Author: Angie Kim Published: April 2019 Pages: 357 Rating: 5 stars
A literary courtroom drama about a Korean immigrant family and a young, single mother accused of murdering her eight-year-old autistic son.
There are some books which catch fire in the book community and, through no fault of their own, become over-hyped. With the amount of praise surrounding Miracle Creek, I was cautious not to set my expectations too high. However, there was no need – this book deserves every ounce of hype it receives and more.
Now, this isn’t an easy read. It’s disturbing at times yet at once, incredibly moving. Miracle Creek is a thrilling courtroom drama in which the author respectfully touches on a bounty of poignant topics.
The story begins on the night of the incident. A family have recently migrated from South Korea and started their own business providing HBOT treatment. This is a treatment in which patients breathe in 100% oxygen which supposedly improves a range of health problems, from infertility to autism. Then, a mysterious fire breaks out. Fast-forward one year and Elizabeth Ward is on trial for the murder of her eight-year-old autistic son and the death of another patient. The pressure of parenting her autistic child was driving Elizabeth to the edge. Did she commit arson and murder her son? Or, is there another explanation?
Being a courtroom drama, I don’t want to delve too deep into the plot as you’ll no doubt want to uncover all the scandalising details on your own. However, I will note that this book is an incredible exploration of grief, prejudice, love and pride. The trial and mystery make for the perfect backdrop for a powerful character study. Those involved in the tragic event are flawed, complex and the ripple effect of their rash impulsive decisions spiral out of control and change their lives forever.
Furthermore, through the multiple characters perspectives, Kim sheds light on motherhood and what it’s like to care for disabled children. She explores how far a parent will go to protect their family and proposes thought-provoking questions; what would we do in their shoes? In addition, she illustrates the prejudice surrounding immigrant communities as we learn more about the Yoo family and their daily struggles in society.
Watching the courtroom action unfold, it’s fascinating how easily our opinions and beliefs are skewed by the manipulation of words and individual interpretations of events. I didn’t know who to believe. While I read each of the characters’ points of view as they filled in the night in question, I felt hatred, anger but also sympathy for them all. As they share more about their lives prior to the event, their omissions are what effectively kept me guessing.
Ultimately, we always want the best for our family and, sometimes, telling lies and keeping secrets are deemed necessary. Miracle Creek, a deeply moving mystery, presents the tragic consequences that can follow. I took so much away from this book. Sign me up for all of Angie Kim’s future releases!
Thank you to NetGalley and Farrar, Straus and Giroux for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
You can find out more about the book here on Goodreads.
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Thanks for reading!