By: Angie Kim
Fiction, Mystery Thriller
Published: April 16, 2019
From the Cover:
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 powerful showdown unfolds as the story moves across characters who are all maybe keeping secrets, hiding betrayals. Chapter by chapter, we shift alliances and gather evidence: 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?
I had high hopes for this book, mostly due to the whispers I had been hearing in the book community. However, I felt it fell short from what I had expected. This book puts you straight into the courtroom and works backwards in time, revealing details about the crime and those implicated. I found this plot structure to be intriguing and unique, however it didn’t quite grab me like I expected it would. There were times when I wanted to put this book down and never finish it. However, I am glad I did finish it even if it wasn’t quite my favorite.
I appreciated how she put a spotlight on the Asian immigrant narrative, and the lengths family will go through to protect the ones they love. On a similar note, including the narrative about parents and the struggles they face taking care of special needs children felt both timely and important (especially in a time where some parents in the United States would rather leave their kids unvaccinated than them get autism). Together, these story lines illuminated the lengths parents will go to protect their children and attempt to give them the best life possible.
I enjoyed how she went back and forth between multiple points of view, giving readers an insight into the character’s unreliable minds and ulterior motives. As a graduate of Harvard Law School, Kim’s courtroom details were be incredible and I was impressed by her attention to detail. I think this aspect was where she shined the most. The back-and-forth discourse between the protection and defense attorneys was engaging and kept me hooked.
I found Kim’s ability to weave together so many themes impressive, however I felt the overall story might have been stronger if she didn’t attempt to achieve so much and was 100 pages shorter. Overall, this book was enjoyable, however it wasn’t the “gripping page-turner” I had heard it would be. If you are a fan of both Celeste Ng’s and Liane Moriarty’s writing, this may be the perfect book for you.