W&C: Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

Miracle Creek gripped me. I tore through its pages in just a few days. When I got to the acknowledgements and read that this was Kim’s first novel, I was shocked.

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 rural Virginia town of Miracle Creek, 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 chamber 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 twisty page-turner and an excavation of identity and the desire for connection, Miracle Creek is a ravishing debut by a major new writer.

Each character is so believable and human. You’re left a little confused about how you should feel about the Pak family and many of the characters that were pulled into their lives. And at the same time, you’re so satisfied because the truth, while jarring and little too-much-to-be-true, still feels right. Altogether, each character contributes to a story that is so real and so fascinating.

Every turn is executed perfectly. Every twist is placed delicately. The end is wrapped up well without disrupting the book’s rhythm or leaving holes unfilled.

This is a phenomenal debut for Angie Kim. Kim’s style is lyrical – absolutely beautiful – even when telling a tough and tragic story. Every time I closed it, I immediately wanted to pick it back up again.

Photo and synopsis from angiekimbooks.com

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