The Last Story of Mina Lee

“Sometimes there was not one more hour, one more day, one more week in this life. Sometimes, all you had left was right now – the seconds ticking away.”

Thank you Park Row Books for gifting me a copy of THE LAST STORY OF MINA LEE to read and review.

“Margot Lee’s mother, Mina, isn’t returning her calls. It’s a mystery to twenty-six-year-old Margot, until she visits her childhood apartment in Koreatown, LA, and finds that her mother has suspiciously died. The discovery sends Margot digging 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.

Interwoven with Margot’s present-day search is 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.”

I was torn between loving this book and feeling complete sadness for the characters. I loved the alternating perspectives of Mina and Margot and the way that the timelines of the two women matched up as the reader learned more about Mina’s past and Margot’s discovery of a life she didn’t know anything about.

The chapters focusing on Mina were my favorite as I could feel such a deep connection to her as she struggled to navigate coming to America and adjusting to a world that didn’t seem as welcoming as she once had hoped. Nancy Jooyoun Kim painted a heartbreaking portrait of what life for an immigrant is like.

“People had left their homelands to be here, to build and grow what they loved – family, friendship, community, a sense of belonging. That was their version of the dream.”

This book made me take a hard look at the sacrifices that our parents made for their children and as we so often take for granted that our parents had lives before us. They experienced grief, love, and sought adventure.

I know that there was an underlying mystery presented in this story, and as much as I wanted to know what happened to Mina Lee, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about her history and getting to know her as a person.

THE LAST STORY OF MINA LEE will be published on September 1, 2020, and is available to pre-order now.

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