Cover Image: Miracle Creek

Miracle Creek

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apologies for late feedback - this was a DNF for me although tried to re start 3 times I couldnt get into the book at all and found it very hard going
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Although it's touted as a court room thriller, at its heart, this is a book about families and what we do for the sake of the people we love. Stuffed full of fascinating characters who just want the best for their families but find it difficult to keep giving, it's a hard read at times. There's tragedy here and many heart wrenching moments, but if you can persevere through them, it's also a beautiful tale in its own way.

Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC without obligation.
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Normally I would not pick this book up - Courtroom Drama.  What a surprise I loved it!  It delved into the characters lives, each one was realistic and had problems.  Each one could have caused the disaster.  It is the story of Korean immigrants to USA.  Everyone is into alternative treatments and a sub-baric chamber claims to cure a wide range - infertility, autism etc.  The main character wanted a better life for his family and having worked in this area in Korea wanted to set his own company up in America.  But after a terrible accident each person has to prove that they were not the culprit.  It is not a dry story, it is about family connections and the desperation of families to find a cure where there might not be one.  A really good read and one I recommend totally.
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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?
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The HBOT therapy device is owned by Pak and Young Yoo.  A lot of hard work and financial struggle went into procuring this device; there were years when they had to live apart, with Young and their daughter Mary in Baltimore, Young working round the clock for room, board, and her daughter’s private school tuition while Pak worked two jobs in Korea, squirreling away resources. Now the unthinkable has occurred—the chamber has gone up in flames with patients inside it. Two people are dead and others are horribly injured, and there’s an intensive investigation that leads to an arrest. Elizabeth, a single mother, is charged with starting the fire in order to murder her little boy and free herself from the difficult caregiver role. On the surface, the facts are damning indeed, but what the cops don’t know, at least in the beginning, is that every single person that was there that day is lying about it.

Elizabeth, Kitt, and Teresa are mothers of autistic children, digging deep and running up their credit cards hoping for miraculous transformations. The seventh patient is Matt, whose wife has pressured him into trying this treatment to raise his sperm count. The other characters in this story are the Yoo family that own and operate the chamber, and the legal teams assembled for the trial.

Most legal thrillers and courtroom mysteries hinge heavily upon what happens in the courtroom. In contrast, although what plays out in court is not unimportant, the real meat of this story has to do with the actions, thoughts, and memories of the townspeople that are involved, primarily when court is not in session. Although our point of view is the third person omniscient, specific critical details are revealed to us in stages, and what we learn at the end differs greatly from the conclusions most of us will have drawn at the outset, when we had less information.

Why do people lie, and in particular, why would anyone lie to the authorities investigating a deadly disaster like this one? Make a list of the possibilities, and as you read, you’ll see them all, a veritable potpourri of bald-faced lies and critical omissions of facts. At the end of it, we find just one (lying) person that has integrity and pure motives, and everyone else has crossed a line, not only legally but ethically. And although there’s just one character here that I’d describe as dynamic, the others are developed to an extent as their layers of rationalization, anger, fear, resentment, and greed are revealed to us.

This is an explosive debut, and Angie Kim is a force to be reckoned with. You want to read this book, and happily, you won’t have to wait long. Highly recommended.
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I had no idea what to expect from the plot of this book going in, and was also somewhat wary as I had seen rave reviews and didn't want it to fall flat.
However, I needn't have worried!

This is not the kind of read you can breeze through, put down and forget about. It's visceral, and stays with you - even the seemingly small parts that are just tiny threads in the tapestry Kim weaves.

A South Korean family have recently immigrated, and run a business - where a mysterious fire breaks out. We jump forward to a year after the incident and find Elizabeth on trial for the murder of her autistic son and another customer at the business. But did she do it?

This is a courtroom drama so I don't want to say much to reveal the interlacing layers of this book, but it covers topics including parenting, special needs, race, immigration, family relationships and more. 

There was just so much depth to this book - it felt like looking into a whole ecosystem of the world Kim created. It lives up to the hype!
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Thank you for the chance to review this galley prior to publication. Please refer to my goodreads profile for a full review.
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Miracle Creek was stunning! So intriguing and I love a good courtroom drama. Really well written story and I was shocked by the wrap up! Would absolutely be reading any future books of Angie Kim's.
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I found that Miracle Creek did not live up to its hype and was fairly ponderous with a large cast that did not assist in the enjoyment of the story.
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This book, for me, was on a par with Little Fires Everywhere. It is gripping, the characters are perfectly formed and described and the plot is executed so brilliantly. 10/10
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This was a beautifully written family drama, intense in its plot, emotional in its character building. I was completely drawn into the court-room drama storyline and the way the author layered each character so that we slowly get to the reality of what actually happened to them. How far would you go to protect your family? And is it worth it? The way the author entices the reader with socio-ethical dilemmas is what really made this book stand out for me. Intensely heartbreaking at points, this is one if you love your family social dramas.
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I'd heard really good things about this one and wasn't disappointed. Not my usual read but thoroughly enjoyed it.
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Phew... this was an emotional read.  Debut novel, my ass! Ok, let me pull myself together here.

The Korean/American views within this story is so on point it breaks my heart.  It's hard to try and be a part of two cultures while feeling like you're failing at both.  I remember when I was young and was embarrassed by my mother's accent or felt like my Korean family was making fun of me for trying to speak Korean (I'd realize later they were just really happy I was trying!) and my American classmates would speak to me slowly or in an accent that I actually didn't even have since I had lived in the States since I was 2.  Kids are mean.... in any case, these portions strewn throughout the book just really pierced at my heart.

And this is what this author does.  Kim brings EACH of these characters to life.  Even the characters you start off despising, you realize that they're HUMAN and what they're going through is something you can only imagine.  Some of these parts were hard to read.  Some characters never found any redemption within my head … in all instances, I will not forget a single one of them.  I'm looking at YOU, you character, that I want to hunt down.... oh.... Hi everyone.  Guess I'm still here.  *waves* 

"That was the thing about lies; they demanded commitment. Once you lied, you had to stick with your story."

There really is a lot to discuss here.  The alternative medical practices, how different pieces of the community reacted to it and why.  The intricacies of everyone in their relationship to each other, the town, their children and those "like themselves" are brilliantly written and cohesive.  And I like that we get an ending that seemed real and honest and not just a bow tie.
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Thank you NetGalley and Publisher for this copy of Miracle Creek!

It took me way too long to finally pick up this popular 2019 courtroom thriller. It was a good read and I did not see the main twist coming at all. However, I did struggle with some of the sexual content in the novel that I felt uncomfortable reading. 

Rating: 4/5 Stars
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When an explosion occurs at a treatment centre in a suburban American community, killing two people, the town is rocked by a court case that deals with issues of race, motherhood and disability, exposing fractured relationships and dark secrets. 

Miracle Creek is a literary thriller in the vein of Little Fires Everywhere - a small town drama with big intrigue and dealing with even bigger questions about society. Angie Kim's story and setting is a unique one - at the centre is a Korean American family who run 'Miracle Submarine' a centre which purports to treat a range of illnesses through a pure oxygen supply. But when a patient and a parent die in an explosion caused by a cigarette, another patient's mother is arrested and put on trial for murder. A classic who dunnit ensues as we plat detective, digging through testimonies and clues to try and follow the leads and work out who had the means, motive and opportunity to commit such a crime. 

As well as a compelling mystery thriller plotline, Kim masters a prose style which is simultaneously frank and captures the little details of life that really brought this story to life, from specific feelings, to underlying thoughts that you may recognise in yourself. Through the compelling plot she also explores some significant social issues, from how communities treat immigrants, to how we view disability and the responsibility of motherhood. Nothing in this book is clear cut and it is difficult to come to the conclusion that Kim has anything definitive to say, instead it seems that she uses the novel as a vehicle to explore these ideas, ask questions and discover the implications. Yet the book never feels like an exercise, it is so deftly written with empathy and humour. 

This is a wonderful novel which explores a unique aspect of society and is incredibly thought provoking.
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I’m basically speechless.

Angie Kim’s Miracle Creek is so much more than a thrilling courtroom drama. While the trial was absolutely riveting, I loved the focus on the characters’ feelings and thoughts even more; it really brought the whole story to a whole new level.

I don’t know about you guys, but even when I’m watching documentaries on trials, I always marvel at the lawyers. How they manage to twist everything to the point where I start doubting everything I already heard. Sure the first guy was convincing, but so is the other one! Makes me wonder how the truth rarely matters. I had the same feeling with this book too.

The story unfolds through different point of views and each testimony leaves more confusion than the previous one. Whenever I would have an a-ha moment, it didn’t take long to change my mind and wonder just what the hell happened. With all that turmoil boiling inside the people involved what actually happened is almost beside the point. How can anyone come out of this happy or relieved?

There was a great deal said about motherhood, disability, parent shaming, immigrants and secrets. About how people should be able to be completely honest about their feelings, but we all know it’s not the case. One innocent comment out of context can paint you in the worst possible light. It almost makes me want to never write down anything I’ve ever thought. No matter what you do, under the right (or shall we say wrong) circumstances it can look absolutely damning and can paint you a monster.

I can’t even…
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The Yoos are an immigrant family from Korea who have moved to America and created a business which Pak Yoo specializes in - hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT). The HBOT takes placed in an enclosed, submarine-like structure which is highly vulnerable to flames due to the use of the concentrated oxygen in the therapy. So, inevitably, a fire breaks out. From the fire comes an explosion and some of the patients, Pak Yoo and Mary escape with serious injuries. Two of the patients, however, do not escape. One young autistic patient, Henry, dies in the incident alongside his mother's friend, Kitt. The narrative is set through the series of court hearings in the trial of Elizabeth - Henry's mother - who is accused of setting the fire intentionally to murder her son. 

Lately, I've been reading a lot of feminist fiction and felt like I'd appreciate a break before moving onto, yet, more feminist fiction. Crime/thrillers are often great reading breaks for me, as I can often delve into them and complete them within a couple of days due to their addictive elements. I chose Miracle Creek because it seemed like a great twist on the typical whodunnit concept. I found that this book is definitely original, and I haven't read any like it before. 

Despite the fact that most of the scenes are set in a court room, I got the vibe that it was quite an enclosed case due to the lack of interaction from anyone outside of the town. This gave the book a small-town feel, making it easier to recognise the characters as there weren't too many to keep tabs on at all times. This was enforced further due to the fact that the reader is told the story of the incident in retrospect, we are not party to the police investigation that followed. Instead, the reader is fed most of their information much like the audience in the courtroom - we gained judgements from what the witnesses stated on the stand. However, the reader does gain some privileged information due to scenes not centred within the courtroom, of course.

I found the whole 'whodunnit' concept quite entertaining at first, as I couldn't decide who had committed the crime, myself, for a while. The debate surrounding Elizabeth and child abuse was certainly a damning one and I would be lying to state that I wasn't set on her being guilty for a large portion of this book. However, I do think that it becomes obvious to the reader too soon who is the responsible party - I'm attempting not to spoil this even further with this review! I think I would have appreciated it a bit more if I was totally shocked and floored with the big reveal of this person's identity, when, really, I was flicking through the pages waiting for the characters to catch onto what was evidently right in front of their faces.

Overall, I think the concept and the book's originality gain it its reputation - which should not be downplayed, it is without a doubt a good read. However, it did not hit that 5/5 stars for me, due to reasons detailed above.
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This was my first courtroom mystery in quite a few years, but I really enjoyed it and it's got me intrigued in the genre again! This had a really great cast of characters, all of whom were complex and not necessarily great people. The way Kim wrote it had me constantly guessing and changing who I thought the guilty person was, but ultimately the ending felt satisfying.
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TW: death of a child, talking about injuries from being burned + explicit talk about someone being burned, sexual assault, suicide

We follow a trial about a fire in an alternative medical centre where a mother and a child with autism died. The mother of the boy with autism is on trial for starting the fire because she wanted to kill her son. But did she do it?

I expected to love this, but it took me a while to be in the right mindset to read this. The characters were really fleshed out, I understood all the motives behind characters decisions, and the emotions that characters displayed felt real. It made me feel a lot of things (mostly sadness), but sometimes a little annoyed and angry. For example:

There's a scene where Elizabeth's lawyer states that Henry's autism might be caused by certain vaccines used before 2001. This bothered me to no end, since it was used as a legit form of evidence in the case, but it was also stated that Henry was cured of his autism after. There is NO evidence that vaccines cause autism, and the fact that they say that he was cured after just felt wrong. I know books shouldn't force feed us saying what we should find right and wrong, but having a brother with autism myself I just felt that something should have been said about it to debunk it you know?

another thing that made me angry (which was adressed by Young in the last chapter) is that Matt had an affair with a teenager that he forced into sexual things that she did not want to partake in, and didn't get any punishment for what he did. However, this does feel like real life so it was more a goddamn-another-real-life-situation-anger. 

I haven't read any Celeste Ng, but I've heard that if you like that author, you will like Miracle Creek. I highly recommend!!
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I’ve never found myself quite so gripped by a court room drama about a woman accused of killing her child. There’s so much emotional connection between the reader and the characters, so much commitment to developing these complex, fully formed lives that it’s hard not to image they’re real, and image the daily struggles and desperation Elizabeth must have gone through. You feel every emotion going. 

The plot is also tightly woven, adding layer upon layer of drama and angst to tell a captivating story that was very hard to put down. It also handles several sensitive issues, ranging from immigration to disability to the concept of human nature in a highly sensitive and appropriate manner, managing to be thought provoking and compelling all at once. It’s really masterfully done. 

I loved the way this story unfolds too, with multiple points of views that take us through the different views of the trial, often changing the mind of the reader as to what really happened. It kept me gripped throughout. Sometimes this did effect the pacing, and I found I wanted the story to move quicker than it was, as I was so desperate to see how the story was going to end. 

I would also say that although well written, I sometimes got bogged down in the writing. It’s heavy going, and not particularly light in subject matter, and required a lot of concentration and perseverance at times for me to get through.
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