After returning home to Biloxi, Mississippi a veteran paraplegic, Cameron Harris – who is suffering from a horrific event in Afghanistan – lost everything. Living with his sister, Tanya, he spends a lot of time drinking, remorsefully ruminating about having to navigate the world in a new wheelchair. From the death of his mother, to war and devastating damage from the hurricane, Cameron has suffered his fair share of tragedy and disaster until one day, while waiting for Tanya in the convenience store parking lot, he just stands up and starts to walk without assistance. Was it a miracle, or was there a medical explanation?
After a Facebook post about what had taken place goes viral, the local and national media bombard Cameron with questions related to his recovery. Christians believe this was a miracle and proof of God and even a lawyer sent by the Vatican arrives to investigate. But Cameron is confused about what really happened; he isn’t driven by religion or faith, his doctor is unable to offer an explanation and he has a difficult time living up to the American Hero persona that is being forced upon him by TV executives attempting to make a documentary about him.
When the Vatican investigator starts digging to interview the men Cameron served with in the war, a huge secret is revealed that impacts what people believe. As Cameron questions himself and the discovery forces the public to reexamine their explanations, religion and science are up against each other in this search for the truth.
Anatomy of a Miracle (Hogarth/Crown Publishing) is a novel written as if it is true. Several chapters were quite dense due to the investigative nature and reporting style of writing, but the recap of what went on in Afghanistan and the character development that went along with that gave me great understanding of Cameron. This book touched on several topics from religious beliefs, medical science, identity, celebrity and truth, all while providing insight into how different types of people assess what is around them and how they work it to their advantage.
While trying to understand one’s fate and purpose, often people infuse a bit of imagination to feed their own agenda and to support their beliefs. “Imagination isn’t just seeing what’s not there. Imagination is also what we use to figure out why what’s there is the way it is.” Anatomy of a Miracle is Sarah Jessica Parker’s latest pick for the American Library Association’s Book Club Central.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
JONATHAN MILES is the author of the novels Dear American Airlines and Want Not, both New York Times Notable Books. He is a former columnist for the New York Times, has served as a Contributing Editor to magazines ranging from Details to Field & Stream, and his journalism has been frequently anthologized in Best American Sports Writing and Best American Crime Writing. He is also the author of a book on fish and game cookery, The Wild Chef, and competed in the Dakar Rally, an off-road race through Africa.