The Last Story of Mina Lee
By: Nancy Jooyoun Kim
Mina Lee is a story about mothers/daughters, the immigrant experience, extreme grief, disconnection and regret.
So it is a bit of a bummer really.
Margot Kim hasn’t seen or spoken to her mother in a while when she drives a friend to LA and stops to visit her she finds out the very unfortunate reason why. She’s never really understood Mina and older single mother who immigrated from South Korea at 41. Mina never really learned English and Margot never bothered with Korean so at times and in some ways they literally couldn’t understand each other.
But that doesn’t stop Margot from desperately wanting to know about her mothers final days and in following that thread the truth about Mina’s life that she never knew.
Mina’s arrival in the states is the other POV and honestly I think it’s my favorite of the book despite the fact she comes with great grief from loss at home. I think there’s really nice moments of the immigrant experience here. Trying to live in a world with a language you don’t understand, to find a job, the cost of not having papers and being able to access help.
Margot’s POV was a lot harder to get into mainly because you like and feel for her mother so much the disconnection is a little harder to take. Although I admit I admire her tenacity in the investigation the ending was a bit… loose and lacked the emotional punch I expected. It also made me wonder if another character didn’t deserve a POV of their own.
I also wasn’t a big fan of the main romantic relationship in the book.
So while the Last Story of Mina Lee was a bit bumpy I did appreciate the look into the immigrant experience not just the trauma of moving to a new country to start over from scratch but the trauma that you bring with you anyway- and how it can potentially effect subsequent generations in families.
*** I received a copy of the book from the Publishers to participate in the blog tour. Thanks to them and Netgalley!
The Last Story of Mina Lee will be released on September 1!