Miracle Creek

Author: Angie Kim

Published: April 16, 2019

Publisher: Sarah Crichton Books

Where I picked up my book: Book of the Month choice!

Key Words: courtroom thriller, mystery thriller, diverse books, #ownvoices

My Rating: 4.5

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Synopsis (via Goodreads):

A literary courtroom drama about a Korean immigrant family and a young, single mother accused of murdering her eight-year-old autistic son

My husband asked me to lie. Not a big lie. He probably didn’t even consider it a lie, and neither did I, at first . . .

In the small town of Miracle Creek, Virginia, Young and Pak Yoo run an experimental medical treatment device known as the Miracle Submarine—a pressurized oxygen chamber that patients enter for therapeutic “dives” with the hopes of curing issues like autism or 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. An addictive debut novel for fans of Liane Moriarty and Celeste Ng, Miracle Creek is both a twisty page-turner and a deeply moving story about the way inconsequential lies and secrets can add up—with tragic consequences.

My Thoughts:

Miracle Creek was one of my Book of the Month picks for April, and I made a promise to myself that I would read my BOTM choice/s before the next book arrives (so as not to add to my ever growing TBR pile of books or feel like I was just spending money on a book subscription to spent money) and so far, so good 🙂 So I dug into this book once I finished Normal People (my other choice in April) and I really enjoyed it! My immediate thought when I cracked it open was…this is giving me To Kill a Mockingbird vibes, and I was totally IN for that ride! It didn’t disappoint and I was hooked from sentence one.

First, let’s talk about the fact that I had no idea that Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy was an actual thing. Well…I knew it was a way to treat decompression sickness in scuba divers, but I had no idea that it was also a method used to treat a variety of other medical conditions. Don’t ask me where I’ve been…but I went down a deep rabbit hole researching this alternative method as a ways to treat things such as infections, embolisms, infertility, Alzeimer’s Disease, Lyme Disease and autism, to name a few. It’s a pretty controversial method and isn’t necessarily regulated by the FDA for these various health conditions or diseases, but the statistics are surprising and I’m so glad that Kim found it interesting enough to write a book about!

Second, this book delves into immigration, what it means to move your family to a different country, what it means to fit in, and what it means to make choices for your family in search for a “better life.” I was so engrossed by this part of the book and any book with #ownvoices at the forefront. This is when the magic happens and I felt it while reading this book for sure!

Third, the whodoneit portion of this book had me on a wild goose chase and I LOVED every second of it. I was passing blame on everyone I could and as quickly as I could flip the page. Kim did a really amazing job laying just enough guilt and innocence on each character, reminding us as readers, that no one is perfect and most of us have some secrets and skeletons in our closets.

Fourth, this is exactly what a debut novel should be. Kim did an amazing job developing each character, taking bits of her life and merging them with a highly creative, engrossing and teaching story. These characters are bound to stay with me for a long time to come and I regularly wonder how they are doing. I would highly recommend reading this book and I’m excited to see what else Kim has to offer to us!

Also-this article by Angie Kim is EVERYTHING. I have not only so much more appreciation for her as an author, but as a mother as well. Please give it a read and as always, find me over on Instagram (@bookishfolk).

bookishfolk…read instead.

 

Lights All Night Long

Author: Lydia Fitzpatrick 

Published: April 2, 2019

Publisher: Penguin Random House

Where I picked up my book: Free from publisher for an honest review (THANK YOU!!)

Key Words: Coming of age, family dynamics (brothers), Russia

My Rating: 3.5

 

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Synopsis (via Goodreads):

Lights All Night Long is the stunning story of Ilya Alexandrovich Ekhlakov and his older brother, Vladimir. Two brothers who live in Berlozhniki, a refinery town on the edge of the arctic circle, where they spend their days watching bootleg American VHSs and their nights sleeping head-to-toe on the pull-out couch in their apartment. Ilya is a lingual prodigy; Vladimir the worst student at School #652 and an avid explorer of Berlozhniki’s seedier side. Still, the brothers are close, their love a careful balance of admiration and jealousy. When Ilya is tapped for an exchange program between Berlozhniki and an American refinery town, that balance is upset and Vladimir disappears into Berlozhniki’s underworld.

That winter, Ilya’s last in Russia, a new drug called krokodil surfaces in Berlozhniki and three women are murdered. Just as Ilya is about to depart for America, Vladimir is charged with the murders. Ilya arrives in Effie, Louisiana heartbroken, and in no mood to assimilate. But with the help of his host parents’ daughter – a local girl with secrets of her own – he embarks on a mission to prove Vladimir’s innocence. Lights All Night Long is a thrilling story of the fierce love between brothers, the sacrifices we make for family, and the power the past holds over the future.

My Thoughts:

There is not much that I love more than a fantastic, debut novel and I’m definitely here to say-this one checks that box! It is a well-written and intense read that will be sure to make you think about this family, and their story, long after you read the last sentence. Although it started a little slow for me, that didn’t take away from how much I enjoyed the book overall. Fitzpatrick has a way with her beautiful prose and character development that can’t help but hook you in as a reader and once that happened, I was in. The story is about brotherhood at the forefront, but it is intertwined with mystery, poverty, murder, a bit of religion, decisions, intentions, role models, drugs, friendship, family, loyalty and so much more. It’s a story full of wins, full of losses and ultimately, about what it’s like to love someone so much that fighting for them is your only option. It’s a story that will make your heart ache, make you think, make you laugh, make you understand humanity a bit better and is sure to bring you to tears a few times. I’m excited to see what else Fitzpatrick brings us. Happy Release Day Lights All Night Long! I think you will be impacting a few hearts with your words.

bookishfolk…read instead.

Severance

Author: Ling Ma

Published: August 14, 2018

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Where I picked up my book: Library

Key Words: Post Apocalyptic, Science Fiction, Dystopia

My Rating: 4.5 stars

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Synopsis (via Goodreads): 

An offbeat office novel turns apocalyptic satire as a young woman transforms from orphan to worker bee to survivor.

Candace Chen, a millennial drone self-sequestered in a Manhattan office tower, is devoted to routine. With the recent passing of her Chinese immigrant parents, she’s had her fill of uncertainty. She’s content just to carry on: She goes to work, troubleshoots the teen-targeted Gemstone Bible, watches movies in a Greenpoint basement with her boyfriend.

So Candace barely notices when a plague of biblical proportions sweeps New York. Then Shen Fever spreads. Families flee. Companies halt operations. The subways squeak to a halt. Her bosses enlist her as part of a dwindling skeleton crew with a big end-date payoff. Soon entirely alone, still unfevered, she photographs the eerie, abandoned city as the anonymous blogger NY Ghost.

Candace won’t be able to make it on her own forever, though. Enter a group of survivors, led by the power-hungry IT tech Bob. They’re traveling to a place called the Facility, where, Bob promises, they will have everything they need to start society anew. But Candace is carrying a secret she knows Bob will exploit. Should she escape from her rescuers?

A send-up and takedown of the rituals, routines, and missed opportunities of contemporary life, Ling Ma’s Severance is a moving family story, a quirky coming-of-adulthood tale, and a hilarious, deadpan satire. Most important, it’s a heartfelt tribute to the connections that drive us to do more than survive.

My Thoughts:

I LOVED this book! Well written, apocalyptic/post apocalyptic books are right up my alley and this one made the top of the list for me! The entire time I was reading Severance, I was in these characters shoes. Would I be one of the people to survive this fever and then what? (side note: I’d probably NOT be one of the ones to survive the fever in the first place, but I like to think about the scenario that way). As I devoured the book, I was mentally collecting supplies, thinking about what necessary items from my home I would grab and what friends would be of upmost importance to my survival. I was (mentally) wandering around my neighborhood thinking about where I would go and where I would go to get water and food. I was planning my route out of town to the nearest city where I might be able to find a thriving community.  I found myself getting excited to survive this apocalypse (wait, is ‘excited’ the right word? Probably not, but you get what I’m saying). I was completely enthralled with surviving this fevered world as I read through Ma’s book.

Let this fantastic plot suck you in, but also be on the look out for Ma’s exploration of  immigration and the immigration system in America, human behavior, the millennial way of living life, capitalism, religion, corporate life, the exploitation of foreign labor and assimilation because those topics are here, loud and definitely worth exploring through this great piece of fiction.

I hope you pick up Severance and enjoy it as much as I did! Let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment here or over on Instagram (@bookishfolk).

bookishfolk…read instead.