Saturday, June 15, 2019

Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

Title: Miracle Creek
Author: Angie Kim
Publisher: Sarah Crichton Books
Release Date: April 16th, 2019

A 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.

It has been a few days since I finished reading Miracle Creek. While I was reading it, I could only imagine how good this book will be as a movie. 

I usually don't like court dramas but I think Angie Kim did her best work by delivering us the lies and the truth through the characters on the stand and in the courtroom.

Miracle Creek tells us the story of the death of an autistic child during a hyperbaric oxygen treatment or "dive" caused by a fire in August of 2008. A year later, Elizabeth, the mother is on trial and if found guilty, she could receive the death penalty. 

Through four days of the trial and the voices of the Yoo's (Young (mother), Pak (father) and Mary (teenage daughter)) Matt Thompson and his wife, Janine Cho, and Teresa Santiago, Angie Kim begins presenting to us the true events that happened the night of the fire. Was Elizabeth the only one with a reason for arson or does anyone else who was there that night have a motive too? The list of suspects starts to elongate as the narrative continues. 

Personally, I've referred patients to be evaluated for hyperbaric oxygen to treat nonhealing wounds or second/third-degree burns but I didn't realize it was being used for autism or infertility. My knowledge of it has always been in a hospital setting, so I was quite surprised that the Yoo's had an HBOT in a regular neighborhood. All kinds of medical error scenarios popped through my mind while I was reading it but the truth was so much worse.

Miracle Creek is not your usual debut novel. The descriptions, character development and suspense were done as masterful as a seasoned writer. Angie Kim's novel inserts pieces of humanity at its worse but we also get -or at least I did- the sense of hope. Some of the characters decisions made me nauseous by their omissions and lies. Some infuriated me. One, I disliked tremendously. 

As a fiction reader, I can't recommend enough Miracle Creek. If you heard the audio which I did for the majority of it, the narrator does an amazing job. At the end of the audio, there is an interview with Angie Kim where she mentions her own experience with immigration, becoming a lawyer and HBOT treatment for one of her children. The music done by her son is perfect for the audio too.

Cliffhanger: No

4.5/5 Fangs

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