12 Aug / The Unwinding of the Miracle: A Memoir of Life, Death, and Everything That Comes After by Julie Yip-Williams [in Booklist]
The miracles were many: “born poor and blind in Vietnam on the losing side of a bloody civil war,” Julie Yip-Williams survived her grandmother’s demand to have her killed, escaped on a leaky boat with her family to Hong Kong, arrived as a refugee in the U.S. and thrived to become a Harvard-degreed lawyer, traveled the world alone despite visual constraints, found her soulmate and brought two glorious daughters into the world. Then at 37, those miracles began to unwind with a Stage IV cancer diagnosis. She begins here with her ending—her death revealed on the first page.
In voicing a dead woman’s story, Emily Woo Zeller’s usual just-on-the-verge-of-overwrought presentation matches Yip-Williams’ aching frustrations, her grievous anger; she’s adept at underscoring Yip-Williams’ raw humor, particularly her musings about the hypothetical “Slutty Second Wife.” Zeller falls short, however, in Yip-Williams’ more contemplative moments, sounding more panicked than philosophical. Despite full awareness of Yip-Williams’ fatal outcome, the vocal transition to husband Joshua’s epilogue proves particularly wrenching. With resilient grace, he gifts readers with “the finishing note on this story, just as she asked [him] to do.”