The Last Story of Mina Lee Review

Review by Laura

Mother-daughter relationships are often complicated.  Margot and Mina are no different. Margot is the American born daughter of Mina, Korean war orphan and undocumented immigrant.  In alternating chapters we learn about Mina’s struggles in Korea and as an immigrant in Los Angeles, and Margot, born in America, who has turned her back on everything Korean. Margo has never had an appreciation for anything Korean, she has never understood why her mother refused to learn English and try to fit in in her new country.  She resented the small apartment in Koreatown where she grew up.  She resented the poor ways of her mother.  She resented her mother never telling her who her father was.  She resented everything about her mother.  But when she arrives in Koreatown for her one visit a year, she finds her mother dead.   In trying to uncover the circumstances of her mother’s death, Margot finds a deeply layered woman that she didn’t really know.  And deep down she finds a love of her Korean heritage.  This is a beautifully told story of the complexities of familial relationships.  The resentments, the love/hate emotions, the reality that children never really know their parents, the regret when they’re gone.  Beautiful first novel!

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