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“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.
“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
"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, author of The Fruit of the Drunken Tree