The Unwinding of the Miracle: A Memoir of Life, Death, and Everything That Comes After
Booklist Reviews 2018 December #1
*Starred Review* This is the poignant and compelling memoir of Yip-Williams' battle with and eventual surrender to cancer. Entries written in real time during the five years between the author's diagnosis and death document her deteriorating physical condition, her emotional angst, and her family's anguish. Throughout, she reflects on her life and reveals what an amazing miracle it has been. Born blind in Vietnam, she survived a perilous boat trip as a refugee, came to the U.S., excelled in school, traveled, earned a law degree from Harvard, enjoyed a successful career, got married, and had two daughters—all by age 37, when this story begins. Her writing is honest and, by turns, angry, humorous, and heart-breaking, especially when she talks about her two little girls, who are just starting elementary school. Even though readers know the ending—the prologue indicates that if they're reading this, she's already gone—every bit of new bad news hits like a blow to the gut. Readers' will smile when Yip-Williams facetiously describes the slutty second wife she envisions for her husband and share in her grief as she makes plans for her funeral. Never mawkish, The Unwinding of the Miracle will resonate with readers. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.
LJ Reviews 2018 August #1
Born blind in Vietnam just as the war was ending and nearly euthanized by her grandmother, Yip-Williams fled with her family across the waters during the turbulent 1970s, landing in Hong Kong and America, where surgeons partly restored her sight. Harvard Law School, a big career, and a family followed in quick succession. Then, at age 37, Yip-Williams was diagnosed with terminal metastatic colon cancer; writing this book gave her purpose and understanding before her death at age 42. It humbles you.Copyright 2018 Library Journal.
LJ Reviews 2019 January #1
For Yip-Williams, accepting death meant embracing life. Answering her daughter Mia's wish to narrate her story, Yip-Williams, who died in 2018 at age 42, shares an emotional and powerful work of family and living with a visual disability. Born to an ethnic Chinese family living in poverty in Vietnam, the author also had congenital cataracts and was legally blind. To save her from a life of dependency, her grandma suggested a potion that would allow her granddaughter to sleep—and never wake up. Yip-Williams tells intertwining accounts of fate and luck; her family fleeing Vietnam during a period of ethnic cleansing, making their way to a refugee camp in Hong Kong and ultimately to California, where she would receive sight-giving surgery. Yip-Williams describes her resentment, her feelings of not fitting in because of her thick glasses and later being diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer in the midst of a successful law career. Yip-Williams relates her final journey of physical, emotional, and spiritual fatigue, writing letters to daughters Mia and Isabelle and husband Josh along the way.
PW Reviews 2018 October #4
When lawyer Yip-Williams was diagnosed with stage-IV colon cancer at the age of 37 in 2013, she decided to write her story, which resulted in this inspiring and remarkable work that chronicles her immigration to the U.S. and her final five years. Born in Vietnam with congenital cataracts, Yip-Williams writes that her grandmother—who deemed her a burden to the family—had found an herbalist she hoped would administer a potion to put the infant to "sleep forever." He refused, and Yip-Williams's ethnic Chinese family later moved to Hong Kong, where a Catholic charity sponsored their relocation to California, where Yip-Williams was raised and underwent corrective eye surgery. She attended Harvard Law School, joined a firm where she met her husband, moved to Brooklyn, and had two children. After her diagnosis, she was determined to make the most of the time left (she died in March 2018), and to leave a written legacy for her daughters. Yip-Williams faced cancer head on, with "brutal honesty," anger, humor, and resolve. Planning her death, she made Costco runs, traveled to the Galapagos Islands, found a child psychologist for her daughters ages six and eight, and even joked about her husband getting a "Slutty Second Wife." Yip-Williams's wise and moving account of her battle with cancer is an extraordinary call to live wholeheartedly.