In The Last Story of Mina Lee, I See My Own Korean-American Story and the Sacrifices That Got Us Here

When my father was a toddler, he was adopted from an orphanage in Korea by an American couple. While we haven’t been able to track down the identity of his biological Korean mother (his father was an American soldier), we do know that for reasons we may never fully understand, she gave him up for adoption to have a chance at a better life, a life she didn’t think she’d ever be able to give him. It’s a sacrifice I can’t even begin to understand making.

My story is not identical to that of 20-something Margot Lee in Nancy Jooyoun Kim’s debut novel, The Last Story of Mina Lee, and that’s kind of the point. We’re the same, but different. Those of us living in the United States whose ancestors came from other countries (and, just a reminder, that’s a lot of us) have our own unique stories of pain, loss, risk, hope, luck, and love that have led us to where we are now in this “land of the free and the home of the brave.” But many of us can relate to the recurring themes that Kim includes around the struggle, sacrifice, and bravery of immigrants coming to America for a chance at a better life.

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