The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See
Published by Scribner on March 21st 2017
Genres: Fiction, Historical
LINKS: Good Reads | Amazon | Indigo | Book Depository
Li-yan and her family align their lives around the seasons and the farming of tea. There is ritual and routine, and it has been ever thus for generations. Then one day a jeep appears at the village gate—the first automobile any of them have seen—and a stranger arrives.
In this remote Yunnan village, the stranger finds the rare tea he has been seeking and a reticent Akha people. In her biggest seller, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, See introduced the Yao people to her readers. Here she shares the customs of another Chinese ethnic minority, the Akha, whose world will soon change. Li-yan, one of the few educated girls on her mountain, translates for the stranger and is among the first to reject the rules that have shaped her existence. When she has a baby outside of wedlock, rather than stand by tradition, she wraps her daughter in a blanket, with a tea cake hidden in her swaddling, and abandons her in the nearest city.
After mother and daughter have gone their separate ways, Li-yan slowly emerges from the security and insularity of her village to encounter modern life while Haley grows up a privileged and well-loved California girl. Despite Haley’s happy home life, she wonders about her origins; and Li-yan longs for her lost daughter. They both search for and find answers in the tea that has shaped their family’s destiny for generations.
** Received an ARC from Simon & Schuster Canada for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion at all. Thank you!! **
“No coincidence, no story,” my a-ma recites, and that seems to settle everything, as it usually does, after First Brother finishes telling us about the dream he had last night.
COVER 🌟🌟🌟🌟 PLOT 🌟🌟🌟
CHARACTERS 🌟🌟🌟🌟 ATMOSPHERE 🌟🌟🌟🌟
WRITING 🌟🌟🌟🌟 FEELS 🌟🌟🌟🌟
The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See is a historical fiction about the love of a mother/daughter, adoption, cultural customs, and most importantly tea! This one was a bit out of my element and typical reading genre, but I thought I would give it a try. I was pleasantly surprised!
What I found the most eye opening about The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane was everything we get to learn about the Akha people of the Yunnan village. The majority of the villagers make a living from harvesting tea leaves. These are a people that are heavily ruled by superstitions and strict customs. So when Li-yan, our main protagonist has a baby out of wedlock, she must stay hidden and eventually give the baby up for a adoption or risk banishment.
See does a great job with the research it must have taken to put this all together. Weaving two very different stories about culture and diversity is a great feat!
There was an immensely lyrical prose to the writing of The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane. It has beautiful descriptions and the writing of it was quite immersive. Everything about the way See wrote this book seemed quite authentic and created a unique cultural tone that you don’t find very often when reading.
From beginning to end the prose was able to keep me engaged and wanting to know more about the culture and customs of the Akha people!
The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane is heavily influenced by tea. Not just any tea though, but Pu’re’ tea. I found it immensely fascinating to learn so much about tea that I didn’t know before reading this book. We get to learn about the growing of tea leaves in the Yunnan village, as well as tea customs and traditions such as serving the tea and the economical effects it has on the Akha people.
See must have done a great deal of research on this subject and it truly reflects in the way she incorporated it into the story!
Towards the middle of the story things started to drag a bit at a snails pace. There were areas of the story that I began to skim because I felt they didn’t add anything major to the overall story line.
Other than that I thoroughly enjoyed The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane!
I highly recommend this one if you want to broaden your reading horizons with more culture and diversity you wouldn’t normally get from the young adult genre. Let me know what you guys thought of The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See! I would love to hear your opinions as well!
Until next time,
Lisa See was born in Paris but grew up in Los Angeles. She lived with her mother, but spent a lot of time with her father’s family in Chinatown. Her first book, On Gold Mountain: The One Hundred Year Odyssey of My Chinese-American Family (1995), was a national bestseller and a New York Times Notable Book. The book traces the journey of Lisa’s great-grandfather, Fong See, who overcame obstacles at every step to become the 100-year-old godfather of Los Angeles’s Chinatown and the patriarch of a sprawling family.