Miracle Creek

Miracle Creek

by Angie Kim


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The “gripping… page-turner” (Time) hitting all the best of summer reading lists, Miracle Creek is perfect for book clubs and fans of Liane Moriarty and Celeste Ng

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 powerful showdown unfolds as the story moves across characters who are all maybe keeping secrets, hiding betrayals. Chapter by chapter, we shift alliances and gather evidence: 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?

“A stunning debut about parents, children and the unwavering hope of a better life, even when all hope seems lost" (Washington Post), Miracle Creek uncovers the worst prejudice and best intentions, tense rivalries and the challenges of parenting a child with special needs. It’s “a quick-paced murder mystery that plumbs the power and perils of community” (O Magazine) as it carefully pieces together the tense atmosphere of a courtroom drama and the complexities of life as an immigrant family. Drawing on the author’s own experiences as a Korean-American, former trial lawyer, and mother of a “miracle submarine” patient, this is a novel steeped in suspense and igniting discussion. Recommended by Erin Morgenstern, Jean Kwok, Jennifer Weiner, Scott Turow, Laura Lippman, and more— Miracle Creek is a brave, moving debut from an unforgettable new voice.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780374156022
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date: 04/16/2019
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 9,278
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Angie Kim moved as a preteen from Seoul, South Korea, to the suburbs of Baltimore. 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 in Fiction, and appeared in numerous publications including The New York Times, Salon, Slate, The Southern Review, Sycamore Review, The Asian American Literary Review, and PANK. Kim lives in northern Virginia with her husband and three sons. Miracle Creek is her debut novel.

Read an Excerpt



SHE FELT LIKE A BRIDE walking into the courtroom. Certainly, her wedding was the last time — the only time — that a roomful of people had fallen silent and turned to stare as she entered. If it weren't for the variety in hair color and the snippets of whispers in English as she walked down the aisle — "Look, the owners," "The daughter was in a coma for months, poor thing," "He's paralyzed, so awful" — she might have thought she was still in Korea.

The small courtroom even looked like an old church, with creaky wooden pews on both sides of the aisle. She kept her head down, just as she had at her wedding twenty years ago; she wasn't usually the focus of attention, and it felt wrong. Modesty, blending in, invisibility: those were the virtues of wives, not notoriety and gaudiness. Wasn't that why brides wore veils — to protect them from stares, to mute the redness of their cheeks? She glanced to the sides. On the right, behind the prosecution, she glimpsed familiar faces, those of their patients' families.

The patients had all gathered together only once: last July, at the orientation outside the barn. Her husband had opened the doors to show the freshly painted blue chamber. "This," Pak said, looking proud, "is Miracle Submarine. Pure oxygen. Deep pressure. Healing. Together." Everyone clapped. Mothers cried. And now, here were the same people, somber, the hope of miracle gone from their faces, replaced by the curiosity of people reaching for tabloids in supermarket lines. That and pity — for her or themselves, she didn't know. She'd expected anger, but they smiled as she walked by, and she had to remind herself that she was a victim here. She was not the defendant, not the one they blamed for the explosion that killed two patients. She told herself what Pak told her every day — their absence from the barn that night didn't cause the fire, and he couldn't have prevented the explosion even if he'd stayed with the patients — and tried to smile back. Their support was a good thing. She knew that. But it felt undeserved, wrong, like a prize won by cheating, and instead of buoying her, it weighed her down with worry that God would see and correct the injustice, make her pay for her lies some other way.

When Young reached the wooden railing, she fought her impulse to hop across and sit at the defense table. She sat with her family behind the prosecutor, next to Matt and Teresa, two of the people trapped in Miracle Submarine that night. She hadn't seen them in a long time, not since the hospital. But no one said hi. They all looked down. They were the victims.

* * *

THE COURTHOUSE WAS in Pineburg, the town next to Miracle Creek. It was strange, the names — the opposite of what you'd expect. Miracle Creek 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 "Miracle" name and its marketing possibilities (plus cheap land) had drawn them there despite there being no other Asians — no immigrants at all, probably. It was only an hour from Washington, D.C., an easy drive from dense concentrations of modernity such as Dulles Airport, but it had the isolated feel of a village hours from civilization, an entirely different world. Dirt trails instead of concrete sidewalks. Cows rather than cars. Decrepit wooden barns, not steel-and-glass high-rises. Like stepping into a grainy black-and-white film. It had that feel of being used and discarded; the first time Young saw it, she had an impulse to find every bit of trash in her pockets and throw it as far as she could.

Pineburg, despite its plain name and proximity to Miracle Creek, was charming, its narrow cobblestone streets lined with chalet-style shops, each painted a different bright color. Looking at Main Street's row of shops reminded Young of her favorite market in Seoul, its legendary produce row — spinach green, pepper red, beet purple, persimmon orange. From its description, she would've thought it garish, but it was the opposite — as if putting the brash colors together subdued each one, so the overall feel was elegant and lovely.

The courthouse was at the base of a knoll, flanked by grapevines planted in straight lines up the hill. The geometric precision provided a measured calm, and it seemed fitting that a building of justice would stand amid the ordered rows of vines.

That morning, gazing at the courthouse, its tall white columns, Young had thought how this was the closest she'd been to the America she'd expected. In Korea, after Pak decided she should move to Baltimore with Mary, she'd gone to bookstores and looked through pictures of America — the Capitol, Manhattan skyscrapers, Inner Harbor. In her five years in America, she hadn't seen any of those sights. For the first four years, she'd worked in a grocery store two miles from Inner Harbor, but in a neighborhood people called the "ghetto," houses boarded up and broken bottles everywhere. A tiny vault of bulletproof glass: that had been America for her.

It was funny how desperate she'd been to escape that gritty world, and yet she missed it now. Miracle Creek was insular, with longtime residents (going back generations, they said). She thought they might be slow to warm, so she focused on befriending one family nearby who'd seemed especially nice. But over time, she realized: they weren't nice; they were politely unfriendly. Young knew the type. Her own mother had belonged to this breed of people who used manners to cover up unfriendliness the way people used perfume to cover up body odor — the worse it was, the more they used. Their stiff hyperpoliteness — the wife's perpetual closed-lip smile, the husband's ma'am at the beginning or end of every sentence — kept Young at a distance and reinforced her status as a stranger. Although her most frequent customers in Baltimore had been cantankerous, cursing and complaining about everything from the prices being too high to the sodas too warm and deli meats too thin, there was an honesty to their rudeness, a comfortable intimacy to their yelling. Like bickering siblings. Nothing to cover up.

After Pak joined them in America last year, they'd looked for housing in Annandale, the D.C. area's Koreatown — a manageable drive from Miracle Creek. The fire had stopped all that, and they were still in their "temporary" housing. A crumbling shack in a crumbling town far from anything pictured in the books. To this day, the fanciest place Young had been in America was the hospital where Pak and Mary had lain for months after the explosion.

* * *

THE COURTROOM WAS LOUD. Not the people — the victims, lawyers, journalists, and who knew who else — but the two old-fashioned window-unit air conditioners on opposite sides behind the judge. They sputtered like lawn mowers when they switched on and off, which, because they weren't synchronized, happened at different times — one, then the other, then back again, like some strange mechanical beasts' mating calls. When the units ran, they rattled and hummed, each at a slightly different pitch, making Young's eardrums itch. She wanted to stick her pinkie deep inside her ear into her brain and scratch.

The lobby plaque said the courthouse was a 250-year-old historical landmark and asked for donations to the Pineburg Courthouse Preservation Society. Young had shaken her head at the thought of this society, an entire group whose sole purpose was to prevent this building from becoming modern. Americans were so proud of things being a few hundred years old, as if things being old were a value in and of itself. (Of course, this philosophy did not extend to people.) They didn't seem to realize that the world valued America precisely because it was not old, but modern and new. Koreans were the opposite. In Seoul, there would be a Modernization Society dedicated to replacing this courthouse's "antique" hardwood floors and pine tables with marble and sleek steel.

"All rise. Skyline County Criminal Court now in session, the Honorable Frederick Carleton III presiding," the bailiff said, and everyone stood. Except Pak. His hands clenched his wheelchair's armrests, the green veins on his hands and wrists popping up as if willing his arms to support his body's weight. Young started to help, but she stopped herself, knowing that needing help for something basic like standing would be worse for him than not standing at all. Pak cared so much about appearances, conforming to rules and expectations — the quintessentially Korean things she'd strangely never cared about (because her family's wealth afforded her the luxury of being immune to them, Pak would say). Still, she understood his frustration, being the lone sitting figure in this towering crowd. It made him vulnerable, like a child, and she had to fight the urge to cloak his body with her arms and hide his shame.

"The court will now come to order. Docket number 49621, Commonwealth of Virginia versus Elizabeth Ward," the judge said, and banged the gavel. As if by plan, both air conditioners were off, and the sound of wood striking wood reverberated off the slanted ceilings and lingered in the silence.

It was official: Elizabeth was the defendant. Young felt a tingle inside her chest, like some dormant cell of relief and hope had burst and was spreading sparks of electricity throughout her body, zapping away the fear that had hijacked her life. Even though almost a year had passed since Pak was cleared and Elizabeth arrested, Young hadn't quite believed it, had wondered if this was a trick, and if today, as the trial started, they'd announce her and Pak as the real targets. But now the waiting was over, and after several days of evidence — "overwhelming evidence," the prosecutor said — Elizabeth would be found guilty, and they'd get their insurance money and rebuild their lives. No more living in stasis.

The jurors filed in. Young gazed at them, these people — all twelve, seven men and five women — who believed in capital punishment and swore they were willing to vote for death by lethal injection. Young had learned this last week. The prosecutor had been in a particularly good mood, and when she asked why, he'd explained that the potential jurors most likely to be sympathetic to Elizabeth had been dismissed because they were anti-death-penalty.

"Death penalty? Like hanging?" she'd said.

Her alarm and revulsion must have shown, because Abe stopped smiling. "No, by injection, drugs in an IV. It's painless."

He'd explained that Elizabeth wouldn't necessarily get death, it was just a possibility, but still, she'd dreaded seeing Elizabeth here, the terror that would surely be on her face, confronting the people with the power to end her life.

Now, Young forced herself to look at Elizabeth, at the defense table. She looked like a lawyer herself, her blond hair twisted into a bun, dark green suit, pearls, pumps. Young had almost looked past her, she looked so different from before — messy ponytail, wrinkled sweats, unmatched socks.

It was ironic — of all the parents of their patients, Elizabeth had been the most disheveled, and yet she'd had by far the most manageable child. Henry, her only child, had been a well-mannered boy who, unlike many other patients, could walk, talk, was toilet-trained, and didn't have tantrums. During orientation, when the mother of twins with autism and epilepsy asked Elizabeth, "Sorry, but what's Henry here for? He seems so normal," she'd frowned as if offended. She recited a list — OCD, ADHD, sensory and autism spectrum disorders, anxiety — then said how hard it was, spending all her days researching experimental treatments. She seemed to have no clue how she sounded complaining while surrounded by kids with wheelchairs and feeding tubes.

Judge Carleton asked Elizabeth to stand. She expected Elizabeth to cry as he read the charges, or at least blush, her eyes down. But Elizabeth looked straight at the jury, her cheeks unflushed, eyes unblinking. She studied Elizabeth's face, so empty of expression, wondering if she was numb, in shock. But instead of looking vacant, Elizabeth looked serene. Almost happy. Perhaps it was because she was so used to Elizabeth's worried frowns that their absence made Elizabeth look contented.

Or perhaps the newspapers were right. Perhaps Elizabeth had been desperate to get rid of her son, and now that he was dead, she finally had a measure of peace. Perhaps she had been a monster all along.



HE WOULD'VE GIVEN ANYTHING not to be here today. Maybe not his entire right arm, but certainly one of its three remaining fingers. He was already a freak with missing fingers — what was one more? He did not want to see reporters, cameras flashing when he made the mistake of covering his face with his hands — he cringed, picturing how the flash would reflect off the glossy scar tissue covering the doughy clump that remained of his right hand. He did not want to hear whispers of "Look, the infertile doctor," or face Abe, the prosecutor, who'd once looked at him, head tilted as if studying a puzzle, and asked, "Have you and Janine considered adoption? I hear Korea has lots of half-white babies." He did not want to chat with his in-laws, the Chos, who tsked and lowered their eyes in unison at the sight of his injuries, or hear Janine rail at them for their shame over any perceived defect, which she'd diagnose as yet another of their "typically Korean" prejudices and intolerances. Most of all, he did not want to see anyone from Miracle Submarine, not the other patients, not Elizabeth, and definitely, most certainly, not Mary Yoo.

Abe stood and, walking by, put his hand on Young's, draped across the railing. He patted gently, and she smiled. Pak clenched his teeth, and when Abe smiled at him, Pak stretched his lips as if trying to smile but not quite managing it. Matt guessed that Pak, like his own Korean father-in-law, did not approve of African-Americans and thought it one of America's great flaws that it had an African-American president.

He'd been surprised when he met Abe. Miracle Creek and Pineburg seemed so provincial and white. The jury was all white. The judge was white. Police, firemen — white. This wasn't the kind of place he'd expect to have a black prosecutor. Then again, it wasn't the kind of place anyone would expect to have a Korean immigrant running a mini-submarine as a so-called medical device, but there it was.

"Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, my name is Abraham Patterley. I am the prosecutor. I represent the Commonwealth of Virginia against the defendant, Elizabeth Ward." Abe pointed his right index finger at Elizabeth, and she startled, as if she hadn't known that she was the accused. Matt stared at Abe's index finger, wondered what Abe would do if he, like Matt, lost it. Right before the amputation, the surgeon had said, "Thank God your career's not too affected by it. Imagine being a pianist or surgeon." Matt had thought about that a lot. What job could one have and not be too affected by amputation of the right index and middle fingers? He would've put lawyers in the category of "not too affected," but now, looking at Elizabeth withering under Abe's simple gesture of pointing at her, the power that finger gave Abe, he wasn't sure.

"Why is Elizabeth Ward here today? You've already heard the charges. Arson, battery, attempted murder." Abe stared at Elizabeth before turning his body square to the jury box. "Murder."

"The victims sit here, ready and eager to tell you what happened to them" — Abe motioned to the front row — "and to the defendant's two ultimate victims: Kitt Kozlowski, the defendant's longtime friend, and Henry Ward, the defendant's own eight-year-old son, who can't tell you themselves, because they are dead.

"Miracle Submarine's oxygen tank exploded at about 8:25 p.m. 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.

"The defendant was supposed to be inside with her son. But she wasn't. She told everyone she was sick. Headache, congestion, the works. She asked Kitt, the mother of another patient, to watch Henry while she rested. She took wine she'd packed to the creek nearby. She smoked a cigarette of the same type and brand that started the fire, using the same type and brand of matches that started the fire."

Abe looked at the jurors. "All of what I just told you is undisputed."

Abe closed his mouth and paused for emphasis. "Un-dis-pu-ted," he said, enunciating it like four separate words. "The defendant here" — he pointed that index finger again at her — "admits all this, that she intentionally stayed outside, faking an illness, and when her son and friend were being incinerated inside, she was sipping wine, smoking using the same match and cigarette used to set the blast, and listening to Beyoncé on her iPod."


Excerpted from "Miracle Creek"
by .
Copyright © 2019 Angela Suyeon Kim.
Excerpted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Title Page,
Copyright Notice,
The Incident,
A Year Later: The Trial: Day One,
Young Yoo,
Matt Thompson,
Teresa Santiago,
Pak Yoo,
Mary Yoo,
Elizabeth Ward,
The Trial: Day Two,
Janine Cho,
The Trial: Day Three,
The Trial: Day Four,
A Note About the Author,

Reading Group Guide

1. In the opening chapter of Miracle Creek, Young Yoo narrates her version of events on the evening of the HBOT explosion. What is the effect of this first-person narrative compared with the rest of the book, which is written in the third person? What are the details in Young’s story that create suspense? What does Young know that hints at the truth about what happened? What information is she missing?

2. Abe Patterley, the prosecuting attorney, calls Dr. Matt Thompson as his first witness against Elizabeth Ward. What dual purpose does Matt’s testimony serve? What does it reveal about Matt—what he believes about the effectiveness of HBOT and how he came to be undergoing treatments, as well as his personal life? What is Matt afraid of divulging in court?

3. What are some of the differences between American and Korean culture that the book explores? How are these experienced by Matt and Janine? By the Yoo family? How are the Korean characters stereotyped by others? How do they defy stereotype?

4. As the trial proceeds, the defense and prosecuting attorneys attempt to re-create the time line leading to the explosion. What are some of the lies and false assumptions contained in the testimony of witnesses and experts? What is the circumstantial evidence that led to Elizabeth’s arrest? How does each of the lawyers try to influence the jury?

5. Autism is diagnosed on a spectrum with a wide variation in symptoms, as evidenced by TJ Kozlowski and Henry Ward. In Miracle Creek, the mothers of autistic children are portrayed as having a wide range of beliefs about treatments for their children. What do Kitt, Elizabeth, and Ruth Weiss each believe about treatments? What are the circumstances of Kitt’s and Elizabeth’s lives that influence their behavior?

6. On the day of the explosion, as well as during the trial, many of the characters make decisions that ultimately change the course of their lives. What are some of these decisions? How might things have turned out differently if, for example, Matt hadn’t bought cigarettes, or Janine hadn’t gone to see Mary?

7. Pak Young is described as a “wild goose father,” a man who remains in Korea to work while his wife and children move abroad for better education. Pak will make any sacrifice for Mary. Who are the other fathers in the story and what are their relationships with their wives and children? What is the picture of fatherhood that emerges?

8. What is the reality of being the mother of a special needs child? How do Elizabeth, Teresa, and Kitt each cope with the daily demands of caregiving? Where do they find support? What are their relationships with each other? Elizabeth, in particular, devotes herself to Henry. What is her motivation for constantly seeking new therapies, some of which are painful and possibly harmful? How does Kitt feel about Elizabeth’s treatment of Henry? What does Elizabeth realize as she watches the video of Henry? Why does she take the drastic action she takes at the end of the novel?

9. Several small and seemingly insignificant objects are important to the development of the book’s characters and the unfolding of the plot—for example, Janine’s wok and the balloons. What are some of the others and the purposes they serve?

10. Each of the main characters feels guilty about something he or she did or failed to do. Why is Young relieved on the first day of the trial when the judge announces, “Docket number 49621, Commonwealth of Virginia versus Elizabeth Ward”? What are Pak and Young, Matt and Janine, hiding from Abe Patterley? At the book’s conclusion, is there anyone who can be described as completely innocent? Did any good come of the tragedy?

11. What brought Young and Pak from Seoul to Baltimore and, ultimately, to Miracle Creek? What is Young’s first impression of the United States and its citizens? How were the Yoo family’s expectations of America different from the realities? How were Young, Pak, and Mary different as individuals and as a family before they immigrated?

12. As Day Three of the trial ends, Young and Matt are each determined to learn the truth about what their spouses have been hiding. What has Young discovered that causes her to doubt Pak? Why does Pak continue to lie to her? What has Matt discovered about Janine? What lies do Matt and Janine persist in telling each other?

13. On Day Four of the trial, Abe introduces as evidence “a blow-up of notepad paper, phrases scrawled everywhere,” taken from Elizabeth’s house after the explosion. In particular, there are five phrases on the page, highlighted in yellow: I can’t do this anymore; I need my life back; It needs to end TODAY!!; Henry = victim? How?; and NO MORE HBOT, which has been circled several times. What was Elizabeth’s frame of mind when she wrote these notes to herself? What is the truth about the last day of Henry’s life?

14. Shannon and Abe appear to be skillful and highly ethical attorneys. In order to do their jobs, they have no choice but to believe their witnesses as they build their cases. Do either of them doubt any of the information they’ve been given? What tactics do each of them use to influence the jury? Which one of them seems closer to winning the case when Elizabeth’s disappearance puts an end to the trial?

15. What is the chain of events that turns Mary’s teenaged feelings of anger and humiliation into the actions she takes on the night of the explosion? How does Pak rationalize his plan for saving her? Should Matt and Janine have been held accountable for how they treated her?

16. Were you surprised to discover the identity of the person who set the fire? Do you view what that person did as murder? Was that person’s sentence fair? How about the sentences of the others?

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Miracle Creek 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful book, loved every word, page , chapter, paragraph! Look forward to more beautiful stories from this very talented author! Highly recommend!
Bonnie Franks More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. The story, the stories within the story. The possibilities, the possibilities within the possibilities. I loved that it was told from several viewpoints. I loved that it kept me on the edge of my seat all the time. All the time. I had theory after theory after theory, etc. It was such a great read in that aspect,. I loved characters and some not so much. It had all the bases covered. It is heart-wrenching, mysterious, true to life, forgiving, unforgiving, warm, and at times, very uncomfortable. How can you beat that? Answer is....you can't. Read this book. First chance you get. My copy of this book was provided to me by Net Galley and the publisher, for which I thank them.
HollyLovesBooks4 More than 1 year ago
I requested this one on NetGalley for the express purpose of being able to give my review but I had already chosen it from BOTM. So, with that being said, I chose correctly. This is an outstanding novel that is well paced and intriguing. It offers a very believable plotline, a family that has immigrated to Miracle Creek sets up a treatment center using hyperbaric oxygen tanks to do "dives" to treat all sorts of conditions, but primarily psychiatric and neurologic disorders of childhood. One day, the operator of the center leaves the center in the hands of his wife who is less than certain of her ability to manage. She does not feel confident in running the show and naturally things go wrong. This is only the first few pages. The real story unfolds in following the trial and what happens after. This is a terrific read and I highly recommend it. #MiracleCreek #NetGalley
suekitty13 More than 1 year ago
Miracle Creek – Come for the tricky mystery and courtroom drama, stay for the characters I’m not sure that any review from me will do this book justice because it absolutely blew me away! I can’t believe this is a debut novel because it’s just so well constructed and written. This is a complicated, detailed story and there is not a thread dropped or an improbable potential suspect in the bunch. The author has done such a great job with the mystery that I was suspicious of everyone at some point and was still surprised by the final reveal. I was sure I knew who set the fire but then changed my mind over and over. The story is revealed piece by piece in courtroom scenes and flashbacks. I don’t know about you but when I see “courtroom scenes” I automatically think “boring.” That is definitely not the case here as the testimony triggers memories and confessions and it is exciting to see the real story through the lies. As the truth comes out we see just how many secrets are held in this small group of seemingly perfectly normal and rather good people. While the story is amazing this book really shines through its characters. They felt like they were real and my heart broke for them so many times. This is not a particularly happy story and a lot of awful stuff happens. These characters and their relationships are the heart of the book and it is an emotional and touching story. The basic premise of treating autistic children in a hyperbaric chamber was something I wasn’t aware of, although I know it is used for many different conditions. I think my exposure to other media has given me the impression that people with autism are often geniuses and can live fairly normal lives, as authors, doctors, detectives. My eyes have been opened to the reality of the condition in children. It is much more difficult than I ever imagined. It is all portrayed so authentically and I see in her bio that the author has a child that undergoes “submarine” treatment. She knows what she is talking about and it shows. There is never any preaching but I sure learned a lot through this story. The caretakers of children with disabilities or autism deserve a medal for their selflessness and seemingly endless patience. This emotional roller-coaster will haunt me for a long time and I think it has ruined oxygen therapy for me forever. Thank you to Farrar, Straus and Giroux for providing an Electronic Advance Reader Copy via NetGalley for review.
Elena_L More than 1 year ago
"Miracle Creek" is beyond expectations, this book is a fabulous debut! At first, when I read the synopsis, I had no idea that this novel would be so good! The hype is completely real! This courtroom drama is so complex - taking place in a small town of Miracle Creek (Virginia), it follows the trial of Elizabeth, whose son was killed inexplicably after the Miracle Submarine (a pressurized oxygen chamber that treat patients with issues like autism or infertility) mysteriously explodes. The plot is full of drama - there are layers of lies, secrets and events that you want to unpeel which make this book unputdownable. In addition, the multiple points of view give you different perspectives of the puzzle and allow you to get the whole picture in the ending. I praise the author for creating this authentic plot with lots of twists and turns through an amazing writing. The characters are fully developed - I loved that the author introduced the Korean immigrants in this novel. While I didn't particularly prefer one to another, each character was crucial to the story. With a balance of moments that will make you get invested and also move you heart, "Miracle Creek" is an incredible debut that you don't want to pass up! [I received an ARC from Netgalley and all opinions are my own]
LuvSnoop42 More than 1 year ago
This is a DEBUT??? UNBELIEVABLE!!! I was not sure about this one going in. I read a lot of details about it beforehand, Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, immigration, autism, but mystery/legal thriller stood out so I gave it a shot. WOW!!! I can't say enough! This is all of the above and SO much more! I am still thinking about it. I'm so happy that I went out of my comfort zone and gave this a shot! Thank you to #NetGalley, Angie Kim and Sarah Crichton Books for this Digital ARC!!!
JulieMT More than 1 year ago
This was an incredible book that I enjoyed much more then I would have ever predicted! Miracle Creek tells the story of a woman on trial charged with murder as the result of a fire in a hyperbaric chamber (a pressurized oxygen chamber!). The fired killed two people and injured others. It is however so much more than that! With the trial as a background, the author develops a rich and textured story that examines the love and sacrifice that comes with family. This examination is as nuanced and complex as love and family really are. The book flawlessly weaves together two seemingly unrelated struggles, that of an immigrant family struggling for survival in a new country and the struggle of families with autistic children. What we find however is that these struggles are not unrelated at all. These struggles are born from each families single-minded determination that their children will have a fulfilling life and reach their maximum potential. Nothing is simple in this novel, and for that reason, it is an incredible journey. Miracle Creek is absolutely a book worth reading and one that will stay with you long after you have read the last page. I thoroughly recommend it! I was honored to receive a free copy of this book by NetGalley and the Publisher, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux in exchange for an honest review.
Abrielle_Emory More than 1 year ago
I ordered this book on a whim without reading the reviews. I expected it to be the standard mystery, with a typical ending I would predict or not be shocked by when the last chapter rolled around. However, the character development left me guessing until the end and even then, I still had so many questions about why and how things happened. The ending was satisfying and covered all of the open-endings left throughout the book. Angie Kim did a phenomenal job with keeping the trial's results hidden and unclear throughout the novel. For those who like mysteries, this unconventional murder mystery is a go-to that I will be reading again and recommending to all.
SheTreadsSoftly More than 1 year ago
Miracle Creek by Angie Kim is a very highly recommended twisty legal thriller and a notable debut novel. Young and Pak Yoo and their teenage daughter Mary are an immigrant family from Korea who run a private experimental medical treatment facility in rural Miracle Creek, Virginia. Their "Miracle Submarine" is a pressurized oxygen chamber for hyperbaric oxygen therapy or HBOT, which involves breathing pure, pressurized oxygen. Patients enter the chamber for "dives" that are believed to treat a wide range of issues and medical conditions. Their chamber is located in a barn behind their home. A fire, clearly arson, occurs, which causes the submarine to catch fire and explode, killing two people and injuring four others. What or who caused the explosion is the focus of this legal thriller. A single mother of one of the patients who died is being charged with murder in the opening scenes. Her actions seem clearly suspect, but this is a complicated story with many suspects. As the trial starts the list of suspects, the secrets and the lies being told seem to multiply. As Kim develops the backstory of all her characters, new information and complications emerge, and the list of suspects grows ever longer as the plot becomes increasingly complicated. Miracle Creek is an irresistible page turner, merging a dramatic murder trial with in-depth character studies and compelling courtroom scenes. All of the characters have secrets and information they are hiding from that night, but the complications are even more intricate than just a simple omission of a single fact. The suspects will change as you are reading and more facts and secrets come forth. You will feel some empathy or sympathy for all of the characters at least once. All of the lies and omissions will make sense if you have ever encountered a person who always makes themselves look good during all events and can never admit flaws. Even the way the lawyers can twist facts to benefit their clients is telling. The writing is absolutely excellent and the plot is the perfect synthesis of character development, a complicated mystery, and a legal thriller. I was entrenched in the complicated, detailed plot and really had no clear idea who was guilty or if it would be a perfect storm of lies and mistakes that led to the explosion. The final denouement is very satisfying and ties up all loose ends. This is a brilliant debut novel. Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Rachel Bennett More than 1 year ago
“That was the thing about lies: they demanded commitment.” This was an absolutely amazing book. There are so many characters, themes, and stories contained within that I hardly know where to start. It feels like it would be a huge injustice to overlook any of the themes, but this book is absolutely full of amazing concepts. It's being marketed for fans of Celeste Ng and while I don't normally like these sorts of comparisons I can confidently say that if you loved either of Celeste Ng's books, you will enjoy Miracle Creek. First off, the summary. A Korean immigrant family settled in a small Virginia town start an HBOT tank in their yard - that is, a medical chamber that employs hyperbaric oxygen therapy, thought by many to cure all sorts of injuries and maladies. Families in the book are there seeking treatment for infertility, autism, and cerebral palsy. The first point of real interest for me with this is that Kim has personal experience with HBOT, and a lot of the stories that she experienced while in the tank with her son were adapted into characters in the book. (See: https://www.vogue.com/article/angie-kim-hbot-treatment) The instigating event to the drama of the story is when the tank catches fire in an oxygen explosion, and people are hurt. After getting the events of the fire, we immediately jump ahead a year where someone associated with the HBOT treatments is on trial for the murder of two, and causing injury to many others who were wounded in the explosion. The rest of the book plays out as a courtroom drama, which is not something I thought I would be interested in. However, Kim uses the courtroom as the perfect setting to slowly reveal secrets that change everything about the case - and it is not a spoiler at all to say that literally EVERYONE has been keeping secrets as they relate to the events of that day. This was my favorite part of the book, watching new information come to light as people desperately try to cover up any guilt in the fire and hold tight to their secrets. This keeps us as the reader in constant suspense, as we never really know who is guilty. I will say that I guessed one major twist but there were tons of other things exposed and decisions made that I was definitely not expecting. The last thing I'll say about this book is that I think it makes a powerful statement about the lives of people who care for those with disability. Several of the major players in this story are young children living with autism and cerebral palsy and their mothers. Perhaps due to her own experience as a caretaker to a child with chronic illness, Kim spends a lot of time examining the lives and feelings of these mothers whose entire lives have been taken over by their child's illness, treatments, and everything that comes along with that. This is not something that I have personally experienced but I felt like I grew in empathy for those in this situation.
LeslieLindsay 13 days ago
A literary courtroom thriller about an immigrant family, a fascinating medical exploration, secrets, lies, and more MIRACLE CREEK (April 2019) is such a powerhouse of a novel from Angie Kim, I was seriously questioning whether it was truly a debut, it's that good. In rural Miracle Creek, Virginia, Young and her husband, Pak Yoo run a an experimental medical treatment, hyperbaric chamber known as 'the miracle submarine.' It's a pressurized oxygen chamber patients enter for therapeutic reasons--the 'dives' could potentially cure anything from autism to infertility, and a few things in between. But the chamber mysteriously explodes, killing two people, and injuring several others. The book opens with such a compelling and propulsive line--"My husband asked me to lie." And thus, we're thrown into the world of MIRACLE CREEK, where no one and everyone is honest. Secrets are kept, lies are ignored; concealment becomes the standard. I found the writing hugely enjoyable, lush and poetic, snappy, and witty, at times The author does an amazing job of building layers, adding in smart twists, and the courtroom drama is second to none. I mean, wow. Told from multiple POVs, we 'dive' (yes, pun intended) into several character's experiences, mothers raising special needs children (and the long, exhausting days, the maternal guilt and wishes for a different life), and also an infertile physician, the life of Korean immigrant family, and so much more. I found reading MIRACLE CREEK immensely enjoyable, but also a little exhausting. There are a lot of 'facts' to keep straight, courtroom details/banter, and more. And it's so well done. I haven't read anything set in a courtroom this good since DEFENDING JACOB (William Landay), but was also reminded of the style of Celeste Ng (especially in LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE) meets Jodi Piccout. L.Lindsay|Always with a Book
KindigBlog More than 1 year ago
The Miracle Submarine is a new development by Korean immigrant Pak Yoo, who claims to be able to cure a variety of illnesses and diseases using pure oxygen. However, when the tank explodes during a session, the spotlight is shone on anyone who may have benefited from the accident… Miracle Creek is a book that has had a lot of hype surrounding it as shown by it’s Amazon post which boasts ‘the most anticipated book of 2019’. I have seen so many 5 stars reviews on Goodreads from friends and strangers that made me very excited to have this book in my TBR. This may have led to me having high expectations going in though which ultimately ended in some disappointment. The plot is certainly unusual for a courtroom drama and it’s a good premise – using a technology I had never heard of – a pure oxygen hyper chamber which is meant to cure a range of problems from infertility to autism. The premise was great and I liked the wide range of characters that the scenario introduced us to. The story also really delved into what it must be like for women who are mothers to children with extreme learning difficulties and illnesses, I also liked how it explored cultural expectations for all members of immigrant families. I liked how the book bounced me around trying to work out who was the perpetrator – there were so many red herrings and possible suspects that it was hard to guess. I guess my main problem was that it was a little drawn out in places. For example, in the court room the detective’s methods of suspicion is typed out 4 times in full (with little additions, as if on a whiteboard). This felt patronising to the reader and got tedious at times. Also the constant red herrings also got a little waring as time went on. What started out as a read that got me hooked eventually made me impatient to get it finished by the end. Overall, Miracle Creek is a good courtroom drama on an interesting subject, it just gets a little too drawn out in places. Thank you to NetGalley and Hodder & Stoughton for the chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Bojoura More than 1 year ago
Is there anything left to say about Miracle Creek that has not been said? A perfect combination of courtroom drama, who dunnit and family troubles. A solid mystery read and there is no stopping once you start reading. I'm very impressed because this is a debut novel. It did not take me long to get lost into this intriguing storyline. 7 characters will make you wonder what caused the explosion in the oxygen chamber called miracle submarine. And who caused it and why? I recommend it to everybody who likes real and believable characters and solid scenario's.
Monnie777 More than 1 year ago
So I found this book starts off slow. It does pick up about half way through. Overall I did enjoy it. It was definitely I different idea of something bad happening. Everyone lies throughout this book. It's trying to figure out what those lies are and who really started the fire. There is a lot of courtroom drama but even more drama outside of the courtroom. If you like courtroom dramas and trying to figure out a mystery then pick up this book. *I received a free copy of this book via Netgalley and am voluntarily leaving a review.*
Alfoster More than 1 year ago
I admit that I'm drawn to heart-wrenching books and many that make me ugly cry, but I was sobbing at the end of this lovely debut. It got me thinking about the Autism Spectrum as the novel deals with several autistic kids whose parents seek "the miracle submarine" (which is in reality a hyperbaric chamber) in order to promote healing, as breathing in 100% oxygen is thought to repair damaged cells quickly. But in reality, aren't there actually many "spectrums" in life? Isn't there a Love Spectrum and at any given time you may find yourself at any end of it or somewhere in the middle? Or a Guilt Spectrum where you may experience mild guilt or the gut-wrenching kind that eats away at your conscience? Kim speaks to so many issues in this novel which is so beautifully written that you can't tear yourself away. Parenting and relationships are difficult no matter how competent we are and there will be missteps along the way where we misjudge and are misjudged. So even though this book centers around a murder trial with many perspectives, the deeper issues beneath the surface are what make the novel so poignant and rich in its voice. It is truly a gem; just keep the tissues handy! Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC!
TUDORQUEEN More than 1 year ago
I decided to read this after noticing what seemed like a tsunami of stellar early reviews on Goodreads. My initial instincts told me that I wasn't interested in this story, and perhaps I should have listened to them. Most of my Goodreads friends love murder mysteries, police procedurals and courtroom dramas, but those are not my genres of interest. This is a story of a Korean family consisting of a husband, wife and high school age daughter who are recent immigrants to the United States. They are very hard-working people, still trying to improve their quality of life in the United States while building a business. They created a service called "Miracle Submarine" where patients came to their barn in Miracle Creek for hydrogen bariatric oxygen therapy (HBOT). The focus is on several patients: two children with autism, one suffering brain damage after contracting a virus, and a gentleman with infertility issues. The book begins one fateful morning which is recounted a year later, the reader aware that a horrible incident occurred, and you're taken through each critical moment that added up to a tragedy. This was actually my favorite part of the book; the riveting second by second telling of how the HBOT tank caught fire. The implication hangs in the air from the beginning that the entire truth hasn't been told to law enforcement from the various remaining living parties involved in the incident. A court trial is in process where a parent of one of the HBOT patients is being charged for the crime, and at first it seems like an open and shut case. However, as the book progresses with dueling chapters from the other people involved in the machinations of that day, it becomes more confusing as to who is really at fault. The sacrifice, hard work, and extreme patience required to be a caregiver- to be a parent of a disabled child- was explored to great effect. I thought that was an important message in the book- that of course you love your child, but you are also a human being and you get tired and get affected by seeing other parents who live more normal lives than you do. I enjoyed reading about these imperfect lives and relationships from all angles more than the courtroom drama and intrigue. Reading the postscript to this book I learned that this debut author was also a Korean immigrant and lived close to the location used in the book. This was well-written and I would take heed of the rave reviews garnered by this book. I must be an outlier, because it was just an OK read for me and not my preferred genre. Thank you to the publisher Hodder & Stoughton who provided an advance reader copy via NetGalley.
miareese More than 1 year ago
Wow, I went through a rollercoaster of emotions throughout this story. Kim created a heartbreaking story and characters who you feel sorry for, sympathize with, and are angry at, all in the course of a few hundred pages. This book is so much more than a courtroom drama or murder mystery, and if you're even a little interested in reading it, I 100% encourage it. I'm sure you'll be as blown away as I was.
5669317 More than 1 year ago
I received this ARC from the publisher and netgalley for my honest review. This books has been described as a courtroom drama similar to a Jodi Picoult novel. Of course that piqued my interest as a big Jodi Picoult fan. This book definitely held its own in the courtroom novel world. The author moved from the courtroom to the past to the present in a seamless and very follow-able way. The use of a medical hyperbaric chamber as the backdrop to a mystery is very creative and the plot kept me guessing almost to the end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SammyReadsBooks More than 1 year ago
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.
GGGeiss More than 1 year ago
Angie Kim......put her on your author radar. This book is meticulously written with well developed characters and a detailed and interesting plot, that is filled with twists and turns. Angie Kim’s attention to detail is impressive. The reader has a lot to absorb but is never lost. She layers and builds without confusion. As you read this novel, you are forced to contemplate who, what, when? My reviews reflect my opinion of the read and do not describe details of the book. Those can be obtained by reading a synopsis on the inside cover. I enjoyed this book and I thank Netgalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this ARC.
bookluvr35SL More than 1 year ago
Pak Yoo runs a pressurized oxygen chamber out of a barn behind his house. The MIracle Submarine, as they call it, is considered an experimental treatment, used in hopes of curing things such as autism and infertility. One evening, at the end of one of the sessions, something goes horribly wrong. There is an explosion and some of the patients get trapped in the fire. It is discovered that arson was to blame, and they charge one of the parents with murder. As the trial progresses, white lies are uncovered and alibis fall through. Everyone has a motive or a secret to hide. This book kept me guessing until the end. Every time I thought I knew who set the fire, a new secret would come to light. The first chapter (which covered the explosion in great detail) was hard to read, and a little gruesome. The rest of the book covered the trail, though, and was much more enjoyable. This would be a good fit for fans of Jodi Piccoult and Carla Buckley.
DeediReads More than 1 year ago
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC of this book! Miracle Creek was a great read. An intriguing whodunnit with so many layers to the crime and to the entire cast of characters, it kept me guessing — suspecting, but not knowing — all the way up until the end. And it also broke my heart and showed real humanity throughout. The story begins on the day of the explosion. Young Yoo is helping her husband, Pak, at the Miracle Submarine — a pressurized oxygen tank that delivers pure oxygen to those inside for a “dive.” This is supposed to help the cells heal more quickly than they would on their own, and the Yoos’ patients include those with autism, cerebral palsy, infertility, etc. But that day, everything spirals out of control, and the barn housing the Miracle Submarine explodes. Fast forward to a year later, and the mother of one of the children who’d been inside at the time of the explosion is on trial. He and another child’s mother had been killed, and the police believe his mother was tired of caring for a special-needs child, wanted her life back, and strategically placed a lit cigarette on top of a pile of kindling under the oxygen tube so that her child would die. But as the trial begins, we see that it’s probably not that simple. So many others — the doctor who’d been in the dive to cure his infertility and who’d had a secret friendship (half a wink wink here) with the Yoos’ daughter Mary, the doctor’s wife, another mother who’d been inside the tank, Young, Mary, Pak — all weave their narrative together until nobody (whether inside the story or just reading it) is sure of anything anymore. Who lit the fire? And why? What emerges from this tangled web of information are a few themes: - Motherhood, in all its forms. Whether it’s Young and Mary’s complicated relationship, or the demand, competition, stress, guilt, and joy that comes with parenting a special-needs child, it’s all in there. - Immigration. Mary and Young immigrated to the US from Korea when Mary was young, and Pak stayed behind. This splintered their family in more ways than one. - Racism. Everyone who either is or is related/married to someone from Korea is touched by racism in their experiences. - Honesty. With each other and ourselves. - The fact that every action has consequences, and every word you say affects the people around you in ways that you will never know. That everyone has an untold story, untold experiences. And that if any teeny, tiny thing happened in a different way, everything could be different. This was really well done, a fantastic debut. Read it — and then let me know so we can talk through it.
MaryND More than 1 year ago
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.
sandrabrazier More than 1 year ago
Pak and Young Yoo are Korean immigrants. They run an experimental facility, a hyperbolic chamber that resembles a submarine, that they believe helps people with all sorts of medical problems, from infertility to multiple sclerosis even autism. One day, the unthinkable happens! Their hyperbolic chamber explodes, with patients inside! But who did it? Lies fill the air, surrounding them. It seems that everyone has something to hide! This is an interesting story, told from the different aspects of the different characters. As in real life, each character has his or her own agenda, his or her own truth. This is definitely a case for “the truth will set you free”. Our author, Angie Kim, writes very well in this, her first book, describing picturesque settings, realistic characters and strong emotions. I look forward to her next book.