About this item

New York Times science reporter Gina Kolata follows a family through genetic illness and one courageous daughter who decides her fate shall no longer be decided by a genetic flaw.

The phone rings. The doctor from California is on the line. "Are you ready Amanda?" The two people Amanda Baxley loves the most had begged her not to be tested -- at least, not now. But she had to find out.

If your family carried a mutated gene that foretold a brutal illness and you were offered the chance to find out if you'd inherited it, would you do it? Would you walk toward the problem, bravely accepting whatever answer came your way? Or would you avoid the potential bad news as long as possible?

In Mercies in Disguise, acclaimed New York Times science reporter and bestselling author Gina Kolata tells the story of the Baxleys, an almost archetypal family in a small town in South Carolina. A proud and determined clan, many of them doctors, they are struck one by one with an inscrutable illness. They finally discover the cause of the disease after a remarkable sequence of events that many saw as providential. Meanwhile, science, progressing for a half a century along a parallel track, had handed the Baxleys a resolution -- not a cure, but a blood test that would reveal who had the gene for the disease and who did not. And science would offer another dilemma -- fertility specialists had created a way to spare the children through an expensive process.

A work of narrative nonfiction, Mercies in Disguise is the story of a family that took matters into its own hands when the medical world abandoned them. It's a story of a family that had to deal with unspeakable tragedy and yet did not allow it to tear them apart. And it is the story of a young woman -- Amanda Baxley -- who faced the future head on, determined to find a way to disrupt her family's destiny.

About the Author

Gina Kolata

I'm a senior medical writer for the New York Times and the author of nine books and editor of three. I've given talks across the nation and in Europe and Asia and taught a science writing seminar at Princeton University. I have been on just about every major news and radio show including the morning news shows, Sixty Minutes, Charlie Rose, Steven Colbert, Fresh Air and most other NPR talk shows. I have won numerous prizes and was a Pulitzer finalist twice. And, strangely enough, I am also a Kentucky Colonel, like Colonel Sanders. But all that sounds like a resume, and what really matters of course is who am I and what motivates me and what do I care about? I like to think I am much more than my job, although my Times work is one of my passions. I have an incredible family and wonderful friends that I cherish. I love distance running - I've run five marathons - and road cycling. I knit and I cook. I love the ocean and cannot go through a summer without spending time at the beach. But my favorite seasons are summer and fall. I know, you think the next thing I will tell you is that I like pina coladas and walking in the rain. Actually, those are two things I do not like. But what I do like, what I turn to for sheer pleasure, is literary fiction. And when I decide to write a book, I latch onto the story. My books are meant to engage you, as they engage me. I want you to care about the narrative and the characters as much as I do. I want them to be page turners, but true, absolutely factual. And I want them to be rich with ethical and social issues so that you come away haunted by what you have just read.

Read Next Recommendation

Discuss with your friends

Report incorrect product information.