STARRED REVIEW
March 2018

A spiritual satire

By Jonathan Miles

Four years after a veteran of the war in Afghanistan was paralyzed by an IED explosion, he suddenly rises from his wheelchair in the parking lot of a Biloxi, Mississippi, convenience store—and that’s when Jonathan Miles’ smart exploration of everything from the excesses of American popular culture to the deepest aspects of religious belief roars to life.

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Four years after a veteran of the war in Afghanistan was paralyzed by an IED explosion, he suddenly rises from his wheelchair in the parking lot of a Biloxi, Mississippi, convenience store—and that’s when Jonathan Miles’ smart exploration of everything from the excesses of American popular culture to the deepest aspects of religious belief roars to life.

At first, former high school football star Cameron Harris’ seemingly miraculous recovery sparks bewilderment in his physician, which soon curdles into outright skepticism. And when Cameron and his sister, Tanya, become the stars of a reality TV show called “Miracle Man,” and a Vatican representative arrives to investigate the possibility that Cameron’s recovery may be the second miracle necessary to elevate a deceased archbishop to sainthood, the stakes grow impossibly higher.

As the need to explain Cameron’s sudden recovery becomes more intense, Miles gradually unwraps a secret that has the potential to upend the young man’s newfound celebrity. Whether it’s a terrifying firefight in the snowy mountains of Afghanistan or the fervor that swirls around the Biloxi convenience store as it’s transformed, with the spreading news of Cameron’s “miracle,” into a place that’s like “someone opened a Cracker Barrel at Lourdes,” the novel is a vivid portrait of our need to believe and its unintended consequences.

Miles (Dear American Airlines) cleverly disguises his new novel as a work of investigative reporting, even going so far as to thank his fictional creations in his acknowledgments. For all he does to make the book appear as a work of journalism, Miles doesn’t sacrifice his characters’ inner lives to the demands of his well-orchestrated plot. Anatomy of a Miracle is a thoughtful modern morality play that’s as current as the latest internet meme and as timeless as the foundations of faith.

 

This article was originally published in the March 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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Anatomy of a Miracle

Anatomy of a Miracle

By Jonathan Miles
Hogarth
ISBN 9780553447583

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