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This novel is noted as a literary courtroom thriller – I never thought I would read this one and assumed it wouldn’t be my vibe just from the genre. It was picked by a fellow book club member as our read for March and I really enjoyed it! It kept me on my toes but also had the introspection that I love from literary fiction.
It covers so many topics – immigration, race, medical diagnoses, parenthood, ethics, morals, and justice. I enjoyed seeing the different parts of the story unveil and not knowing whose story to believe and who is telling the truth.
One of my favorite quotes from this novel relates to the general chaos of life: “But that was the way life worked. Every human being was the result of a million different factors mixing together - one million sperm arriving at the egg at exactly a certain time; even a millisecond off, and another entirely different person would result. Good things and bad - every friendship and romance formed, every accident, every illness - resulted from the conspiracy of hundreds of little things, in and of themselves inconsequential.”
Former trial lawyer Angie Kim's excellent debut novel is a mystery and a legal thriller. It's also a serious exploration of what makes life worth living, the immigrant experience, and the effect of lies on family, and the very transient nature of truth. Told from several viewpoints, the story is about a Korean immigrant, Pak Yoo, who runs a hyperbaric oxygenation facility, an "alt medicine" treatment for, among other things, autism. As the story opens, a fire at the facility kills a child, a parent, and causes terrible injuries to everyone, both physical and psychological. A mother who was "absent" that day is on trial for murder, but author Kim gives us several other viable alternatives for who started the deadly fire, including Pak, his wife Young and teenaged daughter Mary. Or is it the most vocal of a group of militants protesting the facility? Kim does not skimp on her characters, we get to know them as real people. Equal parts page-turner and serious exploration of the above themes, this one feels like a major advance in the legal thriller.
Story about a Korean immigrant's family that is fatally intertwined with several families with special needs children. The story is told through the perspectives of 5 characters, each having chapters to tell their side of the background to the courtroom drama. The author, a lawyer herself and a mother of a child with health issues, is well placed to write this story. The description of the mothers' lives with special needs kids is very well done to the point of being overdone for me, but the author certainly succeeds in showing the thoughts, the emotions, and the actions of these mothers to improve their childrens' lives. Words do not fail this author! From the standpoint of a lawyer, the author also is familiar with clients' white lies, their tailored replies to probing questions, withholding vital information, and different views of the facts. Her courtroom setting is not the boring Q&A session of a Perry Mason drama. The novel was an enjoyable read with many insights uncommon in a murder mystery book.
Loved the plot & most of the characters- and I did not see the ending coming. Though I enjoyed most of the book there was some graphic scenes that were not needed and I was very uncomfortable reading them.
A legal drama, which is rare for me! But this book made me want to get more into the genre, because it was very compelling. It had been on my list for awhile, but I bumped it up thanks to The Stacks podcast. If you read the book I highly recommend listening to the episode about it because I guarantee you’ll want to talk about it with someone and/or hear other people talk about it because there’s a lot to discuss. The story is centered around a trial set to prosecute a woman for the explosion of a unique medical center, an explosion that killed two (including her son) and injured several others. Kim explores race, disability, parenthood, and grief in very interesting ways and effectively keeps you guessing throughout. I did feel a little disappointed by the ending, but I appreciated the way she handled a large cast of characters, which is something that can easily annoy me if not done well. Also her imagery was really good!
An explosion at a facility for special needs kids turns out wasn’t an accident. Sounds interesting.
I don’t understand the criticisms of the plot being obvious or poor character development...I thought this was a brilliant book! A thriller but heart-rending at the same time, touching on topics you don’t usually have in courtroom dramas such as what immigrants experience and parents’ devotion to disabled children. An amazing read!
In this first novel, author Angie Kim takes a could-be-tired genre - the courtroom drama - and adds layers and goes in unexpected directions. There is a fire at an alternative healthcare facility catering to disabled children and a mother and a child are killed. Kim tells her story through alternating viewpoints and her ability to create and manage her large cast of characters is extraordinary. Her themes of family, immigration, disability/caregiving are seamlessly woven into an engrossing narrative. By the end, I was bruised by this heart-wrenching book.
This mystery/court room drama unwinds slowly but is really well structured. A unique look at how when everyone is telling little lies for their own selfish reasons, the truth gets incredibly muddled.
I waited a few days before commenting about this debut novel. For a first novel of courtoom murder intrigue, this one is very good. While I was a little disappointed in the ending, it was well worth the read. I find myself wondering if this author has another novel to write. The amalgamation of her real life as a lawyer and a Korean made this novel even better than the normal courtroom thriller or murder mystery. I hope that she has more in her because I did like this first novel.
It was a quick read - a good mystery/courtroom drama. A "whodunit" that keeps you guessing to the end. I enjoyed the added texture of Korean immigrants carving out a new life in America - a topic with which the author is obviously intimately familiar.
Recommended if you like court room drama or crime fiction. The author does a good job of creating a web of possibilities to keep you wondering how it will all turn out. Well crafted and a bit of a slow burn.
A terrific debut. A murder trial, a cast of compelling characters, and an uncertainty around the events. It reminded me of Jodi Picoult. I especially loved how the author told the story through different viewpoints. This novel would make a great book group selection.
Improbable plot that works itself out in a courtroom, ala Perry Mason. Maybe I read too many police procedurals, but I had a really hard time believing that all the lies and twists wouldn't have come out in an investigation. While there is some great writing, the plot's final solution is very contrived. The book also treads on a line of "able-ism" that's pretty subtle but overall sets up the idea that only normal kids are ever wanted.
Mediocre writing. Poor editing, Byzantine, implausible plot, Poor character development. Ambiguous narration perspective.
Conflicts involving immigration, family relationships, a murder trial, the treatment of children with disability and more are set off by fire in the first chapter.
Exceptional courtroom drama...
A terrible accident has occurred and two people are dead. Young Henry, and another woman were burned to death when an experimental medical device exploded. On trial for their deaths is none other than Henry’s mother Elizabeth. Is she guilty? Henry was autistic, but did Elizabeth really want to be free of her responsibilities this badly? Or did something else happen that night?
Pak and Young Yoo are first generation Americans who came from Korea in hopes of a better life for their daughter, Mary. HBOT, or the Miracle Submarine, was supposed to be their vehicle to success...and then the explosion happens and their hopes and dreams come crashing down around them. As details in the courtroom testimonies emerge, we learn more about each person who was there that day, and what part they played in the events that occurred. We quickly learn that everyone has secrets...but who is holding on to the biggest secret of them all?
PROS: Oh my, this is one amazing book...not just a courtroom drama, it explores the lives of many characters facing challenges - medical, cultural, societal...and it’s fair to say that Elizabeth completely broke my heart...
CONS: Miracle Creek is beautifully written and amazingly well organized, but it does take a bit more effort to read than most of the books I choose...if you stick with it, you’ll see that it was worth it!
YES or NO: Of course it’s an absolute YES - Miracle Creek serves as a reminder to slow down and take the time to appreciate those around you...because what is life without your loved ones? Unbearable...
I cannot wait for others to read this book. There is so much to discuss - living with a disability, parenting a child with a disability, immigration, consent, experimental therapy - but despite all the important issues in this story, the issues never take precedence over the characters. This is primarily a book about people and how they interact and relate - both to themselves and to others - and it's going to be an explosive title in April.