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Miracle Creek

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How far will you go to protect your family? Will you keep their secrets? Ignore their lies?

In a small town in Virginia, a group of people know each other because they’re part of a special treatment center, a hyperbaric chamber that may cure a range of conditions from infertility to autism. But then the chamber explodes, two people die, and it’s clear the explosion wasn’t an accident.

A showdown unfolds as the story moves across characters who are all maybe keeping secrets, hiding betrayals. Was it the careless mother of a patient? Was it the owners, hoping to cash in on a big insurance payment and send their daughter to college? Could it have been a protester, trying to prove the treatment isn’t safe?

355 pages, Hardcover

First published April 16, 2019

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About the author

Angie Kim moved as a preteen from Seoul, South Korea, to the suburbs of Baltimore. After graduating from Interlochen Arts Academy, she studied philosophy at Stanford University and attended Harvard Law School, where she was an editor of the Harvard Law Review. Her debut novel, Miracle Creek, won the Edgar Award, the ITW Thriller Award, the Strand Critics’ Award, and the Pinckley Prize and was named one of the best books of the year by Time, The Washington Post, Kirkus, and the Today show. One of Variety Magazine’s inaugural “10 Storytellers to Watch,” Angie has written for The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, Vogue, Glamour, and numerous literary journals. She lives in northern Virginia with her family. Happiness Falls is her second novel.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 8,417 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,964 reviews294k followers
April 17, 2019
Or perhaps the newspapers were right. Perhaps Elizabeth had been desperate to get rid of her son, and now that he was dead, she finally had a measure of peace. Perhaps she had been a monster all along.

I had to take some time away to really process this book. It wasn't easy. Miracle Creek absolutely ripped my heart out. It's a fantastic, utterly thrilling courtroom drama; it's a mystery, perhaps a murder mystery; and alongside these things, it's also a powerful character study that examines immigration, parenthood, grief, disability and caregiving.

The trial and the mystery are the compelling backdrop here, but this book explores so many things that it's hard to know where to begin describing it.

It's now a year since the night that took two lives and injured several others. Elizabeth, the single mother of one of the victims, is on trial for murder. On the night in question, she dropped her son off for his HBOT treatment and purportedly left to drink wine and smoke cigarettes nearby-- the same cigarettes responsible for the blast that killed her son while she was absent.

HBOT was new to me. It's a kind of oxygen treatment said to improve everything from male infertility to autism, and the author has personal experience with it. Elizabeth's son was on the autism spectrum and, as we soon see, the pressure of looking after him was pushing her to the edge. Whether it was enough for her to murder her son, though, is the real question. The more we learn, the less implausible it sounds.
Having a special-needs child didn’t just change you; it transmuted you, transported you to a parallel world with an altered gravitational axis.

But there are many other characters in this book and they all play an important role. The third person narration moves through each of their perspectives, filling in the night in question, piece by piece. Each person is fleshed-out and flawed. Kim explores them all in depth, creating so many intimate portraits that all come together to form a bigger picture.

The HBOT facility was started by Pak and Young Yoo. As Korean immigrants, they have had to struggle with the dismissal of their business as silly "Eastern medicine", and with being forced apart when Young and their daughter first came to the United States without Pak. I was especially moved by the discussions about language barriers. Pak is a smart and eloquent man in his native language, but he suffers the indignity of appearing unintelligent in his broken, accented English:
Pak Yoo was a different person in English than in Korean. In a way, he supposed, it was inevitable for immigrants to become child versions of themselves, stripped of their verbal fluency and, with it, a layer of their competence and maturity.

Another interesting discussion was that about the "fetishization" of Asian women. Janine really struggles with her feelings about it. On the one hand, she thinks it is a potential problem, but she also wonders why men who have a preference for blondes do not get accused of having a “fetish”. Why, she wonders, are Asian women portrayed as something perverse?

I think I could write my own book about all the avenues this fascinating book goes down. I haven't even said anything about the in-depth look at parenting and parental sacrifice. But I should stop before this review becomes ridiculously long.

The final way I will summarize Miracle Creek is that it's a book about so many interesting characters who all want the best for their family, but grind themselves into the ground in the process - Elizabeth driven to the edge by parenting an autistic child, Pak the lonely “goose father” who wants the best for his family, Young who worked such long hours that she alienated her daughter, and there are others too.

I found it such a beautiful and sad literary mystery.

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Profile Image for chai ♡.
321 reviews153k followers
August 15, 2022
Bracingly original and incredibly compulsive, Miracle Creek is a welcome rescue in a sea of murder mysteries.

The Yoos, an immigrant family from Korea, conduct hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) sessions (or “dives”) in a pressurized, submarine-like chamber that is believed to be effective in remediating a wide range of conditions, including autism, cerebral palsy, and infertility. When a fire breaks out near the oxygen tanks during a treatment session, leaving two patients dead and others paralyzed or permanently scarred, everyone’s grief is inarticulate, still entangled in their shock. A year later, the Yoo family must testify against Elizabeth Ward who is accused of orchestrating the fatal explosion to kill her son, Henry, who’s been undergoing HBOT to treat his autism. Speculation and rumor race down every corridor, and soon, shocking secrets fill the courtroom, thinning the air until nobody can breathe.

There are so many elements to appreciate about this novel, but the most remarkable one is the deftness with which Angie Kim manipulates the reader's sympathies and anticipation. The story is told by eyewitnesses whose reliability is problematic. Told in first-person narration, the novel immerses the readers in each character's mind before expanding or completely refuting their account with that of another character in the next chapter. As a result, the reader's allegiance shifts too quickly to track: who is telling the truth when everyone is advocating so convincingly for themselves?

As for its thematic notes, Miracle Creek is, in many ways, an interrogation of the notions of choice an consequence, but the novel is just as much about immigrant identity, family, belonging, and the sprawling lengths a parent is willing to go in order to protect their child. There is also a strong vein in the novel that indicts the fetishizaton of Asian women. “Who decided it was normal to be attracted to blondes and Jews and Republicans, but not to Asian women?” writes Kim, “Why was “fetish,” with its connotation of sexual deviance, reserved for Asian women?

All in all, this was a highly engaging read, and I'm excited to read what Angie Kim writes next.
Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,440 reviews78.1k followers
October 11, 2022
"But that was the way life worked. Every human being was the result of a million different factors mixing together... Good things and bad-every friendship and romance formed, every accident, every illness-resulted from the conspiracy of hundreds of little things, in and of themselves inconsequential."

Oh boy. Where do I begin? It's quite possible that this book means so much to me because it's my unicorn-the perfect fit for this reader-and that may make my review a bit biased, so please keep that in mind as you delve into my thoughts below. Miracle Creek is a novel so precisely tailored to my wants and needs as a reader, I was left pondering just how the author crawled into my brain and extracted such specific thoughts and needs before placing them in her tale. Full disclosure-I almost missed this book, and likely wouldn't have picked it up if it hadn't been for Emily May's recommendation. I was worried it would be too difficult for me to read, but I'm glad I tossed those notions aside, because feeling this wide spectrum of emotion was a needed exercise in facing some of my own issues and embarking on a journey of healing and acceptance.

Please know going in that this is not an easy read. It is disturbing at times, but in a natural way and not done for shock value. Miracle Creek is an emotional rollercoaster, and I cannot imagine you, reader, not being moved by this story if you are indeed a human being. There are some timely topics discussed that are difficult to read, but Ms. Kim has touched on these in such a delicate, respectful, and honorable way that it takes some of the sting away and replaces it with a softer approach. I really don't want to discuss the plot in deep detail here, as this is a literary courtroom novel and you'll want to find out all the juicy details on your own, but this is just as much a profound study on grief and the ripple effects of a few rash choices that spiral out of control.

"It was ironic-of all the parents of their patients, Elizabeth had been the most disheveled, and yet she'd had by far the most manageable child. Henry, her only child, had been a well-mannered boy who, unlike many other patients, could walk, talk, was toilet-trained, and didn't have tantrums. During orientation, when the mother of twins with autism and epilepsy asked Elizabeth, "Sorry, but what's Henry here for? He seems so normal," she'd frowned as if offended. She recited a list-OCD, ADHD, sensory and autism spectrum disorders, anxiety-then said how hard it was, spending all her days researching experimental treatments. She seemed to have no clue how she sounded complaining while surrounded by kids with wheelchairs and feeding tubes."

And, cue the sobbing once again. This won't likely be a popular opinion, and for those of you who have already read the book, I hope you don't think less of me, but I related to Elizabeth so much and felt a deep sorrow well up inside of me for who she could have been, and for how her story played out. You see, I have been almost precisely in her shoes. My 6 year old daughter was diagnosed with autism spectrum and sensory disorders, OCD, and generalized anxiety at the age of 3. The doctors have been preparing us for years for the likelihood of an ADHD diagnosis in a few years, as it goes hand in hand with her particular side of the spectrum. She has asthma, moderate stomach issues, and I'll be damned if I haven't spent years of my life trying to find ways to alleviate those symptoms for her. Please do not misunderstand, the idea behind this book and my own thoughts are not to "cure" autism; the point here is that the pressurized dives were a means of treatment of unwanted symptoms, not unlike any other form of therapy.

I'm ashamed to admit that, in the darkest of days, I have thought and spoken things into the empty void that I would never truly mean, but fortunately for me, I have a strong, loving, and caring support system that holds me together when I cannot hold myself up. I wanted to dip into this book, reach out, and hold Elizabeth. I wanted to comfort her and tell her that her child's needs were valid, even when other parents told her that her child was too "normal" and undeserving of receiving the therapies. I wanted her to know that it was ok to have those dark moments, because we are all human. But this was also a beautiful wake-up call, reminding me to live in the moment and appreciate all that my beautiful McKenna brings to our family. It was an endearing and heart-wrenching reminder that, if I ever lost our joy baby, that my life would essentially cease to exist. I could never survive if that bright light was extinguished from my life, and it hit me like a ton of bricks at how desperately we need to live each day to the fullest, and how grateful and privileged I am to be entrusted as a care giver to this incredibly gifted, loving, and special child.

I could go on and on about this book, but I won't. Between the setting, although containing a fictional town in Virginia was set geographically within miles of my home, the deep, relatable characters, and a riveting plot that kept me glued from beginning to end, I cannot recommend Miracle Creek highly enough. I'm going ahead and calling it now-this will be THE debut novel of 2019, and I'm not just saying that because it was tailored so perfectly to my every whim. Do yourself a favor and pick this one up the moment you can get your hands on it. If you're a BOTM member, make this your April selection!

*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my review copy via NetGalley.
Profile Image for Yun.
513 reviews20k followers
April 21, 2022
Miracle Creek is so raw and visceral in its tackling of people, their emotions, and all their flaws. It was hard to look away from this story, but at times, even harder to continue.

A small group of people are seeking an experimental treatment when the unthinkable happens—an explosion kills two and injures several. The mother of one of the dead is accused of killing her autistic son and is charged with murder. What follows is the four-day trial through the eyes of each person involved.

Right from the start, this story grabbed me. There is something in here for everyone. If you're an immigrant, you will understand the Yoos' relentless drive to create a better life for their daughter in America. If you are or have ever been a teenager, you will see yourself in Mary's urge to gain independence and become her own person. And if you're a parent, you will sympathize with all the agonizing decisions parents have to make for their children.

To me, one of the most interesting and well-done parts of this book is its exploration of morality. Given hard choices, what would you do? Do you step up and do the right thing, or do you hang back and take the easy road? What about when those choices affect the people you love the most?

To be honest, this book is so blunt and brutal in its portrayal of people that it was hard for me to keep reading at times. The characters felt so real, too real for just a book, and their problems hit close to home. Some of them are seriously flawed, and to read about the lies and deceit they carried out, which then led to even more lies, was really difficult. I had to take several breaks throughout because it felt so intensely uncomfortable.

This book encompasses so much in so little space. On the surface, it's a murder trial to find out if the defendant is innocent or guilty and what really happened the night of the explosion. But underneath, it's an unflinching look at human nature, with all of its ugliness and cowardliness, but there is also bravery and hope. It's a book guaranteed to leave you with more to think about than when you went in.
Profile Image for Felicia.
254 reviews931 followers
June 14, 2019

This book. OMG THIS BOOK.




FUCK THIS BOOK for keeping me awake for 3 nights in a row.

FUCK THIS BOOK for giving me palpitations.

FUCK THIS BOOK for making me swallow my words when I said I wasn't a fan of courtroom dramas.

FUCK THIS BOOK for claiming the top spot on my Book of the Year list so that there is really no reason to read another.

FUCK ALL OF Y'ALL for pressuring me to read this FUCKING BOOK with your TOTALLY FUCKING DESERVED PRAISE.


I can't even post my review of this FUCKING BOOK on Amazon because FUCK.



Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,203 reviews40.8k followers
May 1, 2020
5 billion heart wrenching, epic, poignant stars!
How far you go to protect your children’s lives?Can you dedicate your whole life for their well being? Is it fair to push them so hard for their treatment?
There are so many questions make you rethink your principles of your life as you read this book.
Elizabeth is accused to kill her own child. Young witnesses her own child slowly vanishes from her arms and turns into a stranger. Teresa does everything for well being of her child but she’s at the edge of losing of her own well-being.
Different mothers from different backgrounds, with different perceptions, motives. Only common thing about them is their love to their children.
This is so fast paced, riveting, argumentative, engrossing book about the web of lies around fire which brings out hidden truths of the different families.
Emotional and shocking ending rips your heart. It’s juggling different issues as like adaptation problems of immigrants in a new country, legalization of new treatment techniques for special needs children, mothers’ devoted loves for their children which are perfectly combined and meticulously described.
It’s effective, emotional book makes you think and see different sides of stories before judging people’s actions.
Different, smart and totally learning experience !
Profile Image for Melissa.
647 reviews28.6k followers
July 5, 2019
More than just a mystery or courtroom drama, Angie Kim’s debut reaches deep, capturing the hearts and minds of readers with its humanistic approach to life and self. Well-written and emotionally charged, Miracle Creek is a harrowing tale sure to resonate with readers of all backgrounds, parent or not. Through a diverse cast of characters, Kim examines the lofty expectations, sacrifices, and social ideals that shape the lives we come to lead. And, arguably more important, the strength it takes to allow your voice to hit an octave higher than any of the distracting background noise.

It’s a gamble picking up a book that’s received as much attention as this one. Fair or not, in my life, market saturation, and utter feed domination often perpetuate disappointment. As much as our expectations lead us to believe we’re about to embark on something stellar, those unreachable heights of literary greatness don’t come to fruition often enough. Although surprisingly, in this instance, the praise is much deserved. Miracle Creek has a momentous air almost immediately.

Kim draws readers in with the introduction of the Yoos, a couple that left behind the very essence of who they were and the culture of Seoul for life in Virginia. All in the hopes of providing their teenage daughter with the best opportunities. They found an investor, opened a small hyperbaric treatment center in the heart of the Miracle Creek woods, and chose to grind it out until they found success. For many of their patients and the parents, the “deep dives” offered hope for healing. Until one summer night when a fire destroys everything, claiming two lives and forcing hard truths to the surface.

The bulk of the novel unfolds over a few days, as the woman charged with setting that fateful fire faces a jury. Elizabeth's been accused of planning and executing the unthinkable, intentionally killing her young autistic son and the mother of another special needs child. As each witness brings their memories of that evening to the stand, suspicion and doubt run rampant.

One of the biggest successes here, in my opinion, is the myriad of feelings the parents within these pages inspire. The level of strength and willingness they exuded in their plight to give their children health and happiness is impressive. And, lending even more heart, the realization that they were often doing so amidst unwarranted outside judgment and in favor of their own base needs. Things that naturally segued the conversation into the fruitless quest for perfection some of us find ourselves on and the resentments that tend to tiptoe into a room and inhabit the shadows. As we all come to learn, life is much messier than we like to lay it out to be in our minds. But that's what it means to be human—living, breathing and experiencing things authentically. Pretty or not.

So if a tiny part of us had these thoughts a tiny part of the time, thoughts we shut out as soon as they creep in, is that so bad? Isn’t that just human?

The characters of Miracle Creek repeatedly hit the high notes with the emotionality of their situations, but they also provide a steady beat of suspense. Their varying motives, and suspicious behavior, combined with the multitude of things taken out of context, make for an unexpected journey.

The strength of Kim's storytelling certainly sets the stage for great things to come.

*Thank you to the FCPL for the borrowed copy.
Profile Image for MarilynW.
1,114 reviews2,807 followers
July 29, 2021
Updated on 7/19/2021 Below on what should be post 11 is a link to an article the author wrote that details her son's experience with hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Thank you to Teresa for pointing out this article.

Miracle Creek, by Angie Kim, was a book that I didn't want to put down because the author made me care about these people who are nothing like me. It's the story of Korean immigrants, Young and Pak Yoo, who run the Miracle Submarine, a pressurized oxygen chamber that is used by young patients with a variety of health issues. It's also being used, unwillingly, by an adult doctor, Matt, whose Korean wife railroads him into being the first adult to go through the treatments, in an effort to cure his infertility. Although there are other treatments each day, the book focuses on a group that is undergoing twice a day treatments, for 40 days.

One of the patients is Henry, an 8 year old autistic boy, son of Elizabeth, who has tailored very hour of their day, full of treatments, therapies, camp, and very restrictive eating and sensory input, to give her son the best chance of being a "normal' boy. When there is a fire that kills Henry and Kitt, the mother of TJ, and severely injures Matt and Mary, the daughter of Young and Pak Yoo, Elizabeth is charged with the crime of starting the fire and murdering Henry and Kitt. Pak loses the use of his legs as he run in and out of the chamber, trying to save the lives of all the people under his care, people who he feels he is responsible for and is willing to give his life to save.

This book is about lies, big lies, little lies, and the belief that it's ok to lie because telling the truth can't bring back the dead, that maybe the person accused of murder might not have murdered anyone but she had thoughts of wishing her son dead at times, as might other full time caretakers, with no relief in sight from care taking a helpless "forever" child that will outlive them. Even though each of the characters had secrets, most of them also had my sympathy. The Yoos were weighed down by traditions from their homeland that didn't allow them to "discuss" things with each other, that kept them trying to protect the pride of the father, even though some of those archaic ways caused the daughter to dislike her mother for not fighting against those traditions.

The many lies of the story started long before the day of the fire and so many of the people involved, once they start telling tiny bits of the truth, continue to lie, hold back information, allowing others to believe things that are false. A large part of the book is in the courtroom and I really enjoyed the courtroom drama. Both lawyers are willing to do anything to either get their client acquitted or get the accused convicted, even if they find out or know truths that make what they are doing extremely wrong and unethical. At any time, many of the characters could have told what they knew and turned the entire case around, inside out, and shed light on what really happened but they didn't, even when they had moments where telling the truth would have been the easiest thing to do.

The hardships that the Yoos endure in the years before they begin their chamber business are overwhelming but even once they are together again, after years of being apart while waiting for their family visa, the family is not happy. The mothers of the children using the chamber had a lifetime of hardship ahead of them and each mother fights with the guilt of sometimes wishing they could have a minute to themselves, dreaming of a 'normal' life, a life so many of us take for granted because we aren't full time caretakers, for life. There seems to be no relief in sight for most of these people and it's clear that once this is all "over", that no one will really be able to let go of the fact that they lied...their lies will always be with them.

As we meet the various people involved in what happened that day and as we go through the trial, we are flooded with the extent of the lies that have led to the fire. So many things had to come together to allow the fire to happen and any one of those things could have happened differently or not at all and then this tragedy would not have happened. In the end, this book is about facing ones role in what has happened, acknowledging one’s part in the tragedy, big or little, taking responsibility in how we hurt others even if we did not mean to at the time and how we continue to hurt others by holding back the truth.

So much that happened, could never be "fixed" but I do like how the story is handled at the end. I think the ending has a realness to it that we sometimes don't find in crime stories. The ending doesn't make what happened disappear but instead plays out in a realistic way that allows the characters of the book to make amends and have room to breathe in a life that could seem unbearable otherwise. I can see a way for these people to heal and move on, even if they never forget the past and even though their lives are changed forever.

Published April 16th 2019

Thank you to Farrar, Straus and Giroux and NetGalley for this Advance Read Copy.
Profile Image for Paromjit.
2,606 reviews24.8k followers
June 13, 2019
Angie Kim's literary courtroom drama is a phenomenal debut about the demands and challenges of being a parent of a child on the autistic spectrum or is disabled, about marriage, about being Korean and the transitional pains of being an immigrant in the US, about family, and about how far you will go to protect your child. In the small town of Miracle Creek in Virginia, Pak and Young Yoo run an experimental treatment, the Miracle Submarine, a pressurised oxygen chamber where patients take 'dives', in the desperate hopes of alleviating autism, disability and infertily issues. In 2016, the Miracle Submarine explodes, killing Elizabeth Ward’s son, Henry and a mother, Kitt, and which resulted in the Yoo's daughter, Mary, spending months in a coma and leaving Pak paralysed. It is now 2017, and the trial of Elizabeth opens, charged with the murders, being prosecuted by Abe Patterly, and reviled by an entire town. As the trial progresses, secrets, lies, tensions and rivalries are exposed as the reader learns of the litany of actions, small and others more significant, all of which play their role in the subsequent horrors of the tragedy.

Kim excels in characterisation, for example with the Yoo family, in providing the details of everyday life of being a Korean immigrant, the sacrifices, the cultural differences, the poverty, the difficulties of trying to fit in, the pain, working long hours, the racism, the bullying, and the cracks that appear between a parent and their beloved child. As most parents will attest, it is not easy bringing up children, it can often result in wanting to tear your hair out, and saying things in the heat of the moment that you do not mean. It is common for parents in a group to engage in competitive exchanges of how their child is doing so much better, actions that often breed resentment, envy and jealousy amongst other parents. We are given painful insights into how this dismal practice is replicated, along with making judgements, amongst parents of children with special needs, parents often pushed to the edge with the greater drain of energy and frustrations, whose entire life and every minute of the day is predicated on meeting the needs and challenges of their child. It is barely surprising that providing such care takes its toll on their mental health and their very human responses to the situation they find themselves in.

There is a dark and oppressive feel to the narrative, the unfolding of the lives of the Yoo family and those who used their 'medical' facility, including a doctor experiencing fertility issues and marital problems, the guilt, repercussions of the explosion, physical and emotional, the struggle to come to terms with what happened. Then there is the guilt of the parent, magnified out of all proportions when it comes to having a autistic or disabled child, with outsiders feeling free to express their opinions, or going even further as with the protesters at the site. The highlight of Kim's superb novel for me is the way in which she delineates how the actions of a diverse range of characters and serendipity all play their part in what happens. A wonderfully thought provoking read with a bleak and unsettling narrative, that drives inexorably to the point where all is revealed. Many thanks to Hodder and Stoughton for an ARC.
Profile Image for Emily (Books with Emily Fox).
531 reviews58.6k followers
July 15, 2019
Celeste Ng fans, you need to pick this up!

After the explosion of the experimental medical treatment device that killed 2 people, a trial shakes a small community.

This book follows a Korean immigrant family, the accused mother of an autistic child that died during the tragedy and other people present during the event.

This mystery is more of a "slice of life" contemporary where you discover everyone's secrets as you figure out what really happened.

If you enjoyed the writing of Little Fires Everywhere or Everything I Never Told You, this debut author should be added to your TBR.

Would recommend!
Profile Image for jessica.
2,535 reviews32.6k followers
August 21, 2019
wow wow wow wow wow. this novel is phenomenally gripping in every way possible. there is absolutely no doubt in my mind as to why this is getting so much hype, and deservedly so.

i hate to be one of those people that liken authors to each other (because every author is their own person, with their own talents), but this novel is very reminiscent of the storytelling of celeste ng, jodi picoult, and liane moriarty. with skilled execution of tangled family secrets, emotionally compelling portrayal of caring for those with disabilities, and examining cultural differences and immigration, this novel is so much more than just a courtroom drama.

yes, that is what originally drew me to this story. courtroom dramas are something i am very easily becoming obsessed with. but i cant even begin to describe how expertly crafted each layer of this story is. its a work of art, of humanity, of mystery. i honestly have no idea how so much feeling can be packed into one story and yet be so precise.

i have never been more excited for an authors second book because, after this, i know its going to be something truly remarkable.

5 stars
Profile Image for Deanna .
665 reviews12.4k followers
July 4, 2019

My reviews can also be seen at: https://deesradreadsandreviews.wordpr...

4.5 Stars!!

I REALLY enjoyed this audiobook. I read quite a few positive reviews and I was really intrigued. I couldn’t decide whether to read the book or listen but it popped up on Audible one day so I thought I would give it a try.

I’m really glad I did.

This interesting story gripped me right from the start. I’ve read quite a few courtroom dramas and sometimes they can really drag on, but I didn’t find that with “Miracle Creek”. At times it was emotional and uncomfortable but it had me hooked! I was constantly wondering what I would do if I was in any of these characters positions.

This was another book that had me Googling. I was really interested in learning more about pressurized oxygen chambers and hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

I thought this was a really unique, thought-provoking, and engaging read. Others have mentioned that this would make a good book club read and I agree. So much to talk about!

This was a terrific debut novel and I’m really looking forward to more from Angie Kim!
Profile Image for Meredith (Slowly Catching Up).
794 reviews12.4k followers
May 20, 2019
4.5 stars

Lies, lies, and more lies lead to tragedy in Miracle Creek.

An experimental form of treatment for autism, cerebral palsy, and infertility leads to a horrific crime that results in the death of a mother and a child. One woman is on trial for murder--one of the victims was her son. She may or may not be guilty of committing this horrific crime.

Miracle Creek presents multiple perspectives from those who were part of the tragedy. All of them have secrets. All of them are lying. Is the right person on trial?

Miracle Creek takes the reader inside the minds of those who witnessed the tragic event. Kim has a knack for characterization--I was caught up in all of these characters minds, learning their inner thoughts, darkest secrets, and biggest lies. The POV switches chapter to chapter, character to character. With each shift in the change of narrative, I was shifting my perspective on who was guilty. While there are multiple POV's, the transitions are smooth. All of the characters are well- developed, complex and nuanced. Being immersed in their minds creates an emotional reading experience. By the end, I felt like I knew them all.

This is a powerful and provocative read that explores family dynamics, marriage, parenthood, and otherness through the lens of a mystery that plays out in a courtroom drama. Most significantly, it opens a thought-provoking dialogue about judging those who are different and don’t fit the norms of American society.
Profile Image for j e w e l s.
309 reviews2,373 followers
April 25, 2019

Angie Kim has done the impossible. In one book, she offers something for EVERYONE. If you love to read literary fiction, mystery, women's issues, immigrant stories, or courtroom dramas--please, do yourself a favor and read MIRACLE CREEK. I will be thinking about this one for a long time.

There are so many themes in this sparkling novel, I don't know where to begin. If you've read Big Little Lies or Everything I Never Told You---then you know what I'm talking about! The family relationships, the secrets and betrayals...mothers and children, guilt, love and sense of duty..all these things are explored in MIRACLE CREEK.

I love the compelling and clever way in which the story is told: from an unfolding trial. BRILLIANT. I wonder why more mysteries aren't told in this manner? The constant thought running in my head: my gosh, this will make a terrific movie!

I also listened to the audio book as I read along with my Kindle. My favorite, lazy way to read anything! The narrator is absolutely amazing--I highly recommend the audio if you are looking for a juicy one to sink in your ears .

Thanks as always to Netgalley and the author for allowing me to read and review the advanced galley. All opinions are strictly mine.
Profile Image for Julie .
4,030 reviews58.9k followers
March 17, 2020
Miracle Creek by Angie Kim is a 2019 Sarah Crichton Books publication.

Fantastic! Lived up to the hype

Everyone knows I love a good courtroom drama, so this book was highly recommended to me by some of my GRs peers. But, try as I might, the book just wasn’t calling out to me when it was first released. So, I waited for the right mood, and I think my instincts paid off this time.

In a small Virginia town, a Korean couple have set up a Hyperbaric chamber on their land, which draws in a group of eclectic people, all hoping to find relief from conditions ranging from autism to infertility. However, some people are adamantly opposed to this controversial treatment for children with autism, and have begun protesting.

Then, a tragic explosion leaves two people dead, and severely injures several others, leaving many lingering questions behind.

Was it an accident or was it deliberate? Was it one of the protestors or a member of the group participating in the chamber treatment?

As the investigation proceeds, the mother of an autistic boy is singled out as the prime suspect. Did she, with malice aforethought, set out to murder her own child? There is strong circumstantial evidence that she did, but as the trial begins, the situation leading up to the explosion is revealed, exposing a plethora of secrets, coverups, lies, and agonizing guilt, providing more than ample reasonable doubt in the reader's mind. Is the right person on trial?

The premise of this book is a bit unusual, at least in the beginning. I have heard of the hyperbaric chamber, or something like it, probably from some medical drama on television, but I didn’t know its official name or what all it was used for.

Apparently, it is used for numerous health issues ranging from anemia to vision loss, but is questionable when it comes to certain other conditions. Interesting. I learn something new every time I read a book!

The downside, of course, was the uptick in the number of characters I had to keep track of. Again, I found myself reading slower to make sure I was understanding everything that was going on. I listened to portions of this book on audio as well, and thought it was very well done considering the amount of characters involved.

It feels like I have been waiting for decades for a riveting courtroom drama. The well is so dry, I soaked this one up like a sponge! As popular as this book became, I hoped it would prompt a legal thriller comeback- just so long as it didn’t turn into a ‘trend’ or oversaturation. (Doesn’t anyone know how to practice moderation?)

However, this story goes much deeper than the murder trial. It also takes a hard look at what it means to be a parent- the desire to shelter and protect our children and the strong urge to give them a better life and a brighter future, providing them with the best advantages possible. Yet, the moral example one sets is equally important, as well as instilling a strong level of accountability, from both parent and child, building true character.

Parenting is difficult under the best of circumstances, but raising a child with special needs is an all- consuming effort, the challenges constant, and this novel provides some very realistic examples of that, measuring the exhausting toll it can take on even the most resilient and dedicated parents.

Overall, this is a well-rounded novel that could just as easily have relied on one dimension of the story- the trial,or the behind the scenes drama that revealed all those stunning secrets and resentments. To have adeptly combined the two aspects of the story, with balance, and near perfect pacing, is what really made this novel standout.

Obviously, I am very impressed by this debut novel. Can’t wait to see what Angie Kim comes up with next.
Profile Image for Liz.
2,028 reviews2,537 followers
March 26, 2019

This fascinating debut novel covers all the bases - family drama, mystery, courtroom drama. A Korean couple opens an alternative health clinic that provides HBOT - hyperbaric oxygenation, which is supposed to help with autism, infertility, CP and other health problems. On a day that protesters have gathered outside the facility, it explodes. The same day one of the mothers chooses not to accompany her autistic son into the chamber. The same day the couple are both away from the controls of the chamber. So, who exactly is to blame when all the participants are either killed or injured? Who could be that much of a monster?

Told from multiple points of view, we get to see both the day of the “accident”, their lives prior to it and the ensuing court case when the mother is charged with murder. The multiple points of view are extremely effective. “Teresa hadn’t expected an exact match between his memories and hers - she watched Law and Order; she wasn’t that naive- but still the difference was unnerving.”

We are taken into the world of parenting autistic children; the anguish and the hardships but also the bliss of a small achievement.

Some of the scenes described are gruesome. They’re also so incredibly well described you feel like you’re there. The image of a child’s adult teeth exposed above the baby teeth will stay with me for ages.

OMG, I loved these characters. They all seem to have something to hide, they all are so achingly imperfect. So often thinking that their one little omission doesn’t matter. Kim uses these omissions to keep the reader guessing. Every time I thought I had figured out who the murderer was, Kim would throw a wrench into the mix and it would all be up for grabs again.

And the writing is spot on perfect. Not necessarily lush, but so descriptive. I found myself repeatedly nodding my head in agreement. There are some fascinating philosophical issues raised here. This would make a great book club selection. Highly recommend!

My thanks to netgalley and Farrah, Stroud and Giroux for an advance copy of this book.

Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,010 reviews33 followers
January 26, 2020
Wow... another great Kindle deal $3.99.
Heck, I’d buy this enjoyable book myself for a few of my friends at that price. It’s ENJOYABLE!
I’m once again reminded of the advantages of owning a kindle - ( I like physical books too)... but hard to beat the many sale price deals found on Kindle)....
Plus.. reading is faster and easier on the eyes for some of us old farts!


Ha...old review:

Long ... but no spoilers!!!!

Great Balls of FIRE....
...literally and figuratively...
From the first sentence, the reader is hooked.
I am completely jubilant about this book....
with a fascinating medical exploration of Hyerbaric oxygen therapy - a treatment used for decompression sickness of scuba diving hazards - but is also used to treat a variety of medical conditions, such is the case in this story.
Medical evidence is sufficient in treating autism, Bell’s palsy, infertility, and a long list of other diseases.
Parents brought their children with special needs to the oxygen tank.
Each session (the dives)were an hour long.

Pak Yoo, Korean immigrant,
sent his wife, Young, and their daughter, Mary to live with a host family in Baltimore. Pak wanted his daughter to get an American education.
Young had to work at a run-down supermarket with bulletproof doors ( gangs at night in the area), 7 days a week. Young worked like a slave in exchange for the host family ( the Kangs), paying for Mary’s American education.
In the meantime, it took another 4 years until Pak joined his wife and daughter in the Baltimore.

Pak opened his Hyperbaric oxygen therapy here in the states. His wife, Young and their daughter, Mary were clearly not happy - about their life in America.
I couldn’t blame them.
Their daily lives were compromised severely. Pak made all the final decisions in that family.
I personally wanted to kick him in the balls!

Pak said HBOT was popular with Asian acupuncture clients. The Asian community in Japan and Korea had wellness centers with infrared saunas and HBOT
He had years of experience in Seoul
Pak had been in Acupuncturist for 30 years..
But gave it up in the states for his oxygen wellness therapy.

Pak and Young’s daughter, Mary was frustrated -lonely and - angry for numerous reasons. Her life as a teenager in the states was completely jeopardized due to their parents choices.
Mary questioned why she needed to get an American education when the math classes in Korea were far superior. In fact all of the education was more advance than in the states. So.. I wondered about their argument as to why they came to America myself.

After the explosion -
Mary’s personality flipped from a hot tempered talkative girl to a detached mute facsimile of her daughter”.
Doctors diagnosed Mary with posttraumatic stress disorder PTSD.
She missed taking her SAT classes that day.... and everything about her life went from worse to worse.

“Miracle Submarine”, ( the oxygen chamber is shaped like a submarine), exploded at 8:25pm on August 26th, 2008, starting an uncontrollable fire. Pak, the owner lied big time that night. His wife was victim to her husband’s lie.

6 people were inside the Submarine chamber.
3 people were in the immediate area.
2 died.
4 were severely injured— hospitalized for months, paralyzed limbs amputated.

Outside the treatment center, on the night of the tragic event, protesters gathered: angry - wanting to close down the Submarine oxygen business. Maybe- but doubtful - that one of the prosecutors were the cause of the explosion.
But possible...

I started to think ‘many’ people were to blame - not just one person.
THIS STORY IS GRIPPING ... and got inside my head.
Even though I felt I knew the number 1 culprit- ( not saying if I was right or not)....
I kept thinking about the pros and cons of oxygen medical treatments. The medical fiction was equally as interesting to me as the page turning courtroom drama.
A treatment center opened just 2 miles from my house over a year ago.
Expensive as hell!!!
I’ve been curious about the BIG TANK in our neighborhood- but it was this book that ‘really’ piqued my interest.

Something went VERY WONG the night of the explosion in Miracle Creek.
Accident or intentional?
And what’s the miracle?

A year after the explosion
....a terrific courtroom case began.
Elizabeth Ward was charged with arson, battery, attempted murder. Her own son died.

Elizabeth’s defense attorney, Shannon Haug....was stellar during the courtroom trial. She didn’t believe Elizabeth was guilty. Neither did I...
but Elizabeth and everyone had reason to want to explode the treatment center. Everyone was hiding something.
The town “Miracle Creek” could have been “Liars Creek”. A community of liars.

Abraham Patterley the prosecutor...wasn’t a fan of Shannon Haug -and vice versa. (Making the courtroom drama fun for our reading).

Steve Pierson, an arson specialists and witness verified that the fire started outside the chamber....and Elizabeth ‘was’ outside the chamber the night of the explosion.

Elizabeth’s son, Henry, who had autism was one of the victims killed while in the
“Miracle Submarine” chamber. Doesn’t seem quite like a miracle when people are killed and injured.
But did this mother really cause the fire explosion...
that killed her own child?

We got a clear look
at Elizabeth’s daily demands for her son.
Elizabeth was “Henry-centric”. No time left over for friends and socializing.
“During the day, Elizabeth drove Henry to seven types of therapy—speech, occupational, physical, auditory processing (Tomatis), social skills (RDI), vision processing, neurofeedback—and, between those, roamed holistic/organic stores for
peanut/gluten/casein/dairy/fish/egg-free foods. At night she prepared Henry’s foods and supplements and went on autism treatment boards such as HBOTkids and AutismDoctorMoms”.

Sounds like a committed mother - yet Elizabeth was THE ACCUSED.
Or?? who else was to blame?

The two dead victims were Kim Kozlowski ( the defendant’s long time friend), and Henry Ward, the defendant’s own 8 year old son.

I was totally intrigued with this book! I liked everything about it...
...the medical issues
...the top notch courtroom drama,
...the immigration story - (from Korea to the United States).

4 trial days..
We hear from a full cast of witnesses:
....Matt Thompson was the first witness. A medical doctor - Caucasian - married to Janine Cho - Asian -( also a medical doctor/ internist).
Matt had fingers amputated from being in the chamber during the fire that night in August 2008.
Others witnesses:
PakYoo, owner of HBOT
Young Yoo ( wife of Pak)
Elizabeth Ward, ( the accused) ... and once married to Victor
Janine Cho, ( Matt’s wife)
Teresa ... mother of Rosa, a teen daughter with cerebral palsy, due to an illness.

Author Angie Kim did an outstanding job with this novel. As a preteen she moved from Seoul, Korea to the suburbs of Baltimore.
She attended University and Harvard Law school.

This was a phenomenal enjoyable debut novel.
The cast is large - but was very easy for me to keep track of everyone. LOVE THIS BOOK!!!

This was the BEST courtroom drama I’ve read since “Defending Jacob”...by William Landry.
Plus this novel had added enrichment topics: medical fiction and immigration.


One of my FAVORITES!!!

Thank you Farrar, Straus, Giroux, Netgalley, and Angie Kim
Profile Image for Norma.
551 reviews12.3k followers
July 31, 2019
Riveting, affecting, & vivid!

Wowza! I absolutely LOVED this and think all the buzz surrounding this book is so well deserved and warranted.

MIRACLE CREEK by ANGIE KIM is a poignant, moving, gripping, powerful, captivating and absolutely stunning debut novel that captured my attention and heart right from the very first page. I was immediately drawn into this murder mystery and found it so irresistibly unputdownable.

ANGIE KIM delivers a fascinating, suspenseful, interesting, engaging and beautifully written courtroom drama story here that was absolutely perfect in every way. The characters and storyline definitely got under my skin and I was intensely impressed with how masterfully done this story was.

This was such a powerful and thought-provoking read that I was totally invested and immersed in. I especially loved the emotive courtroom drama scenes which definitely created lots of intrigue and edge of your seat suspense.

*Traveling Friends Read*


Norma’s Stats:
Cover: Stunning, bold, cosmic, impactful and a fitting representation to storyline. #coverlove
Title: Intriguing, relevant, basic, and a fitting representation to storyline.
Writing/Prose: Engaging, vivid, emotive, effortless, readable, beautiful, and well-written.
Plot: Perfectly-paced, relatable, bold, authentic, suspenseful, riveting, interesting, entertaining, enjoyable, thought-provoking, moving, empathetic, heartfelt and powerful.
Ending: A fabulous heartfelt resolution for a fabulous book that left me feeling such love and warmth for this hauntingly beautifully told story.
Overall: This book was phenomenal and was quickly added to my Favourite Reads Shelf of 2019! Would highly recommend!

Review can also be found on our Two Sisters Lost in a Coulee Reading book blog:
July 29, 2019
The Traveling Friends had such a great evening with Angie Kim who spend two hours with us discussing Miracle Creek. She answered our questions and shared some insight into the story, herself and her writing process. We could feel her passion for her reader's insight into the story as well.

No hype from us here we just want to share the love for this story and Angie Kim who is a truly amazing and gracious author!!


YAHOO!!! Our June Traveling Friends Goodreads Group pick Miracle Creek by Angie Kim is wrapping up and it was one fantastic group read! Angie Kim nailed it here with her stand out, stunning, unique and twisty debut!!

From the very first page, Angie Kim writes an insightful, masterfully plotted and well-layered story here. One like no other I have read before. For me, it’s stories like this that I seek out and I need as a reader. It had me digging deep into the depth of the story and my mind raced with all kinds of thoughts that were provoked from the insight to the themes and elements in the story.

Miracle Creek explores a few themes here and it is so well developed and paced. There is a mystery here with a whodunit and the drama starts to unfold in the courtroom. The mystery is so well weaved into the storyline it becomes just one of the elements that make up this story. The story turns into a fascinating study as we see the characters version of the truth and just how the truth can be altered or influenced. The character’s moral compass is examined and a well played out dominion effect takes hold and wraps up this ending. It’s mind-blowing and absolutely fascinating how it all plays out.

Angie Kim had me connected to each character in one way or another with the moving and insightful look into parenting. Each character conflicted and desperate in their struggles and feelings of being alone with their inner thoughts. I felt so many emotions as we see their thoughts and the judgement from others. The ending wraps up so well and after discussing this one in the group I was left with such a clear picture as to how one thing leads to another creating a brilliant well-plotted story from start to finish.

Miracle Creek made for a stand out group read for us and one that will be a favourite of mine. There is so much to talk about here and in the discussion, I could see all the different things we each picked up in the story that really enhanced the reading experience for this one. I could talk about this one forever.

For more thoughts from our Traveling Friends
Profile Image for Debra .
2,295 reviews35k followers
June 19, 2019
4.5 stars

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 . . .

I'll be honest, when I first read the blurb, I thought a book about a "miracle submarine"? Seriously, a miracle submarine. Come on. Now I will admit, I am open minded when it comes to reading and anyone that follows my reviews knows I will read just about anything, but this sounded kooky to me. But it wasn't. It was bliss. I thoroughly enjoyed this book!!!!!!

In Miracle Creek, an immigrant couple, Young and Pak Yoo run an experimental oxygen chamber where their patients (and sometimes their parents) take dives in hopes of curing autism and infertility. But one day, the Miracle submarine explodes, and two people die. A court case quickly follows where one individual is on trial for murder. But is this person guilty?

This book introduces us to various characters who at first come across as likable but as the book progresses and as more information is divulged, their likability dwindles and suspicions shift. Most have secrets, hidden agendas, and secret thoughts. As their chapters progressed, the characters are fleshed out as are their inner thoughts and what they were really thinking and doing leading up to the explosion.

I love when a book surprises me. I'm glad I decided to take a chance with this book. I It went from kooky to crazy good in no time. I was captivated by the book and thoroughly enjoyed the the Traveling Friends Group discussion on this book. This is an amazing debut book. The Author herself is an immigrant and a trial attorney which made this book even more powerful. Her character Pak Yoo talks about the "his" immigrant experience in this book. The trial scenes are also very realistic and captivating.

This is a great book for book clubs as there are many things to discuss in this book such as: autism, infertility, marital issues, being an immigrant, secrets, lies, hope, the American Dream, what parents will do to help their child/children, grief, pain, and truth.

A Traveling Friends Group read.
Profile Image for Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader.
2,128 reviews30.3k followers
April 17, 2019
The hype is real- this book is GOOD! ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Miracle Creek takes place in a small Virginia town of the same name. Young and Pak Yoo are the owners of an experimental treatment called the Miracle Submarine, which is a pressurized oxygen chamber. Its dives are believed to be therapeutic for autism among other disabilities or conditions.

The Miracle Submarine mysteriously exploded, and two people are killed. This small town is transformed forever.

At first, it’s unclear who the suspect or suspects are. Could it be the mother of one of the patients? Or the Yoos? Both may have probable motives.

The courtroom drama plays out with BIG intrigue and lots of emotion. This aspect of this story was extraordinary and authentic.

The author is a Korean immigrant and former trial lawyer, so that certainly adds to the authenticity of her characterization and subsequent unraveling of the courtroom plot. She is also the mother of a “submarine” patient, so the genuine emotion is firmly there.

Ok, friends, don’t miss this one. If you enjoy emotional reads, this book is for you. If courtroom dramas are your bag, definitely don’t miss this. And everyone else? Well, this one is for you all, too. It’s just too good to pass up! It’s a twisty, dynamite page-turner with smooth writing and a compelling plot. Miracle Creek is an all-around fresh and refreshing read.

I received a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.

My reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com
August 1, 2019
3.5 stars. Phenomenal writing, mediocre storyline.

The hype, the hype, the hype - that’s what pulled me toward this book.

The synopsis alone didn’t appeal to me. It was the countless outstanding reviews (and the Traveling Friends who added as a group read) that enticed me to pick this up. I’m happy that I read it and I truly think it was excellent writing, especially for a debut novel. For me, the plot had a strong start that slowly fizzled out as the story progressed. It didn’t keep my curiosity piqued and I completely lost interest in the second half.

This is the case of me not being the right reader for this storyline. Please take the time to read the countless raving reviews because there is a lot of love for this book. I will be interested to see what the author comes out with next as her writing was impressive and very promising.

This was a Traveling Friends read that lead to one of our best discussions yet! I was the outlier with my feeling on this one. Please check out our blog for our reviews:

Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,738 reviews14.1k followers
April 22, 2019
How far are you willing to go for your child? That is the heart of the question of this terrific debut novel. It opens with s court case where a mother of a child on the spectrum stands accused of setting a fire that caused a fatal explosion. Her son one of those that died, but another mother was also killed. A hyperbaric chamber, called the submarine, offering parents the hope that the pure oxygen atmosphere will help their mentally challenged children. Also, involved is a man whose wife has convinced him this may also improve his low sperm count. The Yoos, Korean immigrants, are the family that run this chamber.

There are many different versions of this story we come to hear as we wade through a maze of lies, incomplete stories and half truths. All have a piece of thread to unravelling what really happened that day. All have a reason to not disclose all they know. There is plenty of in your face realism within as we hear the frustration of raising children who are less than perfect, but does this frustration lead to murder? As one of the characters in the novel exclaims, We all have thoughts that shame us." So true, parenting is a frustrating job, healthy chlld or not. As the different threads, stories coalesce, we begin to piece together the truth. All the little pieces, separate incidents lead to a final outcome.

Everyone holds a piece of the puzzle in their hands, " Good things and bad, every friendship and romance formed, every accident, every illness, resulted from the conspiracy of hundreds of little things, in and of themselves inconsequential." A book that shows how one action, effects another and another, and terrifically rendered. A well done debut novel, one that will hold the readers interest as they try to figure out who did what and why. How little actions, turn into big ones until there is a point of no return. Expecting good things from this young author.

ARC from Netgalley.
Profile Image for Beata.
733 reviews1,112 followers
April 10, 2019
When I requested this title, I had no idea what to expect. After eading Miracle Creek I know one thing: I'll follow Angie Kim and reach out for her next book.
Miracle Creek is a courtroom drama and a thiller telling a story of an explosion that kills a child and an adult, and leaves several people injured. The tragic circumstance is that Miracle Submarine provides an unconventional treatment for several chronic diseases, autism among others, and is operated by Korean immigrant family who, having lived in the USA for some years, still are trying to find their way in the new surroundings. There are several characters and we learn gradually the truth, which is a perfect way of narrating a story, at least for me. I enjoy discovering new threads with every page, and Miracle Creek leads me meandering beautifully.
Truly unputdownable!!

*Many thanks to Angie Kim, Farrar, Straus and Giroux for providing me with ARC in exchange for my honest review.*
Profile Image for Robin.
484 reviews2,625 followers
May 31, 2019
I don't want to take anything away from Angie Kim, who has written a well-crafted mystery/courtroom/drama here which seems to have pleased many readers.

I have to give it to her, she came up with an original setting, and a damn original 'murder weapon' - an HBOT submarine tube that, due to arson, exploded with several adults and special needs children inside who were undergoing hyperbaric oxygenation, an alternative treatment which claims to help with autism, infertility, CP and other health problems.

She penned an array of characters, all as likely to have set the blaze as the suspects in a game of Clue.

She did a good job of depicting the exhaustion and heartbreak parents of special needs children experience. I worked for eight years in an accounting capacity for a clinic that provided behavioural treatment to children with ASD. I saw first hand the parents' determination, their daily sacrifice, financial depletion and mental exhaustion too. And of course, the love. I also saw precious children who were made to "work" many hours every day in the hopes that they will be "cured", and their struggle just to be themselves in an inflexible world. Angie Kim captures both points of view with compassion.

She also did an excellent job of portraying the immigrant experience of two Korean parents and their daughter, and how the American life they worked so hard to achieve wasn't even close to what they hoped it would be.

What can I say, though? Due to the rave reviews - Kirkus promised it to be "big" - my expectations were high, and it just didn't quench my thirst. I think I expected it to be more literary. This is a straight up mystery, and while there's nothing at all wrong with that (is this a Seinfeld episode?) I didn't find enough here to chew on. I found it predictable, and there was nothing surprising about the end.

Speaking of the ending, I thought it awkwardly expressed and disappointing. It wasn't happily ever after, but it was very neat, very tidy, very morally upright. I, being the twisted sister that I am, wanted someone to slink off and think for themselves, I wanted less justice and resolution, I wanted more complication, ambiguity and mess. You know, a good rolling around in filth, the way life actually is.

I experienced a level of enjoyment for the first half. But will I remember this book in a few years? I doubt it will have the staying power I yearn for in a novel.

3.5 stars
Profile Image for Debbie.
441 reviews2,795 followers
June 13, 2019
Law and Order with metaphors, yum yum yum!

I’ll take a little Law and Order, please, with a side of metaphors. That’s my way of saying this a tasty courtroom drama that is literary as all get-out.

This book doesn’t start with a slow simmer, oh no. Instantly, I’m all ears, scowling and fascinated. WTF? Is this sci-fi? (Heart beating a little irregularly because do I really want to read sci-fi?) It’s all deliciously mysterious at first, and a few pages in, I read:

“Sweat dampened my face, and I thought about the six patients sealed inside without air-conditioning (the generator operated the pressurization, oxygen, and intercom systems only) and thanked God for the portable DVD player to keep the kids calm.”

Huh? The word “sealed” really messed me up. Since when are people ever “sealed” inside anything? And the victims are kids? Please!—already this is so (good) weird—and sad! But soon I find out about the scene of the crime, and my scowl turns to wide-eyed admiration. Hot diggety, now THAT’s a unique crime! Hooked!

The characters are complicated and flawed, and through alternating chapters, we get to hear their stories—with lots of omissions. It’s a tease; I’m doled out crumbs and I’m there trying to put the cookie back together so I can see if it’s chocolate chip or oatmeal. Half the time I’d swear it was chocolate chip, then just as adamantly, the next second I’d claim it was oatmeal, end of story. (All of the sudden I’m jones’n for sugar, so enough with this cookie analogy.)

Secrets and lies are everywhere, and there’s guilt in big doses. Every single relationship seems to be strained. Lots of people biting their tongues and almost all of them buttoning their lips. Regrets and miscommunications are there, all bright and shiny, too. All is not as it appears to be—but then it never is in a murder mystery.

The courthouse scenes are so sharp and intriguing. Both the defense and the prosecuting lawyers relentlessly hammer and bully, and they make everyone sweat and look like liars. The woman accused of murder at first seemed like such a shoe-in, but soon I started to wonder. Her lawyer really got on my nerves, but less so as I changed my mind about her client’s guilt. This back and forth—chocolate chip or oatmeal?—kept up until the very end. The ending was powerful.

I had many job titles: I got to be sleuth, juror, and eavesdropper. Eavesdropping at a scene was one thing, but being able to eavesdrop into the characters’ heads was even more fun. There were many tortured souls. And so many agendas and secrets to figure out.

I highlighted a lot. Here are some sample goodies:

Cultural differences:

“To Koreans, being sparing with words signaled gravitas, but to Americans, verbiage was an inherent good, akin to kindness or courage.”


“Tragedies don’t inoculate you against further tragedies, and misfortune doesn’t get sprinkled out in fair proportions; bad things get hurled at you in clumps and batches, unmanageable and messy.”

“That was the things about lies: they demanded commitment. Once you lied, you had to stick to your story.”

“This was the quintessential skill of teenage daughters: making you think and say things you regretted even as you were thinking and saying them.”

Cool metaphors:

“…something was wrong with his story, somethings tiny that kept crawling in the recesses of her mind like a weevil in a bag of rice.”

“Janine’s words were like icicles, puncturing the alcohol-infused warmth blanketing him.”

This started off as a bigtime 5-star read. I thought it was going to be my favorite book of the year, in fact. The unique plot and the rich characters had me hopping around on my pogo stick. It was invigorating as hell—until I found I wanted to get off because I had to concentrate too hard. So what made me knock my rating down to 4 stars was my own problem: the episode of Law and Order simply went on too long for me, giving the book time to grow the list of variables and making my head spin. There were a lot of details to keep track of.

The thing about a whodunit is that the scenes are all chopped up: a bit here, a bit there. I missed linear, where tension builds. This is funny because I’m not a huge fan of linear. But here, I got tired of the puzzle pieces being so tiny (spurts of little drama instead of a big, rolling drama). I got to a point where I wanted to run to a blackboard, chalk in hand, and draw names with connecting lines all over the place, just like I see the TV detectives do when searching for a killer. (Sorry, my baby boom is showing. Millennials, make substitutions as necessary: it would probably be a white board and a PowerPoint presentation.) But I don’t want to have to chart it, sorry; I want it to be easier. Anyway, I just got on overdrive and my intense interest dropped a notch. I wouldn’t say it ever got boring, but I found that as the story unfolded I wasn’t quite as excited to pick the book up.

Still, still, still, a simply amazing read, with complex plot and characters. It had me trying to solve the crime, but it also had me learning about Korean immigrants and about special-needs kids and the hardships of their moms. I’m pretty sure this book will stay with me, maybe just because of the unique crime setting. I highly recommend this baby!
Profile Image for Susanne.
1,159 reviews36.8k followers
June 10, 2019
4.25 Stars.

Actions always have consequences. Their impact is everlasting. The characters in Angie Kim’s “Miracle Creek” are reeling from them.

Pak is new the proprietor of Miracle Submarine, an HBOT facility providing hyperbaric oxygenation to those with serious health issues (such as infertility and autism) for which it has been proven to provide speed healing.

One day during a night session with protesters outside, the submarine ignites and explodes. Tragedy strikes. Neither Pak or his wife Young, were where they were supposed to be. Not that they would admit it.

Elizabeth, mother to one of the children in the chamber, left her child in the care of someone else and now she is on trial. Matt, a doctor, and his wife Janine, keep secrets from each other, day in, day out.

In fact, secrets are par for the course in this small community and no one is immune from the after effects.

Told from several perspectives, and timelines (before, the day of the accident and during the trial), “Miracle Creek” is a fascinating character driven novel. The author did an amazing job portraying the anguish of so many of the characters, including the parents of special needs children and the difficulties they face every day. The trial was brilliantly done and I was glued to the edge of my seat throughout the duration.

“Miracle Creek” is a devastating and heart wrenching novel. Admittedly, it made me think a lot about marriage and the importance of communication. It is a wholly important, beautifully written novel that I read very thoughtfully and its impact is overreaching.

A huge thank you to NetGalley, Hodder and Stoughton and Angie Kim for an arc of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Published on Goodreads, NetGalley, Amazon and Twitter on 6.9.19.
Profile Image for Katie B.
1,294 reviews2,963 followers
April 9, 2019
Super impressed with this debut novel! It's a solid mystery/courtroom drama in which there are so many suspects you really aren't really sure who is guilty or what exactly happened until the very end. The author masterfully weaves some complex issues into the story which just take the book to a higher level than most others in the genre.

The Miracle Submarine is a pressurized oxygen chamber run by Young and Pak Yoo. It's a controversial and experimental treatment for patients hoping to cure such things as autism and infertility. A mysterious fire breaks out one day and two people are killed. The mother of the boy killed in the explosion is now on trial for the double murder. But is she the only one with motive to start the fire? Of course not, this is one of those books in which just about everyone is a suspect.

The mystery in my opinion was really well done and that's reason enough to read this book. The Miracle Submarine has a bit of a futuristic feel to it but the story itself reads like a good, old fashioned whodunit. I love what the author chose to bring to the table in terms of making this more than just a mystery. The experiences of a Korean immigrant family were fascinating to read but what I enjoyed the most out of the story was reading the perspectives of the parents who had children with health concerns. There's just so much to take away from the book that I think it will appeal to many readers. Highly recommend checking this one out!

I won an advance copy of this book in a giveaway but was under no obligation to post a review. All views expressed are my honest opinion.
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,484 reviews29.4k followers
April 23, 2019
If you've ever watched one of the many iterations of the Law & Order series on television, you know that every episode follows a similar pattern, at least at the start—an incident occurs, every sign points to a particular perpetrator, everyone starts to wonder if they've caught the right person, and as the story veers to its conclusion you're not sure exactly what is going to happen.

This is exactly how I felt reading Angie Kim's debut novel, Miracle Creek , a story that seemed so clear-cut at first had so many layers, so much going on, and I couldn't stop reading it. Were the characters as straight-forward as they were being portrayed, or were they hiding secrets? Would the actual perpetrator ever be brought to justice?

Amazingly, the book's courtroom drama was only a part of this book's appeal—it was a tremendously compelling and poignant story about the struggles of parenting, particularly when your child has special needs, the desire to protect your family and yourself, and the lies we tell ourselves to get by.

"Tragedies don't inoculate you against further tragedies, and misfortune doesn't get sprinkled out in fair proportions; bad things get hurled at you in clumps and batches, unmanageable and messy."

Korean immigrants Young and Pak Yoo run Miracle Submarine, a device that delivers hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) through pressurized "dives." Some believe HBOT can treat diseases like cancer, diabetes, or infertility, and others believe in its effectiveness to help treat children with autism and cerebral palsy. The Yoos have a regular group of customers, but they also have attracted a fairly energized group of protestors, who believe HBOT is a sham, and that Miracle Submarine should be shut down.

One day, in the midst of protests, power outages, and drama among the patients, a fire breaks out and the oxygen tank explodes, killing two patients and injuring others, including Pak and his teenage daughter, Mary. After their investigation, law enforcement apprehends their suspect, and a sensational, emotional trial is about to begin. Everyone wants to put the events of that day behind them and get to the truth.

But what really happened that day? Were the protestors that warned of the threat of fires to blame? Was it the mother of one of the autistic children being treated, had she finally cracked under the pressure of caring for her son? Was it Pak and Yoo themselves, hoping to take the insurance money and cash in on a better life? The lies, the secrets, the painful truths will all collide as everyone tries to make sense of that fateful incident which affected far more lives than at first glance.

Miracle Creek is a beautifully written and emotional story. The further you get into the book, the more you realize that the pervasive pall of sadness than hangs over the story is caused by more than the tragic explosion—it's an emotional heaviness surrounding all of the characters for different reasons, each of which played a contributing factor in what occurred.

Kim does such a masterful job telling this story. There were characters I disliked at the outset that I started to warm up to as the story unfolded, and others that became less sympathetic. There also were a few characters that I didn't feel quite transcended stereotypical roles, but the book would have been much longer if Kim had spent time dwelling on their motivation, too.

There has been a lot of hype surrounding Miracle Creek in the months leading up to its publication. That hype really is justified. Much like the incident that is at the book's core, the book itself is far more complex, complicated, and compelling than it initially seems. It's both cerebral and sensational.

See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com.

Check out my list of the best books I read in 2018 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2019/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2018.html.

You can follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.
Profile Image for Holly  B (Short break!).
815 reviews1,874 followers
May 12, 2019
This checked all the boxes!

1. A compelling courtroom drama with plenty of suspense that created a page-turning (or listening in my case) effect.

2. Authentic characters that came alive and I grew to care about them and their well-being.

3. Both a who-dunnit and a chance to play defense lawyer as the trial progressed and lots questioning the characters actions.

4. Mulit-layered plot that weaved all the story lines together flawlessly.

5. Some scientific therapy that uses hyperbaric oxygen to treat several health issues that sounds very futuristic (Although it is a REAL treatment). This gave the story a unique feel.

I loved it! Unique and memorable in so many ways.

I did not have a physical copy and listened via Audible.
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