As a young mother facing a terminal diagnosis, Julie Yip-Williams began to write her story. What began as the chronicle of an imminent and early death became something much more—a powerful exhortation to the living.
... 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 ... It would be nearly impossible to read this book and not take [Yip-Williams's] exhortation seriously.
Yip-Williams writes with a savage honesty about the strains her illness and treatment imposed on her children and husband. She writes movingly of how she was torn by the wish to abandon the fight and find peace in accepting her death, and the feeling that this would be betraying her family ... [Yip-Williams's] writing has moments of wry wit ... This is not an easy book to read — not just because of the sad and inevitable conclusion, but also because it is difficult to write about the conclusions to be drawn from one’s impending death without sounding banal ... The impressively raw honesty of her howls of protest and pain, and her admission of her occasional failures as a wife and mother, are let down by the rather trite reflections elsewhere in the book on love and finding meaning in her suffering. The book is often repetitive and at times sounds too self-regarding. It desperately needs editing but, as the author’s health declines, this obviously becomes impossible. Once dead, respect for the deceased — in accordance with the age-old principle of de mortuis nisi sed bonum (of the dead, speak nothing but good) — lends the manuscript a degree of sanctity. This is a shame.
Poignant and compelling ... [Yip-Williams'] 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.