Jonathan Miles wrote Anatomy of a Miracle: A Novel* so it is a fictional story that reads like a biographical account. During the entire introduction to the main character as you read about Cameron’s experience becoming a paraplegic during a military tour in Afghanistan at the tender age of 22, losing the home he and his sister inherited during the ravages of Hurricane Katrina and the flood that surged and submerged their town afterwards, or the loss of their parents through death or abandonment, you’ll feel like you’re reading about a real person’s tragic life. Be prepared to emote as one might at any sad-but-true story. Except, then you realize that it’s not sad because Cameron actually recovers from his paralysis and starts walking again. And then you remember that this isn’t actually a true story, so tears are neither required or merited.
None of these details are spoilers. It all occurs in the first ten pages of the novel, thereby reserving the next 350 or so pages for what happens after – various attempts to explain Cameron’s miraculous (?) recovery and what the investigation means for his life afterwards…. the anatomy of his miracle.
Expertly written in a journalistic style, Anatomy of a Miracle: A Novel* is developed from a captivating plot and Miles carries this interest as far as it can go into the past and future, revisiting happier years when Cameron’s birth itself was considered a miracle as a point of comparison for the turns of his later life, and then to the social media blitz when the world reacts to news that just as in Biblical times, a crippled man is made whole and various people and religious groups hustle to take credit for his healing. This partly made up, partly true story will call into question one’s faith and the intersection between belief and bias.