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

The Last Story of Mina Lee by Nancy Jooyoun Kim - Book Review Feature Image

You must be aware of mother-daughter relationship? It can’t be described in words! Right? So the Novel which I am going to review this time is different and has a twisted, tangled relationship between a Korean immigrant single mother and her American-born daughter. The name of the novel is The last story of Mina Lee by Nancy Jooyoun Kim.

The last story of Mina lee by Nancy Jooyoun Kim shows the traumatic truth of being an immigrant in America. The story begins with the 26 year old Margot visiting her childhood apartment in Koreatown and discovering that her mother, Mina Lee, has disdainfully died. There’s no explanation as to how her mother passed away. Both mothers and daughters have struggled all their lives to understand each other because of the immigration, sort of differences in language, and generation gap.

This book delves deeply into the mother-daughter relationship, which is complicated and full of tension. It also adds that relationships without fluency in language between two persons, especially in the close relationship of mother and daughter, can also exist. You will also read about the experience of immigrants and the experience of Los Angeles in the 80s versus Los Angeles in the current times.

You can feel while reading the immigrant experience of characters and their struggles they are going through, how they cope with it, and other stuff that comprises the mystery. Hence no spoilers ahead, but you will be eager to know more and more about the Novel.

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

The Last Story of Mina Lee by Nancy Jooyoun Kim book
Source: Where the reader grow

About the Author Nancy Jooyoun Kim 

Nancy Jooyoun Kim is a New York Times bestselling author of The last story of Mina lee. She was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, the US, and now lives in the San Francisco Bay area. Nancy is a graduate of UCLA from the University of Washington Seattle.

Nancy’s essays and short fiction have appeared in the Los Angeles review of books, Guernica, NPR/ PRI’s selected shorts, The rumpus, electric literature, Asian American writers workshops, The margins, the offings and elsewhere. The last story of Mina lee is her first novel. The book was published by park row in 2020.

The Last Story of Mina Lee by Nancy Jooyoun Kim | Review

The last story of Mina by Nancy Jooyoun Kim wove elements of mystery and thriller into a historical, contemporary fictional novel published on 1st September 2020. The novel is a different immigrant story in Los Angeles, Koreatown, about a complex mother-daughter relationship.

The story is told from two different perspectives, usually two different points of view in time. Through this dual narrative process, you will learn about Margot’s lee life and her mother’s Mina Lee’s life. The novel shows the characters’ point of view in the past and present and all kinds of conversations between those that could only exist within the book.

The Last Story of Mina Lee by Nancy Jooyoun Kim | Summary

The Last Story of Mina Lee by Nancy Jooyoun Kim quotes

The story follows Margot lee, Korean-American who is separated from her culture. She doesn’t like anything that ties her to where she comes from, while her mother, Mina lee, on the other hand, is Korean, in touch with her culture, and understands that she comes from Somewhere else.

Mina was separated from her parents during the age of four years old, and then later, she, as a young woman, finds herself in America. She makes a new life, for as a result of this, she gives birth to her daughter Margot. Mina finds little to live for in the capital of South Korea and hence left for America to start over. 27 years later, her grown daughter Margot finds Mina dead in the apartment of Koreatown.

Margot tries to figure out what happens to her mother. As her mother passed away, she started discovering a part of her mother that she never knew existed, her mother’s backstory, which led her to the United States, why she was living a particular kind of life. So in the journey of learning, she learns a lot about her culture and background against a deeper affection of who she is and where she comes from.

Then the story wove into the dramatic twists and real worries immigrants face in the US. As Mina lives in Koreatown, she only knows Korean but English. The language was a barrier between both of their relationships because Mena only speaks Korean while Margot primarily speaks English, mostly they both cannot explain their feelings to each other.

The story is told from the viewpoint of mother and daughter, who have struggled all their lives to understand each other. The novel explores identity, family, secrets, and what it truly means to belong.

What to Take Away from the Book?

So we will learn a lot about Margot and how she grew up, what she wants now and what she’s looking for as an adult. Also, learn about Mina’s past, except it was so different from the Margot experience. In this book, you will be exposed to the mystery that was happening in the story.

In the way it’s constructed, this story shows the hardships that Mina experiences while coming to America from Korea, migrating from one place to another, and adapting to the environment. You will also read that Margot doesn’t know much about her mother, yet it requires her mother’s death to finally realize that her mother is the only connection to family and feels kind of alone in the world.

My Thoughts on This Book 

The last story of Mina Lee looks at families in separation and a stunning mystery about a mother’s death and her daughter trying to wrap up herself to the loss. The writing is an amazing and fast read. The mystery will keep you turning the page.

The story tells you about the immigrant’s experience, providing a different expectation perspective. Allows you to understand where other people come from, where they live, how they view life. So if you are curious to know the whole story, then absolutely go and try once.

Rating for the Book The last story of Mina Lee 

“The Last Story of Mina Lee by Nancy Jooyoun Kim” deserves 4/5 stars.

Final Words

This book would be a good read for you as it shows a mystery about a person who discovers what happens to their loved one while dealing with the issue of living in different cultures.

I would highly recommend this book for those looking for general contemporary fiction. If this theme pulls you in and if it is something that you like to explore, then you must give it a try.

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