Book Reviews

The Last Story of Mina Lee by Nancy Jooyoun Kim

Margot Lee’s mother Mina stops answering her phone and isn’t returning calls. Worried, twenty-six year old Margot decides to pay a visit to her home in Koreatown, LA and unfortunately finds her mothers deceased body.

This sends Margot putting the pieces together in an effort to discover the truth behind her mothers death. Through this, she learns things about her mother she never knew. 

Alongside Margot’s uncovering, we hear Mina’s story from her first year in Los Angeles and she finds her place in this new home. Barely making a living stocking shelves at a grocery store, Mina falls in love with a coworker. But this love leads to several consequences and can uncover the truth of what happened to Mina.

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This book is a perfect mystery for someone who doesn’t love scary thrillers. It’s definitely a slower story but you can feel the suspense build through each chapter. Additionally, it is so beautifully written and captures the devastating reality of Koren Americans trying to make a home in an, often unwelcoming place. 

Between Mina and Margot there is a disconnectedness. Margot doesn’t speak Korean, and has drifted away from her mother. There is so much about Mina’s life that was never told to Margot. But through the uncovering of her death, Margot discovers so much of this life. As a reader, I found myself sad that there are things Margot will never know because no one is around to share these stories. 

Ultimately, I enjoyed the immigrant perspective, and Mina’s experience more than the mystery aspect. The reason for that being, it was just slow-paced. However, I recognized the importance of Margot uncovering these things to discover the truth of her mothers death. I think this book is absolutely worth reading! If anything, it’ll make you want to call your mom and tell her how much you appreciate her.

PUBLISHING DETAILS: Park Row Publishing; September 1st, 2020; 0778310175; Fiction/Mystery

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