, the book considers faith, both romantic and familial love, war, and reality television. Was this a miracle or was there a medical explanation for his recovery? Great writing and some unexpected plot twists make for a very entertaining read. Good fodder for a book group discussio ...more
Apr 09, 2018 rated it did not like it
Didn't like it, didn't finish it. Author is not untalented, but the book just seemed to plow the same ground over and over without getting anywhere interesting, despite a premise that offered plenty of intriguing possibilities. ...more
Apr 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: booktopia-2018
The conceit is that this book is a narrative nonfiction about a vet, Cameron Harris, paralyzed from the waist down, who comes home, lives several years in a depressed daze in a wheelchair, and then suddenly rises and walks in the parking lot of a mom and pop convenience store. His story goes viral and he becomes the subject of an investigation by the Catholic Church on whether his restored movement is a miracle. He also becomes the subject of a reality TV show and a medical investigation.

One thi
Kasa Cotugno
This rich, satisfying read comes with much to recommend it. How Cameron and Tanya, his sister, find their lives forever changed in ever increasing ways after Cameron's quadriplegia all of a sudden disappears. Several books have been issued regarding the backlash of the current wars and their effect on the American population, but by choosing Biloxi as his location, Miles opens the possibility for a large cast surrounding the central issue, and it is these characterizations that propel this book ...more
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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,

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