July 12, 2019
Genre/Categories/Setting: Contemporary Fiction, Murder Mystery, Crime Fiction, Courtroom Drama, Korean American, Virginia
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Miracle Creek takes place in a small town in Virginia of the same name. In this town, there is a special treatment center, a hyperbaric chamber that may cure a range of conditions. As the story begins, the chamber explodes and two people die. Is this an accident or sabotage or insurance fraud? Through multiple perspectives, we become acquainted with the owners and surviving patients and learn about their secrets, their anguish, their frustrations, their best intentions, their misconceptions, and their rivalries. The story is rich in vivid details about the trial, parenting a special needs child, and the immigrant experience.
Miracle Creek is appearing on most summer reading lists and is receiving many glowing reviews. Whenever I read a book with a lot of buzz, I go into it with the highest expectations. I have found that this can affect my reading experience. Overall, Miracle Creek is a very well written and satisfying reading experience.
- I appreciate the fast-paced writing, the complex and thought-provoking content, and the realistic portrayal of characters and events.
- I love that the author is a lawyer, of Korean heritage, and has a child that has experienced a hyperbaric chamber. This all adds a high level of authenticity and expertise to the writing.
- Of course, I love learning more about the Korean-American cultural experience as I seek more diverse reads by “own voices” authors.
- It’s important to hear from parents of special needs children about the parents’ fear, guilt, frustrations, weariness, desperation, anguish, and hope.
- I like complicated stories from multiple perspectives.
- Readers who love murder/mystery and courtroom drama will greatly appreciate the well-written and realistic courtroom scenes.
- I love the important themes of family devotion/drama, loyalty, compassion, realities of life with special needs children, friendship, support, sacrifice, and parent/child relationships.
There’s a lot going on:
- The murder/mystery/courtroom drama and the realities and angst of parents of special needs children are equally competing for attention.
- There are several characters to follow and multiple points of view. Although this is interesting, it can cause me to not feel closely connected to the characters.
- There’s so much going on that it was difficult to know where to focus. My attention was constantly pulled between the angst of raising special needs children to the science of miracle cures to infidelity/marriage drama to Korean-American cultural issues to “whodunit” to courtroom drama to unwanted sexual advances directed toward a minor to burn victims to secrets/lies to insurance fraud, etc.
- Certainly, these issues are what make up real life and I’d rather be overly challenged than bored, but still it was a lot.
Recommended: Fans of an expertly-written mystery and courtroom drama will especially appreciate this multilayered, character-driven story. In addition, readers who are looking for complex stories from multiple viewpoints and a heavy dose of realistic family drama will not be disappointed. I think this will make an excellent book club selection because of the varied and thought-provoking discussion topics. This is an amazing debut, and I will definitely read more from this author!
Trigger warnings: unwanted sexual advances towards a teenager, suicide, descriptions of burn victims, the realities of caring for special needs children, death of a child
My Rating: 3.5 Stars (rounded to 4 Stars on Goodreads)
Meet the Author, Angie Kim
Angie Kim moved from Seoul, South Korea, to the suburbs of Baltimore as a preteen. She attended Stanford University and Harvard Law School, where she was an editor of the Harvard Law Review, then practiced as a trial lawyer at Williams & Connolly. Her stories have won the Glamour Essay Contest and the Wabash Prize for Fiction and appeared in numerous publications including The New York Times, Salon, Slate, The Southern Review, Sycamore Review, Asian American Literary Review, and PANK. She lives in Northern Virginia with her husband and three sons. MIRACLE CREEK is her first book. Visit her website at http://www.angiekimbooks.com.
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