Miracle Creek by Angie Kim
In rural Virginia, Young and Pak Yoo run an experimental medical treatment device known as the Miracle Submarine: a pressurized oxygen chamber that patients enter for “dives”, used as an alternative therapy for conditions including 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? Was it the mother of one of the patients, who claimed to be sick that day but was smoking down by the creek? Or was it Young and Pak themselves, hoping to cash in on a big insurance payment and send their daughter to college? 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 driven to extraordinary degrees of desperation and sacrifice.
Book Review by Tanya Kannta for Love Books Group
If you’re looking for a who-done-it story that incorporates some controversial themes, wait no further and pick up a copy of Miracle Creek. For me, it was a page turner. One in which I really didn’t enjoy a lot of the characters yet could sympathize with their actions and rationales driving their decisions. While Miracle Creek is not a literary tour de force, it is well written and fast paced.
In a nutshell we have the Pak family, immigrants from South Korea, running a hyperbaric chamber espoused to help with ailments ranging from infertility to autism. Unfortunately, as we quickly learn from the beginning of the story, this chamber explodes, killing two and injuring the remainder of patients. At the start of the trial, we are led to believe one woman is to blame for the accident. The mom of one of the autistic children. A mom whom the prosecution decries, among other things, that she wished her child dead. She welcomed his death as relief from the never-ending emotional and physical toil of raising an autistic child.
But things are not always as they seem, especially in mystery crime novels such as these. Not everyone tells the truth, and the truth can be found hidden among the multitude of stories provided by all the surviving characters. As the trial unfolds, Ms. Kim touches on issues ranging from healthcare, race relations, immigration, infidelity, integrity, loyalty, emotional fatigue caring for folks with chronic illness, and even the debate on vaccines and autism. Whether you support the arguments or not, whether you have experienced the fallout from infidelity, death of a loved one, chronic illness, or racism, and so on, this story paints a picture of possible lived experiences in the United States. And while these experiences are not the epitome of all experiences, they do represent possibilities.
That’s what I love about this book. The possibilities are limitless, and this story presents one of the near infinite options. I don’t always agree with what happens, with how the characters wrestle or don’t wrestle with their demons, how some people allude responsibility while others take on more than their fair share. But I do love how the author presents so many topics that are excellent gems for discussion. Overall, I definitely recommend this book. Just be prepared for pieces that may frustrate or anger you. And if it does, then I see that as a sign of a good storyteller. One who can get under our skin and force us to think about things we may not want to contemplate. Or hear another side of a story that makes us uncomfortable, regardless if we support or oppose the position.
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