Parenting is hard work and every parent knows that. It’s a time of fun, frustration, happiness, anger, love and even twinges of hate. However, as hard as this job is being a parent to a normal child, it is incredibly more difficult, more trying, and more heart breaking being the parent of a handicapped child. In the book, Miracle Creek, Angie Kim tries to point out how very difficult that job is.
I loved this book! This is a fascinating murder mystery/courtroom drama/immigrant story that is unlike any other I have read. Along with being a riveting page-turner the author explores tough questions that have no easy answers.
The book opens with an explosion in a hyperbaric chamber, the so-called “Miracle Submarine”, a medical treatment used in the hope of a cure for conditions ranging from autism to infertility. The resulting fire took the life of two people: an 8-year-old boy with autism, and the young mother of one of the patients. Several others were left with devastating injuries.
Elizabeth, the mother of the young boy who died, is charged with wanting her son dead and orchestrating his murder. Is Elizabeth guilty, or, as the defense suggests, is someone else the guilty party? Told from alternating perspectives, there are little lies, big lies, and lies of omission. Everybody is hiding something and everyone has a possible motive for the crime.
The courtroom drama was riveting. Depending on which piece of evidence is explored, the suspicion leans strongly toward one person or another. No one has the full picture but each reveal draws us closer to the truth and keeps the reader guessing.
I think one of the strengths of this book is allowing the reader a peek into the minds and hearts of parents of disabled children. Parenting is a tough job, even more so when faced with the overwhelming exhaustion, grief, and fear of parenting a child with special needs, and the worry of what will happen to your child when they outlive you. The dynamics of the group of mothers who have children with varying degrees of autism was especially interesting.
Despite a great love for your child, shameful, but all-too-human, thoughts can creep in. Thoughts that could never be voiced out loud to anyone. I hope this book gives parents in similar circumstances reassurance and validation that they aren’t awful people, just flawed humans. Like all of us.
The immigrant experience is also explored, specifically the clashes between the old ways and the new, and the sacrifices immigrant parents make for their children, which don’t always lead to the expected outcome.
The author is Korean-American, a trial lawyer, and has a child who received hyperbaric treatments for a health condition. She writes with authenticity based on personal experience. This is an amazing debut and I can’t wait to see what she writes next!
Highly recommended for fans of thoughtful character-driven mystery/courtroom dramas.
I read this with Marialyce and we had a great discussion. For those in a book club this would be an excellent pick.
**I received a free copy of the book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
As a parent, you would do anything to make life and its many pitfalls easier for your child. You would go to any lengths to guarantee their safety, happiness, and always be there to provide a cushion to the ills of the world your child is traveling through. However for a parent of a handicapped child, this road they must travel is so often fraught with frustration, pain, and the incredible loss of concern for self. It’s a time of never resting, never sleeping well, always on guard for the next disaster, the next time of unhappiness, the next case of looking for cures that can allay the situation and offer the hope of making your child normal.
So it is not that surprising that the parents of severely handicapped children have come to the facility run by Young and Pak Yoo. This miracle submarine as they call ii, is a hyperbolic chamber that offers remedies for autism, infertility and other maladies. It seems to be somewhat successful but tragedy is on approach and as the submarine once known as a miracle becomes a nightmare, killing two people. The Yoo’s life is thrown into turmoil and the lives of the parents who are left behind becomes one of recriminations and guilt. A trial ensues in which one parent, Elizabeth, is accused of setting this disaster in motion and being the cause of the explosion that killed two people, one of whom was her son.
The strength of this book comes from the true picture that is painted of parents who struggle with their children who are disabled. It so well portrays the road that these people travel, one often filled with frustration, anger, and of course hope. It allowed for feelings of hate, hate for the cards dealt to them and the children who made their lives ever so difficult. It showed true human emotion, not always kind or loving, but exhausted, sleepless, and embarrassed.
Everyone in this story is lying, lying to protect their assets, lying to protect their marriage, lying to deny their part in a scenario that was both tragic and fated. It is a story of deceit, a story of tragedy, a story of how far a parent will go to make their child normal.
Jan and I read this book together and came away with a keen understanding of the pitfalls one often falls into in their zeal to make their offspring perfect, to fit a norm, to be normal.
Thank you to Angie Kim, Farrar Straus and Giroux for a copy of this story.
and here’s the author
Angie Kim moved as a preteen from Seoul, South Korea, to the suburbs of Baltimore. She attended Stanford University and Harvard Law School, where she was an editor of the Harvard Law Review, then practiced as a trial lawyer at Williams & Connolly. Her stories have won the Glamour Essay Contest and the Wabash Prize in Fiction, and appeared in numerous publications including Vogue, The New York Times, Salon, Slate, The Southern Review, Sycamore Review, The Asian American Literary Review, and PANK. She lives in northern Virginia with her husband and three sons. MIRACLE CREEK is her first novel.