In rural Virginia, Young and Pak Yoo run an experimental medical treatment device known as the Miracle Submarine – a pressurised oxygen chamber that patients enter for “dives”, used as an alternative therapy for conditions including autism and 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.
Angie Kim’s Miracle Creek is a thoroughly contemporary take on the courtroom drama, drawing on the author’s own life as a Korean immigrant, former trial lawyer, and mother of a real-life “submarine” patient. Both a compelling page-turner and an excavation of identity and the desire for connection, Miracle Creek is a brilliant, empathetic debut from an exciting new voice.
This is such a good book – one of those rare novels that you can become completely immersed in, that you look forward to getting back to, a novel you want to finish because you’re desperate to know the truth, but also one you don’t want to end because you’re enjoying it so much.
I do enjoy courtroom dramas, and while ‘Miracle Creek’ is technically part of this genre, there’s a whole other layer (and more) here. The difficulties, the joys, the guilt of parenthood, the complicated feelings around motherhood, fertility, making the right choices for your child, starting a new life in another country, prejudice and racism, all these issues and more are explored through the lives of several well-drawn, authentic and compelling characters.
The multiple viewpoints add to the confusion and mystery and I genuinely didn’t guess who was responsible for the fire until it was revealed.
A fabulous debut novel and an author I’ll definitely look out for in the future.