Book Reviews,  Reese's Book Club

The Last Story of Mina Lee Book Review

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I’m so proud of myself on making it this far with Reese’s Book Club! This reading challenge has definitely been one of the most positive highlights of 2020! Have you been reading along with Reese this year? Let me know in the comments which book has been your favorite so far! The Last Story of Mina Lee probably isn’t my favorite, but I’m so glad I read it. This story is incredibly powerful!

Title: The Last Story of Mina Lee

Author: Nancy Jooyoun Kim

My Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.
the last story of mina lee by nancy jooyoun kim

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 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 series 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 a powerful and exquisitely woven debut novel that explores identity, family, secrets, and what it truly means to belong.

Synopsis from Goodreads

My Review:

From pretty much the first chapter, I knew that this wasn’t going to be a “happy” book. Just from reading the synopsis, I had a feeling that this book would make me think, and bring on some conflicting emotions.

Mina and Margot’s characters could not have been more different, and it was so interesting to watch both of them develop throughout the book. While Margot was definitely a great character in this story, I was completely overtaken by Mina’s life. Her story didn’t really get that happy ending, but really, life isn’t full of “happy endings”, and I really appreciate Kim’s realism. For those of you thinking this might be a tragic, yet always works out in the end Hallmark story, then you’ll be in for a big disappointment.

I’ll be the first to admit that I am very uneducated about the Korean War and the culture and traditions of Korean Americans. This book gave so much insight into that time in history and the Korean culture. Also, Kim’s descriptions of the food were incredibly mouth-watering!

In conclusion, I think it’s so important to read a variety of books about different topics, cultures, and opinions, as well as mood. Reading light and fluffy chick-lit doesn’t make for a healthy view of life. It’s not always the most exciting reading experience, but choosing to read a book like The Last Story of Mina Lee will make you look outside of your little bubble. It wasn’t an exciting, fast-paced read, but I learned a lot from this book, and I think these somber, thought-provoking reads should be talked about more.


What were your thoughts on this Reese’s Book Club pick for September? Let’s discuss in the comments! For more book reviews, click here.

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