Miracle Creek

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 16 Apr 2019

Member Reviews

'Did he think so much had already happened that nothing more could? But life doesn’t work like that. 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. How could he not know that, after everything we’d been through?'

This is a wonderfully written courtroom drama that not only tugged my emotional strings but had its twist at the end. Miracle Creek, Virginia, Young and Pak Yoo run an experimental medical treatment device known as the Miracle Submarine (pressurized oxygen chamber) that gives new hope to patients with varied maladies. All seems to be going swimmingly, until an explosion kills two patients within the chamber during a power outage. Others are also left with serious injuries. A trial asks, who had a reason to murder the victims because one thing is becoming more certain, it wasn’t an accident.

Young and Pak Yoo are Korean immigrants, striving for success in America. Pak had lived without his family at first, knows all about sacrificie and struggle. Surely he had more than his fair share of hardship, yet he should have known better than, on that fateful day, to ask “What could go wrong?” as if like a command, because to the universe, it’s a challenge. On opening day with all the fresh faces of hope never could those patients, and mothers have fathomed what tragedy awaited them all. With a daughter of their own about to head to off college, are they capable of committing murders for insurance money? Especially when Pak himself and their daughter Mary were also injured? Then again, why weren’t the Yoo’s present when everything went wrong? Why did they leave the patients unattended? It seems everyone has secrets, the distance between Mary and Young has been widening for a long time, like Pak says ‘you always think the worst of her’ but could she be right? Since the accident, she is much worse, but there were things before, like her daughter ignoring her, being too good to help with cooking, cleaning. This better American life didn’t include Mary stooping to that, oh no, that was all on Young’s shoulders. Now her daughter is healing, but something inside of her is tormented.

The trial seems to be focused on Elizabeth ( the defendant) mother of Henry, now deceased, with a list of disorders from Autism Spectrum to OCD. The most ‘manageable’ child of all the patients with disabilities yet the most overwhelmed, resentful, exasperated mother who everyone could see was cracking. It is true, she sometimes hurt him, it is also true she pretended to be sick and went to ‘have a smoke’ instead when the explosion happened. Is it wrong that Young feels relief that Elizabeth is the focus of the people’s fury, that she is absorbing all of the blame? What about Pak? Yes, he made a mistake, but whether he was there or not, it still would have happened, surely he can’t be blamed? Right? He can’t see everything he and his wife worked so hard for as immigrants, all to give Mary opportunity in America disappear! They need that insurance money desperately, or they won’t survive. Matt is called to witness, not so surprising as he understands better than anyone about hyperbarics, holding an M.D. as he does and he was present, after all, a patient himself, taking part in the dives to help with his infertility. He can explain how the ‘submarine’ works, to the court, the jury. He has his own deceptions to hide from his wife Janine, riveted by his answers on the stand. All of this is stirring up weeks he would rather forget, but why?

More than anything, this story is a chain of events, if you remove one action, could the outcome have been different? Is there really just one person to pin everything on or are so many others accountable? There are many roads to guilt, and it seems here every character is on one. Is the truth always the only choice? Are lies as ruinous as facing up to one’s sins? There is a lot to think about here and depending on who you ask about just such a scenario, you’ll get a different answer. Elizabeth’s situation, and Henry’s, was a very difficult read for me. I’m still gutted! This was a very touchingn novel and I look forward to Angie Kim’s next! Not all courtroom dramas can hold my attention, but Miracle Creek balanced what lead up to the trial and the aftermath perfectly.

Publication Date: April 16, 2019

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Sarah Crichton Books
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I loved this book. I went to bed extra early so I could read it. I didn't know what to expect and thought initially it might just be a who dunnit with some courtroom shenanigans thrown in but it was so much more and extremely well written.
It is about a Korean couple who have come to the US to give their daughter a better education and life. However, things haven't gone as planned. The husband, Pak is a qualified hyperbaric chamber technician and has secured backing from some Korean ex pat friends to open a hyperbaric treatment barn to offer pure oxygen therapy off label for a number of conditions. The business is doing well even though the family live in a shack but one evening on the last "dive" the barn catches fire and two clients, Henry an 8 year old  boy with autism and another adult who was with her child get burnt to death. A doctor client who is taking the treatment for low sperm count under duress for his wife's sake has his hand badly burnt. Suspicion for arson falls on Henry's mother as there is easy, circumstantial evidence pointing to her wishing her child was dead added tot he fact that at the last moment she didn't accompany Henry for his session.

The narrative follows the court room proceedings with two lawyers both more interested in showing off their skills than the pursuit of the truth or justice and delves into the background stories of Pak's family, the doctor, the accused and a few of the other clients. It is a real page turner and very poignant, dealing with the isolation of immigration, the tearing apart of family ties, the grind and mixed emotions of caring for a learning disabled child, belonging and expulsion, sexual assault and physical abuse to name a few themes. You also find out who dunnit.  Really good. One of the best new novels I've read this year.
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You can find this review, and all my others over at www.readbookrepeat.wordpress.com 

Wow, I'm actually struggling to find the right words to describe this story. 
When Miracle Creek starts, we are thrown straight into a court case for an event that happened a year ago at the barn owned by the Yoo family. They operate Miracle Submarine, a hyberbaric oxygenation chamber which is said to help cure illness and ailments. On Tuesday, August 26, 2008, a fire caught at the back on the barn where the chamber was housed, igniting the oxygen tanks and causing an explosion which killed two people, Kitt, a mother of five and Henry, an 8 year old boy. What follows is the preceding of the court case and the damnation of Henry's mother, Elizabeth, who has been accused of child abuse, and of being responsible for setting the blaze which ultimately killed her son. But is she actually guilty of murder?

Miracle Creek is a court room drama, but it's also SO much more than that. It deals with a lot of different things, it looks at the immigration of the Yoo family from Seoul, Korea; we see the struggles that a non-English speaking person faces when forced to assimilate into an primarily English speaking country. The difficulties that they face every day, doing simple things. From Young's working from 6am to Midnight everyday when they first get there to ensure that her and her daughter have a place to live - to Mary's trouble with trying to fit in at school, and deal with the racial slurs that are thrown her way, as well as trying to adjust to her 'English' name - Mary. We get an idea of the struggles that a parent of a special-needs child goes through, the feelings and emotions that must pepper them every day of their lives. The guilt they deal with when they allow themselves a split second of simply being human and wishing that their child was different, then punishing themselves because they should be grateful for what they have. The heartache at seeing someone else's child succeed and realise that their child will never do that, will never have a normal life that should be afforded to everyone. The exhaustion and the drive to do anything if it will help their child get just a little bit better than what they currently are. It deals with infertility and the strain that it can put on a young newly married couple, as well as inter-racial marriage and the stigma that still can surround it to this day. You see? It is so much more than a court room drama where we are left salivating and chomping at the bit just to find out WHO DUN IT!?

I found the story incredibly intriguing. It dealt with lies, so many lies, many that were so innocent, in any normal circumstance, it wouldn't have affected anything at all, but when paired with the devastating outcome in this story, it shows how much the smallest thing can make a difference. 

I loved the way the characters were written, I love that the author didn't sugar coat anything she addressed in this story. You felt the heartache, exhaustion, fear, guilt and pain that these characters went through. I had absolutely no idea whether Elizabeth was innocent or guilty, and if she wasn't innocent, I had no idea who the real culprit could have been. I had inklings, and funnily enough my very first one that I had near the start of the book actually turned out to be correct. This story also looks at the human condition, how people make mistakes, how painful it sometimes is to just be human. Even now, I'm sitting here with the story continually running through my head. It really stays with you. Reading about everyone's actions leading up to and on the day of the explosion was fantastic, it really cemented the seed of doubt that crept in, and I love that, I powered through the story as fast as I could because I just needed to know what really happened on that mournful Tuesday, the 26th of August in 2008.
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MIRACLE CREEK is a superbly written courtroom drama that examines Life's Big Questions with empathy and leaves you reeling. Trust me, this is one you don't want to miss—it's going to be huge! Many thanks to the FSG Books for the digital ARC!
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My first time reading this author and I was completely blown away by her prose and vivid atmospheric ability to capture a place and a feeling.

A new virus is spreading in a small Southern California college town. The victims fall into a slumber they can not awake from. While the rest of the country looks on with either horror or denial, the residents of Santa Lora are forced into a quarantine. The panic, mayhem and terror slowly builds suffocating the reader. And while the virus spreads, ideas are introduced about reality, dreams, parallel lives and defining what it means to be alive.

This was an eloquent and elegant mind f*ck! 
Thank you to NetGalley and Random House for providing me with an ARC.
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This book is well-written and intricately weaves together the stories of many characters in a court room whodunnit novel. The part that really impacted me was the honesty of Elizabeth's character and the hardships she faces with Henry's needs.  I don't know if the author also has a special-needs child or just did some great research, but the writing was very compelling and brought me to tears.  In the end I see this book as a tragedy, which I guess is why I had a hard time wanting to read it sometimes. It was definitely a powerful read from a strong literary voice.

Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
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4.5 stars! I received an ARC of this book.

Miracle Creek quickly drew me in and kept me reading. This murder mystery is set largely in the courtroom during the murder trial with glimpses into the lives of those involved. Just when you think you've figure out "who dun it" another twist unfolds. This book was well written and kept me interested all the way through to the last page.
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Thank you @fsgbooks for this ARC via @netgalley in exchange for my honest review. Engaging from the get go, it is difficult to believe that Miracle Submarine by Angie Kim is a debut novel, such is her mastery at putting together this taut thriller of a book that is equal parts mystery and courtroom drama. Young and Pak Yoo are aspiring to live the immigrant dream - they run an experimental medical treatment called the Miracle Submarine in a small town in Virginia. The Miracle Submarine is a pressurized oxygen chamber that patients enter for 'dives' in the hope of a cure for conditions such as autism and infertility. A tragic incident during one such dive however results in the death of two people, and the resulting murder trial uncovers a number of skeletons in the lives of the Yoos and their patients.

Read it if: While this is an incredible book, what I found most memorable is the way Angie Kim has portrayed the complexity of the relationship between a mother and her child - the relationship between an immigrant mother and the daughter she does not understand anymore, and the mother of an autistic child who in moments of weakness wishes for a child who was more normal and a life less demanding. Miracle Submarine releases on April 16, 2019, and I have a feeling it is going to be an immensely successful debut.
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Angie Kim’s debut novel Miracle Creek is similar to a Lianne Moriarty novel. It is a story about a crime told from the perspectives of the various people who may have played a role in it. What seems like a cut and dry crime becomes more and more elaborate and complicated as the story goes on. Not everyone is who you think they are. Not everyone feels the way people believe they feel. Everyone plays a role, what matters is how big of a role they play.
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A fabulous debut.  It took awhile to read as every word was important to me.  The similes used and other descriptions of clues and events were powerful.  The characters and humanity expressed were well written.  More as little and ethics were I. This book too.  It really had so much in it and the way it was written made it so I hated to put it down as I wanted the next page and event to come.
What a great job on a first novel.  I hope to see a new one from Angie Kim I. The future.
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An engrossing novel that I found extremely hard to put down. While it can get complicated at times, stick with it for a gorgeous and heartbreaking ending, one that also wraps up any loose ends or questions you may have. This is a staggering work of art by a debut novelist.
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The story was gripping right from the start, I honestly can't remember the last time I read a thriller or crime novel and was this invested from page one. I mean, the first line alone hooks you in!

'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 . . .'

The book centres around the explosion which results in the death of a number of patients seeking treatment in the 'Miracle Submarine'. Due to the suspicious nature of the explosion, everyone becomes a suspect, but the leading suspect is Elizabeth, the mother of a child with Autism, named Henry, one of the boys who tragically died. The novel follows the court proceedings and jumps backwards and forwards in time to unravel what really happened.

As part of their efforts to establish themselves and send their daughter Mary to college, Pak and Young create the 'Miracle Submarine', which offers HBOT (Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy) to a variety of patients, some of which suffer from Autism, Infertility as well as Cerebral Palsy. I had no idea what this therapy was before reading this book, but it's certainly a very interesting idea.

The novel deals with Autism, and explores the stigma that individuals with Autism face. It also goes into what parents or caregivers of children with Autism experience and the effects that has on them emotionally. It's really touching to read how the parents in the novel devote themselves so entirely to their children and how hard they fight for them.

The suspense and the 'who dunnit' was so well executed, with the perfect amount of back and forth between different characters. Just like in the court procedure, we as readers get to act as jurors and make our own judgement on these characters.

I really enjoyed reading through all the different characters perspectives, sometimes this can be confusing but in this book, I think Angie Kim does an amazing job of switching between them and making them well developed and interesting.

Some of favourite characters would have to be the Yoo family; Pak, Young and Mary. They are a South Korean immigrant family who have a tenuous relationship and  are adjusting to life in the states. You get to read through each of their eyes, read about their hopes, struggles and disappointments and I really felt for each of them. While the novel is primarily a murder mystery, this portrayal of the Asian immigrant experience is also very interesting to read.

The conclusion / ending was PERFECT. Now I'm not a person who throws that word around lightly when it comes to endings but the way it all unfolded was so true to life. It wasn't all neatly tied up and every action had a consequence, in some cases, some irreversible ones. I cried when I came to the end as I was so emotionally invested, I wish there was more but I believe Miracle Creek ended very fittingly.

Overall, this book is definitely one of my favourites of the year and I am a huge fan of Angie Kims writing. I will definitely be keeping a lookout for what she writes next because she is a truly gifted and special writer.
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Miracle Creek by Angie Kim. Just a great book, hard to believe this a debut author.  Every character is reliable, likeable or not.  The reader just feels the pain, anxiety, tension, love of  the person highlighted in the individual chapters.  At the end of a chapter you think you have it figured out but Ms Kim pulls the rug out from under you every time.   Highly recommended.  

Thank you to the publisher, author, and NetGalley for the opportunity to preview the book.
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This was a bit of an odd one for me, I liked the unique concept but it seemed designed to be a tearjerker. I am not one who cries at books so that was a bit off putting to me.
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** I received a complimentary copy of this book through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. **

Being a law graduate, court room drama is always welcomed automatically in my comfort reading zone.So requesting for Miracle Creek by reading its synopsis is not a surprising fact for me.


In rural 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.


It’s twisty page turner and hold the power of grabbing the readers to its last page. That’s all I can say about this book confidently. I think this is one of the best ARC copies I have got my hands on. Miracle Creek is actually a court room drama where a woman is accused of murdering her autistic son using a Korean couple’s business tool but there are so many persons involved with the incidents and so many questions arise with their involvement. The author very carefully unfolds the wrappings of the day and

Before this book I have never heard of the HBOT but it seems very interesting to me. It’s an oxygen based therapy which cured autism and infertility. The device which gives the treatment looks like a submarine shell and the plot of the book turns around whens a devastated fire broke out from a cigarette to this tank which resulted two deaths and other severe injuries. Here comes Elizabeth who has an autistic son named Henry. Henry died in that fire and everybody accused Elizabeth to plot the fire to get rid of her son. Slowly in flashbacks from the court room and others, many events and secrets unfold behind that tragic incident.

I love how the author wrote the story that we , the readers are unable to guess who actually did that. The character of Elizabeth is so honest like at some point she actually seems to have so many reasons to plan murdering her own son and then you realize how the motherhood works. The clashes of mentality of a mother and a human is beautifully portrayed and one cannot deny the process of thoughts of Elizabeth. It was so honest. In my opinion Elizabeth is one of the best written characters.

The characters are the candies of the book. Angie Kim pretty sweetly showed the immigrant family – Pak, Young and Mary’s struggle to adopt the new life in a new country. Mary’s struggle in a new environment I think somewhere shows Kim’s own life.

The cover is mesmerizing. I have requested the book for its cover. After finishing it I get to realize that the cover holds a deeper scene from the book. It’s like someone who is lying down beside the submarine rescued from the fire and spreading his sight at the upper sky hiding behind trees where fires from the submarine are peeking from the right side.

Other main characters like Matt, Janine, Rose, Teresa TJ everybody seems to be played in a very well play. I like how every single character is got to be introduced with importance. Even lawyers like Abe and Sujanne. The new insight we get to see is the autism community. The struggle of the mothers of the autistic children and their clashes among themselves holds a new hierarchy depends on the behaviour ability of the autistic children is showed in a great way.  I really like Kim, one of the autistic child’s mother and her highlights about how the society views the autism and to cope up with that how the parents get isolated in the whole process. Kim & Elizabeth are the perfect example as devoted mothers in this regard.

The dramas in the courtroom and beyond it is really tense and tight. The bond shows in the family and between every characters are also very perfect to show the complex human behavior.

“But that was the way life worked. Every human being was the result of a million different factors mixing together – one of a million sperm arriving at the egg at exactly a certain time; even a millisecond off, and another entirely different person would result. 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.”

The narrative is capable to hold the readers’ attention and fit to be announced as a worth read of suspense/ court room Drama. It opens so many doors for thoughts where you disagree with so many behavior and acts of human and suddenly agree with some major facts. It’s a book which I think will let you believe in fate where an event or small act of yours can change the course of your life. It will teach us to grab the moment because there is no surety of showing love tomorrow or the very next second.

Recommended highly for those who wants to be kept at the edge of their seats.

Ratings: * * * * *

Publication date: April, 2019

available for pre-ordering so take your action first
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Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC. 

There was a lot to like in this book, a stand-out moment for me being the handling of autism and the look it gave into the world of autistic children's parents. It was interesting and heartbreaking to delve into the minds of people compelled, through no one's fault, into a lifetime of primary caregiving. 

However, I just could not for the life of me get into this book and struggled to finish it. I usually get through a book a week on average and this one took me 39 days to complete! 

The main issue for me I felt was the perhaps the format? It more or less dives straight into the court case and it's only through flashbacks later in the novel that we get to know the characters in any depth. Depth was an issue because it felt as if the only characters who really did get a decent spotlight were Young and Elizabeth and the rest just got a cursory two-dimensional glossing.

I'm finding it hard to form a coherent stance on this one - on one hand, I think it was an accomplished book and I wouldn't not recommend it but on the other, it really didn't grab me personally. A failing on my part rather than the author's perhaps?
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Miracle Creek by Angie Kim is a great, solid read! Complex in a good way, great ending. The characters are relatable and really made the book come together. 
Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for an arc copy of miracle creek in exchange for an honest review.
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I have never cried reading a book as much as I cried reading this one. Not cute, single tear drop down my face cry, but full on ugly-snot-whining cry (at the 80%+ mark of reading I was an entire emotional wreck). 

This book starts out kind of slow, you slowly get introduced to the characters and their backgrounds. Can I drop in and say that Angie Kim does PERFECT characterization in this story. You don’t understand... I officially stan her and her writing for the rest of my life solely based on the characterization in this book. 

These characters felt and acted human. Not the factitious how we want humans to act, but how we really do act behind closed doors. With every single character in this book I could relate their characteristics, the good & the bad & the slightly sadistic, back to real people I knew and also back to myself. 

I love authors who don’t shy away from every human’s (yes even the “good” humans) sadistic thoughts. We’ve all had them at varying degrees, and Angie Kim’s incorporation that it doesn’t make us bad people was actually beautiful and a reminder I really needed to hear. 

This was like a therapy session & a good ass story all wrapped into one for me. 

Not only did I finish this book with a lot of self reflection to do, but I also left the story with a lot of new knowledge on my plate. The incorporation of Korean culture was riveting for me, and honestly a fresh new perspective to the family roles that were key in every aspect of this story. 

And the mentally disabled children, who were the stars of this book, were also very educational in a sense that Angie didn’t become victim of political correctness. Yes, she made clear that the moms loved their children, but she also made very clear the emotional and physical toll that the mothers went through. The darker thoughts, the darker moments where they aren’t in control, they were educational to me. I was able to feel not only the love & dedication but also just the burden they carried on their shoulders because they loved their children. It made the story so much richer and more complex.

I could honestly go on and on about all the complicated human interactions and relationships that happen within this enthralling murder mystery. Matt & Janine’s wedding and biracial relationship, Mary & Matt, Pak & Young, Elizabeth & Henry, Teresa & Rosa, Elizabeth & Kitt...but I’ll summarize by saying this; Angie knows what the fuck she’s doing. These were real people in my head; these were real, unfiltered relationships going on. And they were all perfectly weaved into a kick ass murder mystery that’ll have you saying “Who the fuck lit that fire” the entire time.

I loved this book. It’s an all time favorite of mine. If I could give it 50000 stars out of 5 I would. Pick it up, read it. You won’t be disappointed.
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When I got to know that this is the debut book of Angie, I was astonished. The vivid detailed picture she has painted of a Korean immigrant family in the States, their life per se, and the internal conflicts of always being an outsider, is mesmerizing.

To be honest, I picked up this book expecting a full-fledged courtroom drama. I was disappointed in the beginning, but that feeling changed to one of excitement later in the book when the court sessions began in full swing.

Being a Korean immigrant and a lawyer herself. the author has done justice to the book and its lead characters by putting down her experiences on paper in beautiful, descriptive instances. She touched upon the racism bit, but it was missing to an extent.

The book reflects the view-point of its major characters in various situations, analyzing each situation from the point of view of the persons involved. The result is that of a combined 360-degree picture one gets by combining various shots taken at different angles, each adding important information to the final result.

Then there are illustrations, which aid in providing a better understanding of the argument being presented in the courtroom. Even though the ARC did not have clear illustrations, the accompanying text was detailed enough for them to make sense, even in their distorted form.

One complain is regarding the grammatical mistakes that have seeped in even after a rigorous process of editing and proof-reading over-and-over again. No harm in repeating the same before publishing, isn't it? Also, I am confused with the title. Is it "Miracle Creek" or "Miracle Submarine"? The copy I received is titled the latter, while Goodreads and other online portals are referring to it as the former! While both fit the story, sticking to one would stop the confusion from spreading.

If reading a debut book is on your list, this one is a no-brainer.

Thanks to the author and the publisher for the ARC.

Verdict: Highly recommended.
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Short version: This book was AMAZING. Go read it. Now. Or ASAP. :)

Long version: I did not know that novelized courtroom dramas is a genre. How did I not know this?! I am now in love with Angie Kim for opening up this world of fiction to me. Five stars everyone, "Miracle Creek" was an amazing ride of a novel.

When I requested this novel as an ARC, it was more because I noticed that it was about two Korean immigrants, Young and Pak Yoo. My Korean mom immigrated to the United States when I was a baby. As an adult, I moved to Korea for 6 years and loved living there. I really wanted to see how Kim wrote about Koreans in America. The way that Kim wrote her characters, I felt like I knew the main characters personally. Reading about Korean food, customs, and even linguistics was also nostalgic and really made the novel come to life. When the teenage daughter of Young and Pak, Mary, struggled with her relationship with her parents, I struggled with her. I could see many Korean-Americans, especially children of Korean immigrants in the United States, think and feel the same way as Mary often did. 

But you don't have to have any Korean heritage to enjoy this book. The book focuses on the trial after the explosion of Young and Pak's privately owned medical treatment center called "Miracle Submarine."  This book is told from the perspective of many different people involved in a trial- each character is believable, complex, and interesting. Kim covers a variety of topics, including the justice system, parenting autistic children (her observations about parenting were SO on-point), and life as an ethnic minority. 

I LOVED this book and wish the author continued success in (hopefully) writing more books. Thank you to NetGalley and Farrar, Straus, and Giroux for an advanced reading copy of this book.
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