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Random House Publishing Group, Spring 2019

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The Unwinding of the Miracle
A Memoir of Life, Death, and Everything That Comes After
By (author): Julie Yip-Williams
9780525511359 Hardcover English General Trade BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Personal Memoirs Feb 05, 2019
$36.00 CAD
Active 6.3 x 9.5 x 1 in 336 pages Random House
A rare and inspiring memoir by a young mother with Stage IV metastatic cancer that challenges the pieties with which we usually write and talk about death, and serves as a guide not just through the ordeal of disease, but through the universal experience of struggle.

Born blind in Vietnam, Julie Yip-Williams narrowly escaped euthanasia by her grandmother, only to then flee the political upheaval of the late 1970s with her family. Loaded into a rickety boat with three hundred other refugees, Julie made it to Hong Kong and, ultimately, America, where a surgeon at UCLA gave her partial sight. Against all odds, she became a Harvard-educated lawyer, with a husband, a family, a life. Then, at age thirty-seven, with two little girls at home, Julie was diagnosed with terminal metastatic colon cancer, and a different journey began.

The Unwinding of the Miracle is the story of a vigorous life refracted through the prism of imminent death. Motherhood, marriage, ambition, love, wanderlust, tennis, grief, jealousy, anger, comfort, pain, disease—there is simply nothing this book is not about. Growing out of a blog Julie has kept through the past four years of her life (undertaken because she couldn’t find the guidance she needed through her disease), this is the story of a life lived so well, and cut too short. It is inspiring and instructive, delightful and shattering. It is a book of indelible moments, seared deep.

With glorious humor, beautiful and bracing honesty, and the cleansing power of well-deployed anger, Julie Yip-Williams has set the stage for her lasting legacy and one final miracle: the story of her life.

MEDIA INTEREST: CBS produced a special on Julie (

PODCAST COMPANION: Julie participated in a podcast to complement the book, produced by Pineapple Street Media (producers of Women of the Hour with Lena Dunham, Missing Richard Simmons, Stay Tuned with Preet, among others)

SUBJECT - AND APPROACH TO IT - RESONATE POWERFULLY: Julie has become somewhat of a figure in the terminal illness community, championed for her frank and unvarnished dispatches from the front lines of her cancer fighting journey.

REMARKABLE JOURNEY: Julie’s life story cuts through several domains of trauma and tribulation, from overcoming physical impairment, to emigrating as a refugee, to preparing her two young daughters for her death and giving them the “gift of grief,” to resolutely confronting her own terminal illness, her story will find deep resonance in the lives of many.

Julie Yip-Williams was a forty-one-year-old writer, mother, wife, and lawyer who, in March 2018, died of Stage IV colon cancer. She lived in Brooklyn with her husband, Josh, and daughters, Mia and Belle.

Author Hometown: Brooklyn, New York

Author Website:

“Eloquent, gutting and at times disarmingly funny …Yip-Williams writes with such vibrancy and electricity even as she is dying…. This memoir is so many things—a triumphant tale of a blind immigrant, a remarkable philosophical treatise and a call to arms to pay attention to the limited time we have on this earth. But at its core, it’s an exquisitely moving portrait of the daily stuff of life: family secrets and family ties, marriage and its limitlessness and limitations, wild and unbounded parental love and, ultimately, the graceful recognition of what we can’t—and can—control.”The New York Times Book Review (Editors’ Choice)

“Everything worth understanding and holding on to is in this book…. A miracle indeed.”—Kelly Corrigan, New York Times bestselling author of The Middle Place and Tell Me More

“A beautifully written, moving, and compassionate chronicle that deserves to be read and absorbed widely.”—Siddhartha Mukherjee, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Emperor of All Maladies

“Julie Yip-Williams lived a life defined by effort and incredible self-reliance. But in this searing memoir of increasing vulnerability, she dismantles and then reconstructs what it means to be triumphant. Her writing examines not only her disability and illness—and their cultural, medical, and narrative constructs—but love, authenticity, hope, egotism, even rage. I didn’t know Julie, but in these pages, I grew to love her.”—Lucy Kalanithi

“When talking to my patients, I have always struggled to find the perfect balance between hope and honesty. While they are often thought of as opposites, Julie Yip-Williams reminds us they can coexist in a beautiful and meaningful way. In The Unwinding of the Miracle, we are treated to a beautifully written story that is also at times brutally candid about the realities of her cancer diagnosis and treatment. It is increasingly rare to find such an authentic voice, one that will inform and inspire you.”—Sanjay Gupta, M.D.

“[When] Yip-Williams was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer at the age of thirty-seven 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…. [Her] wise and moving account of her battle with cancer is an extraordinary call to live wholeheartedly.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

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