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  • Writer's pictureJessica

Book Review: The Last Story of Mina Lee by Nancy Jooyoun Kim

I finished The Last Story of Mina Lee over the weekend, squeezing in one final read for the month! Thank you to Harlequin/Park Row Books for providing a free ebook copy.

the last story of mina lee book cover

Synopsis from the publisher

A profoundly moving and unconventional mother-daughter saga, The Last Story of Mina Lee illustrates the devastating realities of being an immigrant in America.

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.

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.

My thoughts on The Last Story of Mina Lee

What you can expect:

  • alternating character POVs (Mina's in the past and Margot's in the present)

  • an exploration of the immigrant experience in America

  • mother-daughter relationships

  • murder mystery goodness

  • immersive Korean culture (and yummy food descriptions)

I really enjoyed the plot, the themes Kim explores, and Mina's chapters in particular. The book started to lose steam for me around the halfway point, and I found myself paying less attention to Margot's chapters in the present.

Overall, I think it's a good debut novel that many readers will enjoy, especially if they can relate to Korean culture, mother-daughter stories, and immigration.

Read an excerpt of The Last Story of Mina Lee here. Thanks again to Harlequin/Park Row Books for providing the excerpt and a free ebook copy of this book.

The Last Story of Mina Lee by Nancy Jooyoun Kim releases on September 1, 2020!

Grab a copy from one of these links:


Barnes & Noble




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