Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Last Story of Mina Lee” as Want to Read:
The Last Story of Mina Lee
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Last Story of Mina Lee

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  27,737 ratings  ·  2,840 reviews
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 invisible strings that held together her single mother's life as a Korean War orphan and an ...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published September 1st 2020 by Park Row
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.54  · 
Rating details
 ·  27,737 ratings  ·  2,840 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Last Story of Mina Lee
Angela M

3.5 stars

This novel offers a moving view of the immigrant experience and reflects on a mother-daughter relationship filled with secrets, regret, and love. There are two time lines . Margot in 2014 seeks to find answers about what happened to her mother, her mother’s past and in doing so she finds out about herself. Her mother, Mina is the focus of the second alternating narrative in 1987, and we discover her losses and the sad life before she arrived in the US from Seoul, after having fled Nort
Brenda ~Traveling Sister Book Reviews
3.5 stars

The Last Story of Mina Lee is a lighter read that explores the complicated relationship between a single immigrant mother, Mina and her American born daughter Margot. The story is told in present chapters from Margot who, after returning home, finds her mother dead. Margot starts to realize there is much she doesn't know about her mother, her past living in Korea, living in Los Angeles Koreatown and the secrets she kept from Margot. As she starts to uncovers past and present secrets she
Lindsay - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews
3 stars for this quiet and insightful story.

Margot’s mom, Mina, was a quiet single mother who worked hard to provide for her daughter. Margot doesn’t know much about her mother’s life before she immigrated from Korea before Margot was born. When Margot shows up at her mothers apartment unexpectedly, her mother doesn’t answer the door or the phone. From there, Margot begins on the journey to learn about her mothers past as a Korean War orphan, her undocumented immigration to Koreatown, LA and her
Mar 26, 2021 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to enjoy this book more than I did. 😬 Overall, I just didn’t get anything from it. It felt a bit flat, very slow and... I don’t know.... boring? 🙄 I listened to the audiobook and it kept putting me to sleep. 😴 it’s not the worst thing I’ve read- but I don’t know who I’d recommend it to. 🤷🏼‍♀️
Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest

DNF @ p. 282

I'm actually really upset about this book review because I was expecting to like it and spent all of what I read of it being totally unexcited. THE LAST STORY OF MINA LEE kind of does for the Korean-American population in Los Angeles what JOY LUCK CLUB did for the Chinese-American population in San Francisco, in that it explores shared cultural history through the vehicle of a child's disconnect with her mother and then "reco
09/01/2020: HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY TO THIS GEM! It's been a full month since I flipped the last page, and I'm still all up in my feels about this story.

She understood that both life and death could be random, unnecessary—but she needed more from her mother’s story. And now that her mother was dead, Margot was no longer afraid of any truth.

There’s a special kind of ache in my heart that's reserved for knowing how a story ends even as it's unfolding.

Like this: In 1987, we chart forty-one-ye
Aug 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This novel made me call my mom and give her a virtual hug. As a daughter of an immigrant, and someone who grew up in Koreatown, Los Angeles in the late ‘80’s, I resonated with this book - the urban location, the people, the food brought back all kinds of memories for me. The neighborhood is as good as stepping into Seoul for its sights, smell and sounds. Through the points of view by mother (Mina) and daughter (Margot), and two distinct timelines and juxtaposition, we discover what tore them apa ...more
Terrie Robinson
"The Last Story of Mina Lee" by Nancy Jooyoun Kim is the story about the complex relationship between a Korean immigrant single mother and her American-born daughter.

Margot Lee, 26 YO, living in Seattle, is worried about her mother, Mina, who's not answering or returning her phone calls. Margo drives to the L.A. Koreatown apartment, where she grew up and where her mother still lives and finds her mother dead.

Was it an accident or an intentional death? Mina needs to know what happened but reali
An authentic and raw look at the life of an immigrant. A compelling debut packed with culture and secrets. Margot is first generation Korean American, She grew up in LA’s Koreatown. Margot was always a little embarrassed of and never fully understood her mother, so she went to college in Seattle and never looked back. Now she is home, her mother is gone, and Margot is learning that there was much more to her mother than she ever realized. Told from the alternating perspectives of Margot and her ...more
“The Last Story of Mina Lee” is another daughter/mother immigrant story in which the daughter woefully misunderstood her mother. The story is character-driven with Margo, Mina’s daughter, and Mina tell their stories through their own chapters. Margo begins the story in real time. She makes an unexpected trip to visit her mother and finds Mina dead in her Koreatown apartment in Los Angeles. Mina’s chapters are the backstory of Mina and how she came to Koreatown, her life in Koreatown, and her lif ...more
Larry H
Aug 30, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: blog-tour, netgalley
3.5 stars.

"Sometimes, agreeing to the same lie is what makes a family family, Margot."

How well do we truly know those we love?

Margot has never quite “gotten” her mother, Mina. Growing up she was always a little embarrassed of how hard her mother had to work to keep them afloat, she was embarrassed by their rundown apartment, and the fact she never really made an effort to learn much English.

Still, when her mother doesn’t answer her home or work phones for several days, Margot worries, and when s
Ioanna ms✨
Sep 03, 2020 marked it as dnf
DNF 19%
I'm so annoyed that I didn't love this. I love Korean culture, I love mysteries and I love family dramas. But this progressively got more and more dull. The writing was full of clichés, the character of Margot was hollow, and though I did like Mina, it was not enough for me to continue. It's Damn it!
Jennifer Blankfein
Sep 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Taking place in Koreatown in LA and alternating between the 1980s and 2014, Margot, a Korean immigrant learns of her mother, Mina’s mysterious death. Searching for her own identity, Margot revisits their past on a road of self discovery and to find answers. She learns about her mother’s life as an orphan during the Korean War and her struggles as an undocumented immigrant. Their mother-daughter relationship was fractured, though not for lack of love and the desire to protect. Misunderstandings d ...more
Lisa (Remarkablylisa)
Sep 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is a gem. It takes you on an emotional journey between a mother and daughter that struggled with their relationship. They didn't understand each other. They were angry with each other. They were opposites all the time. But when her mother doesn't pick up any calls anymore, her daughter goes on a wild search to find her and piece together what could have happened. In her journey she realizes her mother had lived an entirely different life that she has never told anyone or hid from her b ...more
Second audiobook for the second leg of the drive.

I was hoping this would be so much better than it was. It started out strong- Dual timelines between present day Margot trying to figure out what happened to her mother, Mina. The second timeline is Mina's life going back to 1984 and making her way in the US as an immigrant from Korea. How she adapted, the jobs she had and the friends she made.

I really enjoyed seeing both timeframes and getting to know these characters-- then it just all got a li
Apr 18, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, fiction
Margot hasn't heard from her mother, Mina, in over two weeks, and she's worried. Since she's planned on helping her friend move from Portland to Los Angeles anyway, she decides to make a surprise visit to her mom while she's in town. But when she arrives at their old apartment, she's shocked to find her mother lying on the kitchen floor, dead, her body lifeless for at least a week or more. At first it seems like an open and shut case: her mother fell, hit her head, and died from the resulting he ...more
Elyse  Walters
Dec 01, 2021 rated it it was ok
Started out good- then dwindled to bland-land.
A little interesting ….
Readable - but almost invites skimming-
Nothing remarkable or deeply memorable.

2.5 rating — rating down because I wouldn’t go out of my way to recommend it.
NOT AWFUL ….but very average.
Chandra Claypool (WhereTheReaderGrows)
So many thoughts on this one. So many. I'll try not to ramble too much and keep this short and succinct. Mina (mother) and Margot (daughter) - two time lines, two different stories. Usually with two different storylines, I prefer one over the other. I think I was more interested in Mina's because of the hardships she endured, the sacrifices she made and the secrets that she kept. Margot did resonate for me though - being the daughter of an immigrant and trying to handle two different cultures.

Sep 28, 2020 rated it it was ok
This could have been so great. But it fell VERY short. Like many other people have said, it was more of the author telling than showing, of characters who had potential but fell flat, and it DRAGGED on. There were scenes that didn't need to exist that were painfully descriptive, and then scenes that needed to answer questions or show the story and were wrapped up in 2 sentences. And the ending....the ending was awful and weak and petty.
To be honest I was bored after the first 100
The Last Story of Mina Lee is a beautifully written story of a young Korean American woman learning about her traditional Korean mother after her death. The story is told from Margot's view point and alternates with Mina's viewpoint. I loved this book! ...more
Alyson Stone
Book: The Last Story of Mina Lee
Author: Nancy Jooyoun Kim
Rating: 2 Out of 5 Stars

I would like to thank the publisher, Park Row, for providing me with an ARC.

My whole issue with this book was the lack of development. This could have been a good book for me if it had been developed a little bit more. I was fully expecting to like it and was actually very interested in the Korean aspects of the book. However, the lack of character and plot development just didn’t do it for me. It felt like everythi
Iryna *Book and Sword*
3.75/5 stars

I don't remember ever being this much on a fence about a book. I loved so many things about it, but somehow it also fell just a tad short for me.

Let's start with the good things! I l LOVED her writing, lyrical, smart and nuanced, but still to the point. I absolutely adored all of her views on immigration and how it feels to be one, "American dream" and growing up having your world split in two. I related immensely, I am an immigrant myself - so I highlighted A LOT in this book. Str
Jerrie (redwritinghood)
This was just ok. Very slow in many places. I think this may be that the book tried to go in too many directions at once. It was a murder mystery, an immigration statement, a feminist statement, etc.
I have no idea what it is like to be an immigrant or an immigrant's child, but I really feel like that experience was brought to life for me in The Last Story of Mina Lee which is Nancy Jooyoun Kim's debut novel. And oh the FOOD! This book made a hungry girl even hungrier with all the descriptions of food the characters were eating, so maybe eat before reading this! I have a BOTM copy but decided to do the audio and this is one of the only times I will say I do NOT recommend that route. The narr ...more
Aug 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I'm fortunate to be part of The Last Story Of Mina Lee by Nancy Jooyoun Kim book tour courtesy of BookClubbish and Park Row. Thank you for a gifted copy! I voluntarily reviewed this book. All opinions expressed are my own.

REVIEW ☆☆☆☆☆

I am not Korean. I am not an immigrant. Did I, regardless of this, identify with The Last Story Of Mina Lee? Yes, I absolutely did! This story is so universally connected to everyone. On almost every page, I've written notes and underlined snippets and entire passa
Sometimes, agreeing to the same lie is what makes a family, family….

The Last Story of Mina Lee is told from the perspective of Margot and Mina. Margot lives in Seattle away from her mother Mina who lives in Koreatown, La. For the last two weeks Margot has been trying to get in touch with her mother via phone, but her calls return unanswered, a little worried, Margot decides to drive to her Mother’s house to check in on her. On arriving at her childhood home Margot finds her mother face-down
Sep 29, 2020 rated it did not like it
I thought about ditching this book early on. I should have. It did not improve.
The Amerie's Book Club May 2021 selection is THE LAST STORY OF MINA LEE by Nancy Jooyoun Kim!

At this heart-wrenching story’s core is a taut mother-daughter relationship that is further complicated by misunderstandings both generational and cultural. There is plenty of depth here, but by deftly layering family secrets, heartbreak, and the general fear of being unable to make a place for oneself in the world, Nancy Jooyoun Kim creates an unforgettable story.
#AmeriesBookClub #ReadwithAmerie #ABC #
I feel I can't give a fair review as I listened to the audiobook and found the reader's voice to be very flat gaving little life to the story, making it rather boring.
I did appreciate the struggles of Korean and other immigrants who came to this country with dreams of a better life only to face prejudice and other obstacles that made their life difficult with few opportunities.
Mina Lee's story of her past in Seoul to her journey to Korea Town in Los Angeles was heartbreaking, and life in Ameri
At the beginning of the book I thought that I had found a gem.
Just a simple gesture of kindness almost made me cry.
That’s how good it started. It created an immense expectation for me.
The first 65% really kept me engaged.
Not even the (plenty) repetition of conversations bothered me.
I did enjoy the writing and the structure.
I liked reading about the struggles of a woman who escaped North Korea and immigrated to America without speaking English.
I thought that the difficult relationship between a
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Holdout
  • Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? And other Questions about Dead Bodies
  • The Friend Zone (The Friend Zone, #1)
  • Sing, Unburied, Sing
  • A Long Petal of the Sea
  • 82년생 김지영
  • Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family
  • Redhead by the Side of the Road
  • The Other Mrs.
  • The Last Bathing Beauty
  • House on Fire (Nick Heller #4)
  • Perfect Little Children
  • The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires
  • Burn Our Bodies Down
  • Punching the Air
  • Cinderella Is Dead
  • Little Secrets
  • I Killed Zoe Spanos
See similar books…
See top shelves…

Articles featuring this book

This May, as we celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we wanted to take an opportunity to shine a light on some of the...
267 likes · 46 comments
“She wondered how many women had been trapped - in terrible marriages, terrible jobs, unbearable circumstances - simply because the world hadn't been designed to allow them to thrive on their own. Their decisions would always be scrutinized by the lives at which they were able to sacrifice themselves, their bodies, their pleasures and desires. A woman who imagined her own way out would always be ostracized for her own strength.” 5 likes
“Every meal, even a somber one like this, was a celebration of what we had left, what remained on this earth to taste and feel and see.” 3 likes
More quotes…