Daily Archives: June 13, 2019

Miracle Creek – Angie Kim

I received a copy of this book free on NetGalley

Miracle Creek – Angie Kim

40121959.jpgA literary courtroom drama about a Korean immigrant family and a young, single mother accused of murdering her eight-year-old autistic son

My husband asked me to lie. Not a big lie. He probably didn’t even consider it a lie, and neither did I, at first . . .

In the small town of Miracle Creek, Virginia, Young and Pak Yoo run an experimental medical treatment device known as the Miracle Submarine—a pressurized oxygen chamber that patients enter for therapeutic “dives” with the hopes of curing issues like autism or infertility. But when the Miracle Submarine mysteriously explodes, killing two people, a dramatic murder trial upends the Yoos’ small community.

Who or what caused the explosion? Was it the mother of one of the patients, who claimed to be sick that day but was smoking down by the creek? Or was it Young and Pak themselves, hoping to cash in on a big insurance payment and send their daughter to college? The ensuing trial uncovers unimaginable secrets from that night—trysts in the woods, mysterious notes, child-abuse charges—as well as tense rivalries and alliances among a group of people driven to extraordinary degrees of desperation and sacrifice.

Angie Kim’s Miracle Creek is a thoroughly contemporary take on the courtroom drama, drawing on the author’s own life as a Korean immigrant, former trial lawyer, and mother of a real-life “submarine” patient. An addictive debut novel for fans of Liane Moriarty and Celeste Ng, Miracle Creek is both a twisty page-turner and a deeply moving story about the way inconsequential lies and secrets can add up—with tragic consequences.

I really enjoyed this multi faceted, multi layered book. Told over the four days of a trial, with flashbacks to a year previously, the story unfolds of a terrible fire in a submarine which left two people dead and several with life changing injuries. The primary viewpoint we see in the book is that of Young, wife of the owner of the submarine, who was left paralysed by the accident. But was it an accident? As the book unfolds, it turns out there was far more going on that evening at miracle creek than anyone could have guessed. Clandestine meetings, life changing decisions, fraud, bonbon eating, protesting… layers and layers of intrigue unfold as Young discovers more and more about the night that changed the lives of many,
While at the heart of this book is a mystery and a murder trial, trying to discover who set the fire, what surrounds it is a collection of very human stories. The Korean immigrant family trying to make a life for themselves in America take centre stage, but around them are a cast of others. Matt and Janine, a mixed marriage, and the difficulties they face together. The patients in the miracle submarine, and their children, the lives they lead, the special needs of those children, and the varying challenges that parenting a disabled child present, as well as how these can impact on your own life. The friendship between Elizabeth and Kitt, and how it changed over the time they were forced to spend together, and the impact of competitive parenting, visible in all spectrums of life. And Mary. Brought to the states as a child, now a teenager,, straddling the lines of the American dream and her Korean heritage, childhood and adulthood. Dealing with strained relationships with her parents and the aching need to be more grown up than the way they see you. All of these complex, nuanced relationships are so well drawn and so absolutely compelling. There is quite a large cast of characters in this book, but none of them feel under drawn. Although there are certainly some I would have liked to hear from, like Kitt, I can understand and respect the decisions of the author. Angie Kim is a Korean immigrant herself, and her understanding of the impact this can have on families shines clearly through the book. Mary’s choice of language, disparaging reaction to her mother, and even changing of her name, all feel like there is real weight of experience and knowledge behind them. The narrative twists and turns, and I was constantly changing my mind about who had set the fire. Thoroughly enjoyable, and entirely compelling, Miracle Creek is a legal process, a forensic examination of family, friends, the bonds that tie us together, and the threads that weave the rich, complex tapestry of life.

Four Stars
****

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