The Last Story of Mina Lee

The Last Story of Mina Lee

3.55 (32,570 ratings by Goodreads)
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"Suspenseful and deeply felt." --Chloe Benjamin, New York Times bestselling author of The Immortalists "Fans of Amy Tan and Kristin Hannah will love Kim's brilliant debut." --Booklist, starred review "Nancy Jooyoun Kim is a knockout." --Kristen Arnett, New York Times bestselling author of Mostly Dead Things A poignant mother-daughter story and surprising mystery, The Last Story of Mina Lee is an electrifying debut novel that 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 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 string 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 both a gripping page-turner and a profound family saga that explores identity, secrets and what it truly means to belong.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 384 pages
  • 150 x 229 x 25mm | 363g
  • English
  • Original ed.
  • 0778311171
  • 9780778311171
  • 55,106

Review quote

"Suspenseful and deeply felt, The Last Story of Mina Lee begins when Margot Lee discovers her mother's death before reeling back in time to explore the secrets that divided Mina and Margot--as well as those that bound them together. Nancy Jooyoun Kim's debut artfully explores a diverse range of immigrant experiences, the meaning of family and home, and the nature of language--how it can be an ocean that divides, or a bridge that connects. In the process, The Last Story of Mina Lee raises questions about the reality of the American dream and illuminates stories that often go untold, in life as well as fiction." --Chloe Benjamin, New York Times bestselling author of The Immortalists "Nancy Jooyoun Kim's debut carefully illuminates the two sides of the silence between a Korean immigrant mother and her Korean American daughter, a silence only too familiar to many of us--and emerges with a stunningly powerful and original novel about social class, immigration and family. Kim is a brilliant new voice in American fiction." --Alexander Chee, bestselling author of How to Write an Autobiographical Novel "Haunting and heartbreaking, troubled threads between a mother and daughter blend together in a delicate and rich weave... With both sadness and beauty, [Kim] describes grief, regret, loss, and the feeling of being left behind. Fans of Amy Tan and Kristin Hannah will love Kim's brilliant debut." --Booklist, STARRED review "The Last Story of Mina Lee is a fierce, gripping call to love and memory. Nancy Jooyoun Kim has written a beautiful debut novel that is unafraid to delve into the scary, deeply vulnerable places of our hearts. It's a riveting dance between mother and daughter, moving fluidly back and forth through time, documenting the quiet traumas that can divide generations. Tremendously readable, The Last Story of Mina Lee is a real page-turner and Nancy Jooyoun Kim is a knockout." --Kristen Arnett, New York Times bestselling author of Mostly Dead Things "Nancy Jooyoun Kim writes with brilliant exactitude about the anxious topographies of being a mother and a daughter, and the choices that lead to migration. The Last Story of Mina Lee is a confident and gripping account of where families bury secrets and what happens when you dig." --Ingrid Rojas Contreras, bestselling author of Fruit of the Drunken Tree "In her stunning debut, Nancy Jooyoun Kim weaves together two poignant story lines: Mina Lee, an immigrant flees tragedy in Korea for a new start in Southern California. When she mysteriously dies, her American-born daughter, Margot, seeks out the truth of what happened. Gripping and gritty, The Last Story of Mina Lee is a story of their yearning, their struggle, and the enduring mystery of family. Unforgettable." --Vanessa Hua, bestselling author of A River of Stars and Deceit and Other Possibilities "A suspenseful and unflinching novel, The Last Story of Mina Lee had me glued to the page until its surprising and poignant end." --Amy Meyerson, bestselling author of The Bookshop of Yesterdays and The Imperfects "Nancy Jooyoun Kim's The Last Story of Mina Lee reckons with the historical trauma of Korean women and the women of the Korean diaspora. Kim negotiates the boundaries of language, geography, and identity, creating a work that is dynamic and piercing. She uses the language inherited by a deep collective sorrow, or han, and makes possible an understanding between mothers and daughters that have crossed the transpacific divide, together and yet alone. Kim confronts the meaning of "one life in the wreckage" of Korean women's bodies. The Last Story of Mina Lee is a glimpse of the Korean American presence, from Seoul to Los Angeles, critical to American history and literature." --E. J. Koh, author of The Magical Language of Others and A Lesser Love
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Rating details

32,570 ratings
3.55 out of 5 stars
5 13% (4,327)
4 39% (12,631)
3 38% (12,483)
2 8% (2,740)
1 1% (389)
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