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The Last Story of Mina Lee de Nancy Jooyoun…
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The Last Story of Mina Lee (2020 original; edició 2020)

de Nancy Jooyoun Kim (Autor)

MembresRessenyesPopularitatValoració mitjanaMencions
3091669,444 (3.43)3
An electrifying debut novel for fans of Celeste Ng and Jean Kwok, The Last Story of Mina Lee is a poignant mother-daughter story and surprising mystery 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 and finds that her mother has died under suspicious circumstances. 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 years in Los Angeles as she navigates the promises and perils of the American myth of reinvention. 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.… (més)
Membre:bookjunkie15
Títol:The Last Story of Mina Lee
Autors:Nancy Jooyoun Kim (Autor)
Informació:Park Row (2020), Edition: Original, 384 pages
Col·leccions:La teva biblioteca
Valoració:
Etiquetes:Cap

Informació de l'obra

The Last Story of Mina Lee de Nancy Jooyoun Kim (2020)

  1. 00
    Pachinko de Min Jin Lee (MM_Jones)
    MM_Jones: Book two of Korean diaspora trilogy
  2. 00
    Free Food for Millionaires de Min Jin Lee (MM_Jones)
    MM_Jones: Korean diaspora trilogy
  3. 00
    Searching for Sylvie Lee de Jean Kwok (Micheller7)
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Es mostren 1-5 de 16 (següent | mostra-les totes)
this started out so promisingly, but pretty quickly became disappointing.

there's a (pretty nice, actually) metaphor in the book about the korean language slipping through holes in a fishing net such that margot can't catch all the words. it expands a bit to encompass all that's missing or that she can't quite grasp. unfortunately it's a good metaphor for this book as well. way too much slips through or isn't solid enough to land.

what seemed to be the initial idea - margot finding her dead mother and realizing that she really didn't know her well - could have been excellent. if it became about finding out about her mother, once she realized how little she knew her. if it had been about her backstory both in korea and as a new immigrant to the united states. if it made any sense at all that margot didn't know almost any korean when her mother didn't speak hardly a word of english, and she raised her as a single mother. if it was about identity and community and how the past shapes us. if it didn't turn into this nonsensical mystery - why did margot even think that her mom didn't die naturally? there's no reason to think that and this whole aspect of the book falls so flat, feels so secondary and false, and takes away from the much more interesting story that doesn't get adequately explored.

and when it is explored, it's not well done. we aren't made to feel anything or understand their feelings either. it's all told to us, so theoretically we know what they're feeling, but being just told isn't enough. i need more. or at least an explanation of things, like why people who are supposedly in love call each other "mrs lee" and "mr kim." is that a cultural thing? we don't learn anything about korean culture except the names of some foods that are repeated over and over, as if that is enough.

from just about every aspect of this book, i wanted more. except the "mystery." that could have disappeared entirely, and should have. this could have been a much better book. and from the quality of parts of her writing, it should have been better. she doesn't write badly (although most of the dialogue isn't very good) and there are places where she writes really well. so that made the rest of it all the more disappointing. this should have been better, should have been an exploration of mina's past and her relationship with margot, where margot gains an understanding of her mother, even if too late.

this exchange, from early on, made me laugh:

"'Sometimes agreeing to the same lie is what makes a family, family, Margot.'
'Ha. Then what do you call people who agree to the same truth?'
'Well, I don't know any of these people personally, but ... scientists?'" ( )
  overlycriticalelisa | May 14, 2021 |
Wow, I don't know if I could have read this a few months ago, but when daughter Margot Lee travels from Seattle home to LA with a friend and hopes to see her mother after not being able to reach her by phone. There, in their old apartment, she finds Mina Lee, alone and dead. The police don't think there is anything suspicious, but Margot, with her friend Miguel, want to find out more about MIna's life, Margot's unknown father and whether or not she died accidentally or on purpose. The story goes back and forth between Mina's new life in LA in the 80's, leaving Korea after much personal sadness. In the present, Margot struggles to find people who want to talk about her mom and hopefully lead her to more of the story about her life. It's heartbreaking in parts and a very emotional journey for Margot. ( )
  ethel55 | May 10, 2021 |
Amazingly written. The mystery of it all kept me turning the pages. ( )
  thursbest | May 3, 2021 |
Margot Lee is 26 and lives in Seattle. In late 2014, she is helping a friend move to Los Angeles, Margot's hometown, and when they stop by the apartment of Margot's mother, Mina Lee, a Korean immigrant, they find her dead. It's ruled an accident, but Margot is convinced someone murdered her mother. Margot's attempts to solve this mystery are the weakest part of the book. I also found it hard to believe that Margot never learned to speak much Korean.

Much better is Mina's immigrant story, told in flashbacks to 1987, when she first arrived in the United States as an undocumented immigrant. Mina herself is an orphan, having been separated from her parents during the Korean War, and has left Korea after the death of her husband and young daughter in an accident. She starts out living in a house with other recent immigrants, working in a Korean grocery store also frequented by Hispanics, first as a stocker and then as a checker.

As most everyone who lives and works in Los Angeles' Koreatown speaks either Korean or Spanish, Mina never learns much English. Thus communication between the single mother and daughter is limited. Margot doesn't know (and doesn't ask) about her mother's backstory and her father (although the reader learns both through the flashbacks). By the time Margot is old enough to have memories, her mother is operating a "store" at a swap meet (after her clothing store burns down in the 1992 Los Angeles riots), and Margot resents having to help after school and on weekends.

The book is very personal for debut author Nancy Jooyoun Kim (who is the daughter-in-law of a member of my book club).  Her parents were both born in North Korea. and her father left before his parents could escape, and he never knew what happened to them.  Nancy's parents never talked much about their immigrant experiences, which was an inspiration for the book.  There's also lots of mentions of Korean food in the book, which I've never had before - now I am curious to try some.  There are some recipes in the book club guide on the author's website. ( )
  riofriotex | Jan 24, 2021 |
I absolutely adored this book! The Last Story of Mina Lee is an exquisite, delicate look at families in separation, a mystery and delectable descriptions of Korean foods I wish I knew more about, all wrapped up in one small beauty of a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ book ( )
  leslico | Jan 19, 2021 |
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Jung, GretaNarradorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
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For my mother
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Margot's final conversation with her mother had seemed so uneventful, so ordinary---another choppy bilingual plod. Half understandable.
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"Sometimes, agreeing to the same lie is what makes a family family, Margot."
And the whole world told women every day, If you are alone, you are no one. A woman alone is no one at all.
Margot never knew what to do with the bright flashes of who her mother was that would threaten to burn them all to the ground.
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An electrifying debut novel for fans of Celeste Ng and Jean Kwok, The Last Story of Mina Lee is a poignant mother-daughter story and surprising mystery 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 and finds that her mother has died under suspicious circumstances. 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 years in Los Angeles as she navigates the promises and perils of the American myth of reinvention. 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.

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