I loved Miracle Creek!

*B O O K   R E V I E W*

“That was the thing about lies: they demanded commitment. Once you lied, you had to stick to your story.”

Miracle Creek, is the debut book of Angie Kim, an up and coming author who is also an attorney. Most of the book, consists of a four day murder trial; however, the book spans the course of a year, from when a deadly incident occurs in 2008 until the end of the trial in 2009.  Someone is charged with starting the fire that caused an oxygen therapy chamber (HBOT) to explode, causing two people to die in a horrifying way. 

Thanks to my husband for helping me not burn the book!

The chamber, called the “Miracle Submarine”, was built for the purpose of healing a variety of disorders and conditions. It was the dream of Pak Yoo, a Korean immigrant who had experience with this type of therapy while in Korea. His wife Young, and their daughter, Mary, help him run his operation. 

Contained in the chamber at the time of the explosion were Henry, a child diagnosed with autism; Matt, a doctor experiencing infertility; Kitt and TJ, a mother and her autistic son; and Teresa and Rosa, a mother and her daughter who’s suffering with cerebral palsy. Henry’s mother wasn’t in the chamber that day. Others who weren’t in the chamber included the Yoo family and the protestors from a support group for moms of autistic children. 

Miracle Creek moves fast. Each day of the trial is a section of the book. Within each section are chapters telling what that day was like for each person and the people they were in contact with. Kim’s writing made me feel like I was in the courtroom each day. I didn’t want to put it down; I wanted to read through to discover who committed the crime! 

There were aspects of the book that were difficult for me. It’s hard to read about death, especially death where a child is concerned. It was also difficult to read how the mothers of the three children in the story experienced stress and exhaustion while caring for their children and never seeing the end in sight. They felt trapped.

This book provides a variety of issues that provide great topics for discussion, topics such as autism, infertility, immigration, mothers of special needs children, lies and secrets. It seems that every character, except the children lied about something. They kept secrets from their families. They kept secrets with each other. One lie led to another in order to continue covering up their secrets.

Angie Kim tells a story that only she could. She moved from Seoul, South Korea as a preteen. She’s practiced law as a trial lawyer after receiving her education at Stanford and Harvard Universities. She’s also the mother of a child who’s been treated with hyperbaric oxygenation. 

Side note: I had never heard of hyperbaric oxygenation therapy until reading this book. When our IRL bookclub decided to read this, one of our members explained how she had been treated in a chamber after a face lift that caused one side of her face to be paralyzed. She said the HBOT corrected the problem. Since then, I’ve heard many more cases. 

http://hbot.com
https://angiekimbooks.com

HOW CAN I LIVE MORE PURPOSELY AFTER READING THIS?

I found myself wanting to judge the mothers in this story, but I have to ask…are they really at fault? I hope that I would have behaved differently than they did given their situations.I’ll strive to always tell the truth to myself and those around me. 

Set in the 40’s but relevant for today’s women…

“When women are gathered together with no men around, they don’t have to be anything in particular; they can just be.” 

Feminism? Consensual, safe sex? Racial acceptance? All in the 1940’s? It doesn’t seem possible, but you’ll find these issues in Elizabeth Gilbert’s latest book, City of Girls. The entire story is Vivian Morris reflecting upon her life. She explains some of the choices she made as a young woman through a ninety something year old who has gained immeasurable wisdom from which we could all benefit.  

The story is mostly set in New York City during World War II in Vivian’s Aunt Peg’s theater. Viv’s job is sewing costumes for the show girls, and not just any costumes, exquisite ones! She has a gift for taking old clothes, fabric, trims and creating gorgeous clothes. The girls/women we meet are Aunt Peg, Olive, Celia, Edna Parker Watson (the star of “City of Girls”), Marjorie, and Angela. The language Gilbert uses to describe the meaningful friendships between the girls and Vivian is exquisite. So much so, I felt like I knew them as friends too. Men are around, but only in the background. 

This is a story about the past, but the message is a vital one for women today. When will we quit degrading ourselves? When will we accept who we are without the need for apologizing to anyone? When will we be kind to ourselves? When will we throw down our shame? When will we truly be free?

I listened to the audiobook narrated by Blaire Brown. She deserves high praise for her performance! Elizabeth Gilbert has proven once again what a badass author she is! Hands down, this was a five star book for me! 

A side note: Vivian’s talent for sewing reminded me of my dear grandmother, who was also a gifted seamstress of women’s clothes. Throughout the story I could picture Grandma, who was also an independent woman, sitting at her sewing machine. This made the book even more enjoyable for me. 

HOW CAN I LIVE MORE INTENSELY AFTER READING CITYOF GIRLS?

I’ll accept myself, the women I know, and the women I’ve yet to meet. I’ll not be judgmental, and I’ll frequently remind myself, we’re all doing the best we can. 

Above is my seamstress grandmother I referenced in this review.

After posting my review on Instagram, I received this message from my 87 year old mother: “I love the reference to Grandma in your review. You know that I was born after their divorce, and Mother was in demand to take apart the clothes of politicians’ wives and remake them into new ones. That is how she supported the two of us. Depression stories.”

Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Saturday self-care….

Wow! I picked up The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid on Saturday morning, and didn’t climb out of my hole until Sunday night near midnight! Ahhh… that’s a slight exaggeration, I did a few other things like bathe, fix food, talk to my hubby, go to the theatre… but, omg, I was hooked!

Monique Grant is a thirty something aspiring writer who wonders why Evelyn Hugo has requested her, and only her, to write her biography. It’s a story of how at the age of 15 she married her first husband in order to runaway from her disappointing childhood. I realized pretty quickly that Evelyn used her ensuing marriages to not only gain acclaim and stardom, but also to protect a secret love that was seen as dark and dirty during the 50’s-80’s era.  

Evelyn Hugo is a strong female, who will not be controlled by men or let anyone stand in her path to fame. I’m surprised I fell in love with her character since I was judgmental of her at the beginning. In fact, this book has several strong women in it who deal with messy issues in their lives and come out even more badass. Ultimately, Evelyn leads Monique to understand how strong she can be in her writing and career. 

Taylor Jenkins Reid’s structuring of the story is brilliant. She alternates between the past, with Evelyn’s relationships and rise to stardo, and present, with an 80 something Evelyn telling her story to Monique. In between we see snippets of magazine tabloids about Evelyn. It’s addictive, and will keep you turning pages. 

I’d like to tell you more about the aspects of this story that really caused reflection for me, but I would be forced to reveal part of her secret, and you need to discover that on your own. 

TJR love…

Taylor Jenkins Reid is one of my new favorite authors. After reading her latest book, Daisy Jones and the Six, I knew I needed more of Reid in my life. The Seven Marriages of Evelyn Hugo did not disappoint, and I’ve now added the rest of her work to my ever-growing TBR list. 

An American Marriage / Tayari Jones

A husband is wrongfully accused of rape and convicted to twelve years in prison. A wife tries to remain strong while he’s gone. Their back and forth letters are touching. It was like I was able to peer into their personal lives and feel some of what they felt. As a woman, some of the letters Roy wrote to Celestial made be angry, and yet here he is, a black man tried and treated unfairly. A man whose home is a prison full of many hopeless men.

As I read more, I became intrigued with the characters. Sometimes I wanted to tell them to wake up…a sign of a good book. Near the end I realized that my not being black made the story hard for me to read in places. I don’t understand what it means to be a black young person, especially a man, in this day. I can’t relate because of the privileges I’ve had being born white and being married to a white man. Oh my…I need to understand, want to understand.  I’ll quote Celestial, “Accident of birth is the number one predictor of happiness.” Recently my husband was pulled over by a white deputy for a traffic violation while I was with him. My husband, even though he felt like the officer had been unnecessarily rough with him, was given a mere warning. Would it have concluded differently if he’d been black? We both had the feeling it would have. An American Marriage brings all these points home in a timely fashion without being preachy or even political. 

I was happy with the ending even though it wasn’t what I expected. This book unquestionably made me think. I hope I’ve tried to summarize the book in a relatable way. This was a 5 star book for me. 

Oh, by the way, http://www.tayarijones.com/did a book talk near us, and we were able to go! What a delight, to hear her speak AND meet her afterwards! I’m looking forward to reading her other books!

careyloves meeting Tayari! Look at her typewriter purse! Soooo cool!