Miracle Creek by Angie Kim is a stunning novel that stays with you long after you finish the last page. It’s a must read for 2019!
I first read about Miracle Creek about a year ago and instantly had a feeling it was special. And I kept seeing more and more buzz for it so my excitement grew. And it met my expectations and beyond— I was absolutely blown away by this novel. Part mystery, riveting courtroom drama, character study, a focus of the complicated dynamic between mothers and children, an examination of the immigrant process to the U.S.–there’s so many layers.
While I feel my review could just say over and over—read this book!!!—let’s take a closer look at it.
The book starts off with the day that will change so many lives in a small Virginia town. 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? 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.
Content by trial
Miracle Creek draws on Angie Kim’s own life as a Korean immigrant, former trial lawyer and mother of a real-life “submarine” patient. I could tell as I read this how Angie focused on topics that she is well familiar with.
Most of what we learn of what happened that night is through the courtroom testimonies. Angie does a masterful job of weaving in the testimonies—both the characters’ inner thoughts as well as flashbacks to key events.
The central mystery is who’s responsible for the Miracle Submarine’s explosion. I guarantee you will have multiple debates with yourself about this and probably change your mind constantly! I had several different scenarios playing out in my head and I was still quite shocked at the ending.
Novels that showcase the complicated immigrant experience in the U.S. are so vital to our society. I always say that books are a prime chance for someone to view the world from a different perspective and experience from themselves. In Miracle Creek, Young and Pak bring their daughter Mary to the states in hopes of giving her a better life. However, for Mary, life in the U.S. is very difficult—she’s picked on and doesn’t feel like she fits in. In her viewpoint, life was much better back in her home country of Korea. This impacts every choice she makes.
- There’s about seven narrators to this story and while it’s all engaging, I was most drawn to Young’s storyline—her character arc is compelling and dynamic. You really feel for her throughout the story.
- Another key aspect of this story is the “perfect” mother narrative and the difficult decisions that moms face every day—especially for those of disabled children. Those are some of the most heart-wrenching scenes.
- The prosecutor and defense attorneys sections are interesting–especially learning the different strategies and how the “truth” is a relevant term when it comes to winning a case.
This is a page-turner that will make you think. Don’t miss this exceptional novel. And this is the ideal book club read! Check out my discussion questions here.