All over #bookstagram and a BOTM choice for May, Miracle Creek was a highly anticipated read from debut author Angie Kim. I saw a book description calling the novel a cross between Big Little Lies (which I loved) and Little Fires Everywhere (which I haven’t read but have heard stellar reviews about), so I was interested to see what it was all about. When it became Not Your Mama’s Book Club’s choice novel for May 2019, I hopped on the 8 week long wait-list for the audiobook.
After about 6 weeks, my turn came up (bless all those who return their audios the minute they finish listening!) and I was promptly thrust into a courtroom scene, where a woman named Elizabeth is being accused of killing her son, Henry. Then, among a slew of additional characters who are all called as witnesses or victims of the crime, we are introduced to the Yoo family; Young, a mother with high aspirations for her daughter’s future and their family business; Pak, a whip-smart father whose experimental hyperbaric chamber “submarine” known as HBOT (hyperbaric oxygen therapy) has been claiming to help those with autism and infertility; and Mary, their teenage daughter who is embarrassed by her Korean roots and immigrant parents.
Then, the stories and accounts of the event unfold, piece by piece- some truth, some farce- and it’s for the jury to decide who did it. But what if they all have something to hide? Here, the drama begins.
With Miracle Creek, Kim goes for the modern twist on the “whodunnit” suspense courtroom drama, introducing some interesting medical concepts, Korean culture, and delving into the dark side of parenting struggles. Kim emotes the clipped, concise, and often heated discussion in the courtroom, giving the reader the tense sensation of being a part of the audience. She also gives the readers an intimate glimpse at whispered conversations between different types of relationships- husband and wife, lover to lover, mother to mother…. each confessing secrets they’d never want others to find out. Her writing style keeps readers turning the page to find out who exactly is to blame for the horrible explosive incident.
While I admire Kim’s bravery in “going there” with the discussion of what it’s like to be a parent of a special needs child, and could empathize with their struggle, I felt that it was very hard to connect with the other characters on an emotional level. I’m pretty sure it was on purpose, as there has to be some distance and conflict between the reader and the potential culprits, but I struggle to enjoy a book when the main characters aren’t very likable. I also thought that though there were some plot twists, they were a little predictable, and that the suspense built around the plot was a little forced. There were times I thought “yeah yeah, we get it” and I’m sure that was not intended by the author!
Overall, I think it was a good read, but it didn’t overly impress me to give it all the stars. I’ll be in the minority on this one, I’m sure, because there are so many great reviews on this novel already, but I have to be honest that it just wasn’t my kind of novel. I did want to note though that I love what this debut author is doing on her book’s website, and encourage you to check it out! She has a fantastic reading guide, which I thought would be great for book clubs (like the one that chose this book for their club read) and great additional material, as well as an offer to virtually join your book club discussion.