Miracle Creek

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 16 Apr 2019

Member Reviews

This novel is centered around a trial about a fire at a hyperbaric oxygen chamber treatment facility used in large part for treatment of children with autism and other issues, operated by a Korean immigrant family, describing both what happens at the trial, and, from the perspectives of a number of characters, what else is going on in their lives both during the trial and in flashbacks to before the incident. So, it's part courtroom drama/mystery, part literary character novel. Kind of like Jodi Picoult at her best, so definitely recommended to fans of her work, among others. All the characters have secrets of their own, so there is a lot of suspense, and there are many different thought-provoking aspects to the book as well - it would make a great book club book.
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Miracle Creek is the debut novel by Angie Kim that is a literary courtroom drama about a Korean immigrant family and a young, single mother who is accused of murdering her autistic son.  This book is first a courtroom drama and second a murder mystery that also examines topics such as immigration, parenthood, grief, disability, and caregiving.  It’s really hard to describe this story without giving too much detail, but I will say I enjoyed the courtroom drama and trying to figure out who actually murdered the two characters that died in a horrific “accident”.  

This book was a lot to process.  There are some very serious subject matters discussed including child abuse, immigration, and sexual assault.  It definitely is a book that makes you think and doesn’t give anything away until the end.  

I liked how it was told from multiple perspectives of the victims and other people involved.  The author developed the characters well and made you want the best for all of them.  I did not see the ending coming, but once I read it, it made perfect sense to me.  I had a hard time rating this though because everyone loved it in the reviews I read, but I found it a bit dry and draining at times.  Maybe that was how it was supposed to make you feel though.  I would recommend this if you like courtroom dramas and mysteries.  

Thank you NetGalley and Farrar, Straus and Giroux for providing an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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4.5 stars for me. Once you pick this book up, you will be sucked in so don't expect to put it down easily!  This was a page turner and it starts before Chapter 1 with the introduction.  I may have literally exclaimed, "WOW" with eyes wide open. And so the journey begins and doesn't end until the very end.  It is a mystery, a courtroom drama and unraveling of secrets, all in one!  I don't always love courtroom scenes but this one captivated me.  The fact that this is a debut novel is so impressive and exciting because I can't wait to read more by Angie Kim!! I love how she wrote about things she has personal knowledge about (she's a lawyer and has experience with hyperbaric oxygen therapy).  That intimate knowledge definitely shows in her storytelling.  I went into this story knowing only the cover blurb and I think that's the best way to delve in. HIGHLY recommend!!
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DNF 40%
I couldn't get into this one at all. The story just didn't have any stakes for me. Neither did the characters. I know that seems crazy when you know the subject matter, but it's too technical without enough heart. I also have no interest in discovering the culprit, which is the other reason for giving up. I found most of the characters to be stereotypes rather than relatable people I'd care to root for. No biggie, though. Readers will like it. It's got that police procedural feel.
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A cleverly told story using a courtroom setting to expose the arsonist and murderer who set a miracle submarine on fire. Nothing or no one is as they seem in this portrayal of parenting, marriage, disabled kids and consequences. 

Copy provided by the Publisher and NetGalley
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The backdraft of a boom immediately sucks readers into Angie Kim's dazzling debut, Miracle Creek. In rural Virginia, Korean immigrants Pak and Young Yoo live with their teen daughter, Mary, striving for success. Their business, Miracle Submarine, uses a hyperbaric oxygen chamber where patients undergo atmospheric pressure therapy to help with problems such as spectrum disorders, brain injuries and infertility.

Pak, a certified technician, always runs the chamber. Then one night he asks his wife to lie and leaves her alone at the controls, resulting in a compellingly layered and tragic answer to Pak's simple question "What could go wrong?" A disastrous confluence of circumstances, mistakes, emotional burdens and shame culminates in an explosion that kills two patients and injures others, including Pak and Mary.

A year later, through the murder trial of Elizabeth Ward, who stands accused of targeting her own son, who was being treated for autism, Kim masterfully unwinds the events leading up to the blast, intentionally caused by a fire. With an inordinately large pool of potential suspects in addition to Elizabeth, the various pressures that work on those associated with the Yoos and their patients paint a complicated picture that Kim mines to extraordinary effect. Protesters threaten the Miracle Submarine business, a potential insurance payout is suspicious, and marital and infertility issues raise red flags.

Kim's writing is stunning in its depth and compassion. The light she shines on the difficulties of parenting a child with special needs and the immigrant experience in the U.S. is unflinching and multi-faceted, evidence that the pressures of life can go almost unnoticed until they detonate in an instant.

STREET SENSE:  A beautiful character study wrapped in a compelling mystery and court drama, Angie Kim's debut has it all. Stunning.

A FAVORITE PASSAGE: Standing over the simmering pot, stirring in the curd paste and watching the water turn a rich brown, Young had to laugh at how contented she felt, at the fact that this was the happiest she could remember feeling in America. Objectively, this was the lowest point of her American—no, entire—life..Young should’ve been in despair, so weighed down by the bleakness of her situation, by others’ pity, that she could barely stand. And yet, here she was. Enjoying the feel of the wooden spoon in her hand, the simple motion of stirring sliced onion into the current of the liquid, breathing in the tangy vapors wafting up and warming her face...She and Pak had laughed together today—when was the last time they’d done that? It was as if being deprived of joy for so long had made her oversensitive to it, so that even a sliver of pleasure—the everyday kind she expected and therefore didn’t notice when life was normal—now left her in the kind of celebratory state she associated with milestones such as engagements and graduations.

COVER NERD SAYS:  In an abnormal twist, I read about this book before I ever saw the cover, so I was intrigued and knew I wanted to read it before getting a gander at it. Which means my normal cover "Spidey senses" couldn't do their thing. If I try to be objective about the cover without my love for the book bleeding in, I would say I dig the cover image but am distracted by the font. In some ways, the image/font are a good mix of the character/mystery elements found inside, but I think a different font might have made this a stronger cover.
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Genre: Suspense , fiction 

Synopsis: The Yoo family run an experimental medical oxygen chamber; a device that was used to treat people diagnosed with autism, infertility, cerebral palsy among others. When the device ( The Miracle Submarine) explodes killing two people and injured others starts a trial that changes the life of everyone. The life of all the people involved and the story behind each other . 

Review:  A different story, a different scenario ( than usual) written with an interesting plot and interesting characters. The topic of the bio racial marriage, different cultures are taken, families that have left their country on origin in search of a better life, their experience and their suffering. The theme of infertility, marriage, autism and the struggle of parents to give their children a better life. The love between parents and children in different ways and different situations and what they are willing to sacrifice. Real deep themes, and with lots of intensity. I love the way that the author explore all of them. Very well for the author who for me achieved its purpose. Excellent title, excellent plot, excellent characters, excellent lessons and a gorgeous cover. My opinions are humble and only mine.
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I confess, the cover caught my eye. Then I saw the blurb that said “A thrilling debut novel for fans of Liane Moriarty and Celeste Ng.” That did it, I was hooked. And once I started reading, I was all in. Now I want to  suggest it for a  book club, but how to describe it? Is it a courtroom drama? Legal thriller? Story about immigrant families? Families with special needs children? Caregiver burnout? It’s all of the above, so it’s hard to know where to start the description.

The story starts with ”The Incident,” told  from the point of view of Young Yoo, a Korean immigrant who left Seoul in search of better opportunities for her daughter Mary. They live in Miracle Creek, Virginia, which “…didn’t look like a place where miracles took place, unless you counted the miracle of people living there for years without going insane from boredom.”  The second  section tells the story of the trial of Elizabeth Ward, who was charged with murder as a result of “the incident.” It is presented in chapters told from the points of view of Elizabeth, Young, her daughter Mary Yoo, Matt Thompson, and Teresa Santiago.

The night of  the ”incident,” Elizabeth dropped her son Henry off for an HBOT treatment at the facility owned by Young and her husband Pak. Although she generally stayed with Henry during his treatment (which took place in a pressurized oxygen chamber that resembled a submarine), that evening she went off to drink wine and smoke cigarettes nearby. Two people (including Henry) died and several others were injured by an explosion caused by the same brand of cigarettes as those Elizabeth was smoking, and she was vilified by many as the evidence was gathered. 

After reading this book, I did some research on HBOT. In my ignorance I had thought that it was a. fictional treatment…but I learned that it is an oxygen treatment purportedly able to treat a wide variety of health issues, including autism, which was Henry’s diagnosis. As his  full-time caregiver, Elizabeth was suffering from burnout, but it isn’t clear if it was severe enough for her to murder her son.

There is a lot going on in this book in addition to the legal drama. The struggle by Young and Pak was particularly relevant today, with the ongoing immigration debate in the U.S. Young and Pak started their wellness clinic in Miracle Creek, and found themselves struggling with the language, the dismissal of their HBOT treatments as silly “Eastern medicine”, and with being separated when Young and Mary came to the United States without Pak. It was wrenching to read of the struggle of immigrants such as Pak, a smart and eloquent man in his native Korean, who suffers the indignity of appearing unintelligent on the witness stand with 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.”

All the characters seem to want the best for their families, but they beat themselves up in various ways trying to achieve it. Elizabeth was driven to the edge by being the mother and primary caregiver for her autistic son, Young worked such incredibly long hours that she became a stranger to her daughter, and  Pak was  a  “goose father” (he stayed behind in Korea for several years and made an annual migratory visit to see his wife and daughter).

As I learned after I finished the book, Angie Kim has personal experience with HBOT. Knowing she had used it to treat her son gave more impact to her writing lines such as “Having a special-needs child didn’t just change you; it transmuted you, transported you to a parallel world with an altered gravitational axis.”

No spoilers, but it is fascinating and entertaining on several levels. Angie Kim can WRITE! Five stars, and thanks to Farrar, Straus & Giroux/ Sarah Crichton and NetGalley for providing a copy in exchange for this honest review.
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It must be said that the cover of this book is absolutely stunning and is what initially caught my attention. While I came for the cover, I stuck around for Kim’s beautiful writing that held me captive from the opening lines:

"My husband asked me to lie. Not a big lie. He probably didn’t even consider it a lie, and neither did I, at first. It was such a small thing, what he wanted."

I sat down to read a chapter or two before bed, and before I knew it, a few hours had gone by. I have read a number of court room dramas, but never have I felt so much like I was part of the jury–slowly hearing the story as it is revealed bit by bit. With each witness called to the stand, new information came to light, information that completely shifted my ideas about what may have happened, and changed my perspective about the facts that had previously been presented. Kim is an absolute genius and this book is a masterpiece. A courtroom drama it definitely is, but it’s also a thoughtfully plotted mystery and character study that expertly portrays the lengths parents will go to to protect their children.

Kim’s background in law is put to exquisite use in the courtroom scenes that are tense and taut with emotion and I was utterly transported–it was as if  I was in the courtroom, holding my breath along with Young, Pak, and Matthew, as more and more of this story unfolded. The characters are flawed and heart breaking and so dynamic they could walk right off the pages. With Elizabeth, Kim has created one of the most realistic portrayals of the complicated nature of what it truly means to be a parent that I’ve ever read. Her entire storyline cracked my heart wide open and left me raw for days after.  I typically stay far away from stories that deal with violence towards children. Miracle Creek grapples with some very heavy topics, and at times I found it hard to read, but I’m grateful that I picked it up despite the heaviness.

It’s probably obvious at this point, but I highly recommend Miracle Creek and will not hesitate to read every single book Kim writes in the future. Pick it up if you enjoy gut wrenching stories about parenthood, legal thrillers and whodunit mysteries. Pick it up if you are a fan of Celeste Ng. Pick it up if you just want to be swept up in some really phenomenal storytelling. Just pick it up and read it! Thank you thank you thank you to Sarah Crichton Books for the advanced review copy in exchange for my honest review!
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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.
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This book is 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥!

Miracle Creek, an #ownvoice debut novel by Angie Kim, felt like Where the Crawdads Sing meets Everything I Never Told You. There is so much this book offers: suspense, legal drama, medicine, autism awareness and advocacy, special needs parenting, immigrant experience, infertility, marriage...and it is all weaved together beautifully.

I absolutely loved how the story unfolded over the course of several days of court proceedings through alternating points of view, providing the reader with varying perspectives of the same flow of events. This tragic story will literally pull you in from page one and keep you utterly captivated to the final page.

The hype is real. Read this book.

Thank you to Netgalley and Farrar, Straus and Giroux who granted me an egalley of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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This book is a riveting page-turner for 2/3 of the way through, and then has trouble ending.  Miracle Creek is the location of a special oxygen chamber used for healing various problems, including autism and infertility. The concept is controversial and attracts protesters. We learn a lot of background about a group of regular users of the chamber known as the Miracle Submarine. Circumstances happen in just the right order, leading to a deadly fire in the sub. The rest of the book describes the investigation, the trial, and the reveal of the guilty.

The story is fascinating and suspenseful, the writing is excellent, and the characters are well-drawn. The problem is the last part is too long. Editing could have tightened the story without affecting the plot.  Still, it is a very terrific story!
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What a crazy convoluted fraught plot Miracles Creek offers. But it was compulsively readable. It’s hard to believe it’s a first novel. I hope it isn’t Angie Kim’s last. The story is somewhat of a courtroom drama. Elizabeth is on trial for the murder of her own son and a friend. Both deaths occurred in a pressure chamber meant to help people with various conditions, such as autism and infertility. The story takes place over the course of a few days during the trial, and is told from the perspective of a number of characters including the owners of the chamber. Everyone has multiple layers of secrets that come out slowly as the story unfolds. It’s hard to categorize this one by genre. It’s not really a psychological thriller or a mystery. It’s more of a character driven novel, showing the twisted thought patterns and emotions of people in difficult situations. Smart, complex and emotional. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an opportunity to read an advance copy.
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Miracle Creek is an intricately crafted family and courtroom drama from debut novelist Angie Kim. I picked this one up after taking a self-imposed break with "suspense/thriller" books because they were all feeling rather similar and just couldn't hold my attention. 

Miracle Creek was a surprise hit, not only because it kept me guessing until the end, but because of it's amazing depth and deep dive into so many important issues. While the courtroom drama was center stage, immigration, the hopes for experiencing the "American dream", and caring for children with special needs was right there too. There were so many layers to Kim's amazing storytelling. This wasn't an easy read but it was so compelling and thought-provoking which was exactly what I had been missing lately with these "types" of books. 

HBOT (Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy) was an entirely new concept to me and I found it added so much to the storyline. Kim was able to add so much emotion during this reading journey that I was able to connect with all the different characters perspectives, even when I couldn't always relate to their actual experiences. 

I am so impressed with Angie Kim and I look forward to reading what she comes out with next!

I received an Advanced Review Copy of Miracle Creek by Angie Kim from the publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Beyond amazing I enjoyed this book so very much. The characters and storyline were fantastic. The ending I did not see coming  Could not put down nor did I want to.
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“Miracle Submarine's oxygen tank exploded at about 8:25 pm on August 26, 2008, starting an uncontrollable fire. Six people were inside, three in the immediate area. Two died, Four, severely injured--hospitalized for months, paralyzed, limbs amputated.”

Miracle Creek is a courtroom drama with a lot of very heavy layers that make for some very deep character studies. The legal case is the Commonwealth of Virginia vs Elizabeth Ward, which centers around one primary event (that is really a tangled web of events that the novel delicately picks apart) where the “Miracle Submarine” exploded, killing two individuals, including a young child with ASD. The “Miracle Submarine” is a hypobaric chamber. Readers will learn all the ‘nuts & bolts’ of the science behind this contraption, but basically, it’s an alternative treatment for a varying list of conditions, including ASD and infertility (which are the primary two that we see in this novel). 

There are quite a few characters in this title, which sometimes I struggle to keep up with in novels. However, I did not find it difficult at all in this case and enjoyed the alternating chapters, getting tiny snapshots of each character’s background experiences and piece-by-piece getting to see what happened on the day of the explosion.

A quick little ‘X-Ray’ of the characters you will encounter…. 

★ Pak Yoo -- The Yoo family is from Seoul, South Korea, currently living in Virginia, in the US. Pak is the ‘head’ of the Yoo family. He is the owner and operator of the “Miracle Submarine” and is very dedicated to making sure his family, especially his daughter, Mary, have every opportunity for a better life in America. Pak was paralyzed as a consequence of the submarine explosion.
★ Young Yoo -- Young is married to Pak and has spent much of her recent years working incredibly long hours in order for her and Mary to live in America. She is a hard working woman who is desperate to rekindle a bond with her teenage daughter. 
★ Mary Yoo -- Mary is 16 and really trying to find herself. After the explosion, Mary was in a coma for a period of time, but has since recovered. 
★ Elizabeth Ward -- Elizabeth is on trial for the alleged murder of her son, Henry, who died during the submarine explosion. Elizabeth is a single mother who experienced a lot of frustration with coping with her son’s disability--she is type-A and relentless in the mission to provide her son with the best possible treatments and hope for a ‘cure’ possible.
★ Matt Thompson -- The Thompsons are family friends of the Yoos. Matt married into a Korean family and is currently experiencing the strain that infertility can put on a marriage. Matt was ‘diving’ (using the submarine) in hopes to treat infertility and was present during the explosion. Matt’s hands were severely burned during the explosion and he lost fingers. 
★ Kitt Kozlowski -- Kit isa mother who used the submarine for treatment for her son TJ, who had ASD and engaged in self-injurious behaviors. Kitt is a mother of 5 and I would loosely call her a ‘friend’ of Elizabeth’s--they had a very complex relationship, layered with a lot of conflict. Kitt was killed by the explosion of the submarine. 
★ Teresa Santiago -- Teresa was also present in the submarine at the time of the explosion and was part of the mom group that went on ‘dives’ regularly to treat the disabilities fo their children. Teresa’s daughter Rosa has cerebral palsy, which was caused by an illness in her childhood. Rosa is wheelchair-bound, nonverbal, and uses a feeding tube. Teresa has become a close friend to Young.


I’m not sure I could have asked for much more from this novel. It really takes the framework of what makes up a family, holds it up to the light, and exposes all of the things that make us tick inside… including how far we would go to protect (or teach) those that we love, even when it’s incredibly painful. This novel is heartbreaking, moving, ugly, and beautiful, all rolled up into one unbelievably deep story that ties together the lives of so many.

The best part about this novel is that I think that there is a bit of something for everyone in regards to relatability--but I think that immigrants (especially Asian immigrants) and mothers (especially mothers with children with special needs) will be able to connect to this novel on an incredibly deep level. 

This novel is an own-voices title, as the author, Angie Kim, came to America when she was a preteen from Seoul, South Korea. This is very reminiscent of Mary Yoo’s experience, so I am sure she has channeled a lot of personal experience and emotion into the Yoo family, and it really shows. There is so much depth to the experiences, challenges, and triumphs that this family faces--including, but not limited to, the challenge of a patriarchal culture where women do not hold the same power as men ( "No man wants a wife who eats or talks too much" ), the difficulty of language barriers, racism, family separation, and poverty on the way to a ‘better life’. 

"It was as if discarding her Korean name had weakened her, like cutting Samson's hair, and the replacement came with a meek persona she didn't recognize or like."

I also would not be surprised if this is an own voices title for a parent of a child with special needs (I researched and could not find an answer to this). I am not a parent of a child with special needs, so I cannot represent that voice with full authenticy, but as a special educator who has worked with children with special needs, as well as their families, for the vast majority of my life, I would say that she does an impeccable job of capturing the realities of the challenges that these parents face. Not only does she touch on the experiences of these parents, but she does a fantastic job of representing the complexities and variance of challenges that parents face, based on their child’s disability. One child--Rosa-- is wheelchair-bound, uses a feeding tube, is nonverbal, and needs very high levels of assistance for day-to-day activities. TJ is also nonverbal, engages in self-injurious behavior (SIB), and requires moderate levels of assistance. And Henry is verbal and does not require very much assistance with regular, routine activities. But I loved that Angie Kim captured the fact that every one of these parents go through difficulties of their own and how easy it is to compare our own story to that of another--and in the process, we invalidate the difficulties they are experiencing, or we add unnecessary negative-light to their difficulties. 

"Having a special-needs child didn't just change you; it transmuted you, transported you to a parallel world with an altered gravitational axis."

It was a truly beautiful representation and I think that many parents of children with special needs are going to really resonate with this novel and appreciate the heart that Angie Kim poured into it. 

Angie Kim has a real talent for creating characters that are very dynamic. I felt so connected to the characters, as if I personally knew them, and my heart broke throughout the story as I watched all of these characters struggle with their own battles. She also created a conclusion that demonstrates that everything in life is not just black and white--sometimes the answers are more complicated than you expect, with layers upon layers of choices that led to consequences. 

I would give more than five stars if I could! 

Thank you to Angie Kim and Farrar, Straus & Giroux for providing me with a DRC of this title via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!
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Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

I had heard lots about this book before really so I was excited to see if it would live up to expectations. It did and it didn’t.

I loved the idea of the book, hope of a better life for a Korean family who were living in America. The introduction of oxygen therapy as a medical treatment was new to me and it was interesting to see how that played out through the book, especially following the explosion at the beginning.

I liked seeing the characters develop and the court scenes were written well, but I found it slow paced. I liked it but wanted the pace of the book to be faster, to make me not want to put the book down. 

The book offered insights into the thoughts and feelings of not only the Yoo family, immigrants from Korea, but also the parents of those children with additional support needs. I felt these were written about very thoughtfully and tenderly and the author drew all these together to create a satisfying conclusion. Not an easy to read conclusion, but one that finished the book well.  ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Disclaimer: Thank you to Farrer, Straus and Giroux and Netgalley for the complimentary digital copy in exchange for an honest review of this book.
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Miracle Creek is an assured and sharp courtroom drama from debut novelist Angie Kim. When Korean immigrants Pak and Young Yoo open a hyperbaric chamber wellness center in Miracle Creek, Virginia called “Miracle Submarine,” it offers them and their daughter, Mary, the promise of financial success and a new life in America, while giving hope to the families of their clients, mostly autistic and special needs children thought to benefit from the pressurized, pure oxygen therapy. But when a sudden, suspicious fire shatters the Yoos’ dreams and claims two lives, the investigation and trial which follow reveal a tangled web of motives and secrets in the private lives of the Yoos and their patients, all of whom seem to have something to hide. Don’t expect a police procedural—Miracle Creek is a courtroom drama in which the detective work is presented by lawyers and witnesses during the chapters covering the four days of the trial. Interspersed with these chapters are those of multiple narrators—the Yoos and their clients—which, while providing plenty of red herrings and moments of suspense, are more notable for Kim’s sensitive portrayals of the alienation of immigrants and the difficulties of parenting special needs children. I thought the book sagged a little in the middle, but Kim does a good job of tying all the threads she’s dangled throughout the novel together in the end for a satisfying, albeit sad, ending.

Thank you to NetGalley and Farrar, Straus and Giroux for providing me with an ARC of this title in exchange for my honest review.
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An edge of your seat courtroom drama that has you guessing and second guessing who was responsible for setting the fire that killed 2 people inside the Miracle Submarine (a pressurized oxygen chamber that patients enter for therapeutic sessions that may or may not cure autism, infertility, etc.). 
I was hooked! I am usually pretty good at figuring out a mystery but this one had me stumped until 3/4 of the way in. The story is told from the various players' perspectives and it is from their different narratives that you find out all the secrets, all the pieces of the puzzle that led to the unfortunate event.
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This is the 100th book I have read and reviewed through NetGalley's advance reader system -- and it may be my favorite. Here's why:

Each character was full-bodied, both heroic and potentially villainous. Each of the dozen or so prominent cast members had my full-flooded sympathy at one point or another, as well as my skepticism and distrust. Yes, it's technically a courtroom drama, and it's definitely a suspense story -- but the book's other components were so rich that it carried me beyond that narrow framework.

At the center is a Korean immigrant family, a couple and their daughter who turns 17 and then 18 while the story unspools. The story is arguably about children with disabilities and the toll this takes on their families. And yet -- the cross cultural and the medical and the psychological elements were so skillfully layered that they seemed an intrinsic part of the suspense.

The details also felt fully authentic, judging by my contact with Korean immigrants and people on the autism spectrum among my close kin. Many other reviewers called this a "tearjerker," and -- while my usual reading skews toward the hard-boiled and the stoic -- I appreciated the deep sadness I felt watching these tough, strong people deal with the random catastrophes Life brought them.
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