Angie Kim’s Miracle Creek was one of my favorites reads a few years ago. I loved the courtroom drama mixed with the family’s narratives. I also really enjoyed as ‘educational’ it was as Kim is great for writing about disability stigmas, treatments, and societies expectations. I know she writes from some of her own personal experiences, and you can tell that she’s educated herself in that arena.
Happiness Falls, while similar in that it explores disabilities and specifically non-verbal disabilities, is quite different from Miracle Creek. I would label it more a family drama or a contemporary fiction and think labeling it a mystery/thriller does it a disservice. Just because a storyline has a mystery in it, doesn’t make it a thriller, and that is one of my biggest book pet peeves. I digress.
Happiness Falls is told exclusively through Mia’s POV and flows more like a stream of consciousness. It’s an interesting choice for a mystery with a missing person, but I think it really added and depicted the struggles families face with a disabled family member. Her perspective was honest, conflicted, selfish (not in a deliberate way), and realistic. It felt real, raw, and I would guess echos the thoughts of those with disabled siblings fairly well.
While I enjoyed it, we are subjected to quite a few tangents on a variety of things and past events. I didn’t dislike the tangents, but I found, especially towards the end of the story, that they became too much and took away from the story. Though I did learn quite a bit about Angelman Syndrome, which is a genetic disorder that affects the nervous system, there were times when these tangents became over analytical and philosophical. I did like that Kim added in the optional footnotes and I did read them all, but the details were also sometimes unnecessary. Between the footnotes and Mia’s tangents, the book felt long.
Angie Kim is honestly a fantastic writer. I love the way she’s able to capture a topic so thoroughly while entertaining and educating. She pulls directly from her own experiences, and you can tell that everything has been researched. I think cutting back on a few of the tangents would have made this book stellar, but with them in it turned this mystery into a slow burn which is why I took a star away. Still a great read, but don’t do this book a disservice thinking you’re getting a page turning thriller.
Happiness Falls comes out August 29, 2023. Huge thank you to Random House for my advanced copy in exchange for my honest opinion. If you liked this review please let me know either by commenting below or by visiting my instagram @speakingof.books.