The Last Story of Mina Kim by Nancy Jooyoun Kim

Fri, 09/25/2020 - 10:49am -- SEgan

Told from alternating perspectives across time, The Last Story of Mina Lee is a profoundly moving and unconventional mother-daughter saga that illustrates the devastating realities of being an immigrant in America. 

For as long as she can remember, twenty-six-year-old Margot Lee has been embarrassed of her mother, Mina. From Mina’s inability to learn English, the way she yells to her customers to buy something, and her strange need to hold on to useless trinkets and broken objects in her rundown Koreatown apartment in Los Angeles, Margot feels she has nothing in common with her Korean mother. But when her mother suspiciously dies in her apartment, Margot is sent on a spiralling journey through the past unraveling the tenuous invisible strings that held together her single mother's life as a Korean War orphan and an undocumented immigrant, only to realize how little she truly knew about her mother.

Margot’s present-day search for the truth and uncovering of her mother’s final months is interwoven with Mina’s story of her first year in Los Angeles as she navigates the promises and perils of the American myth of reinvention. While she's barely earning a living by stocking shelves at a Korean grocery store, the last thing Mina ever expects is to fall in love. But that love story sets in motion a series of events that have consequences for years to come, leading up to the truth of what happened the night of her death.

Told through the intimate lens of a mother and daughter who have struggled all their lives to understand each other, The Last Story of Mina Lee is a powerful and exquisitely woven debut novel that explores identity, family, secrets, and what it truly means to belong.

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