*I received a free ARC of this book with thanks to the author, NetGalley and Hodder & Stoughton. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: A thrilling debut novel for fans of Liane Moriarty and Celeste Ng about how far we’ll go to protect our families – and our deepest secrets.
In rural Virginia, Young and Pak Yoo run an experimental medical treatment device known as the Miracle Submarine – a pressurised oxygen chamber that patients enter for “dives”, used as an alternative therapy for conditions including autism and 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. Both a compelling page-turner and an excavation of identity and the desire for connection, Miracle Creek is a brilliant, empathetic debut from an exciting new voice.
Miracle Creek is a legal thriller, in terms of the plot set-up and concept, but a story about people and their limits at its heart.
The reader is introduced to a small number of parents and children; husbands and wives; patients and practitioners, as they struggle with the aftermath of a terrible tragedy, but also as they struggle with their pre-tragedy lives. The author explores the consequences of our smallest decisions and how tiny split-second choices can lead to unpredictable outcomes.
The story switches between the events leading up to the explosion at the Miracle Submarine facility and the legal proceedings afterwards but, by cleverly skipping between viewpoints and depicting the events filtered through the perceptions and biases of the characters, the author keeps the reader in the dark as to what truly happened, right up until the end of the story.
I found the depictions of parenting particularly poignant and realistic: these parents do their best for their children, without always knowing what that is; sometimes they feel trapped by parenthood; sometimes they delight in it; sometimes they wish their lives – or their children – were different, and mostly they love their children fiercely… even as they let them down. There is a particular focus on the parenting of children with additional needs, but the author also covers infertility and the parenting of a neurotypical teen.
Another huge themes is that of isolation: seen through the lens of immigration, and also through the lens of parenting a child with additional needs. We see how painfully hard it is to live in a country where you don’t speak the language or understand the cultural norms, and also how terribly difficult it can be when it is your child that is unable to ‘speak the language’ or follow those same norms.
Miracle Creek is a compelling who- and why-dunnit of a legal thriller, but also a deeply heart-wrenching story about people, the mistakes they make, and how they live with them.
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. It was such a small thing, what he wanted. The police had just released the protesters, and while he stepped out to make sure they weren’t coming back, I was to sit in his chair. Cover for him, the way coworkers do as a matter of course, the way we ourselves used to at the grocery store, while I ate or he smoked. But as I took his seat, I bumped against the desk, and the certificate above it went slightly crooked as if to remind me that this wasn’t a regular business, that there was a reason he’d never left me in charge before.
– Angie Kim, Miracle Creek
Miracle Creek is available on Amazon right now!