Monday, September 13, 2021

Angie Kim - Miracle Creek

How far will you go to protect your family? Will you keep their secrets? Ignore their lies? 
In a small town in Virginia, a group of people know each other because they’re part of a special treatment center, a hyperbaric chamber that may cure a range of conditions from infertility to autism. But then the chamber explodes, two people die, and it’s clear the explosion wasn’t an accident.
A showdown unfolds as the story moves across characters who are all maybe keeping secrets, hiding betrayals. Was it the careless mother of a patient? Was it the owners, hoping to cash in on a big insurance payment and send their daughter to college? Could it have been a protester, trying to prove the treatment isn’t safe?

Comment: It seems this book has been very well received and has been in many people's TBRs. Recently, I was able to purchase it and even though I hadn't read the blurb, I still took a chance on it. Thankfully, it ended up being an addictive read.

This is a fictional tale about a cast of characters united in the goal of seeing the experimental medical treatment HBOT succeed. The idea is that oxygen levels used in certain values can help several medical conditions, from infertility to autism. The owners of this equipment and treatment device are the Yoos, and Pak Yoo is a certified operator of the device. However, one day things go terribly wrong, there is a fire and two people die inside the equipment. An year later, the trial begins and the accusations are against Elizabeth Ward, the mother of one boy who died. Elizabeth isn't guilty of starting the fire but she feels she needs to be punished for what she has done, forcing treatments on her son for so long. However, what is the truth and what discovering it will signify to everyone involved?

This is a very complex story, with many layers and little things to process. The author's debut is a successful one for certain, in the sense she used a lot of detail, a lot of knowledge but everything seems to fit properly in all the slots she thought and the result is a story I felt like reading and while there was a lot to think about, only work stopped me from going full speed.

The book can be divided into two big issues: the character's lives and issues and how that affected and influenced their choices and the trial happening to judge whether Elizabeth Ward is guilty or not of having caused the fire that killed two patients. The author apparently has a background which allows her to speak about these subjects, namely the HBOT technique/device, which she has tried herself. I confess I had never heard of it and even after reading this I'm still unsure about some things but it is clear the author has scientific information to back up several situations described.

Of course this adds a certain sense of professional content one can trust but the best aspect of the book is, without a question, the fictional lives of the characters and how everything is mixed up and works smoothly. Each character has a voice, is someone we can follow and understand and the things we learn about them as the book develops, helps us to have an idea of what kind of person they are and if they - opposed to Elizabeth - could be the real culprits of the fire. I think the emotional and sociocultural details about each person easily allow us to have a deeper understanding of them and of the choices they make, from how immigrants from Asia are seen, how mothers who are eternal caretakers of their disabled children are seen, how everyone else judges what they don't have to face...

I think the complexity of this book is a wonderful gem to appreciate but another aspect is the trial scenes while prosecution and defense act on Elizabeth's case. I do like books and movies centered on courthouse scenes, especially when the lawyers go on one direction that seems to be unimportant and suddenly everything makes sense! There were one or two scenes like these here and it was so fun to build up anticipation and see it play out.

Everything was being well done and the end was coming closer...then something happens which although not shocking I feel would still be avoidable and then the final closure on the whole thing. I admit: I was a little disappointed because I expected some magnificent, something so out of the ordinary that who could think it but certainly the author would show case all her genius...when, in fact, the explanation for the whole thing, while making sense according to what happened and why, was so lukewarm when I imagined fireworks!

Still, that aside, this was a great study on human actions, human motivations, human thinking... we are the sum of all our thoughts and experiences and it can be difficult to isolate one decision or one choice on just one moment. The character development was really well done.
Grade: 8/10

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