The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

tea

Release Date: March 21,2017

Book Blurb from Goodreads.com

A thrilling new novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa See explores the lives of a Chinese mother and her daughter who has been adopted by an American couple.

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.

A powerful story about a family, separated by circumstances, culture, and distance, Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane paints an unforgettable portrait of a little known region and its people and celebrates the bond that connects mothers and daughters.

My Review:

This book follows the life of Li-yan who is a member of the Akha hill tribe in China. Her family, along with a large majority of the tribe, makes a living growing and harvesting tea. The tribe has some very strict practices and rituals based on superstition. Twin births are considered defects and classified as human rejects. Custom requires that they be killed by their father and the parents banished from the community.

Li-yan falls in love with a boy in the village named San-pa. The family does not want them involved due to their birth signs not being compatible. Li-yan discovers she is pregnant with San-pa’s child after he has moved to Thailand.  Her pregnancy is hidden with the assistance of her mother.  After the birth, the baby is placed in an orphanage and adopted in America.

The book follows Li-yan’s life over the next twenty years as she ventures outside her tribe into the modern day world. Li-yan aches to find the child that she gave up. She has little information on her daughter from the orphanage due to their poor record keeping. Her daughter named Haley lives in California and is also searching for clues about her natural parents. As a young adult she begins to trace her heritage based upon an item left with her at the orphanage.  Mother and daughter continue to pursue the answers from their past.

Descriptive and beautifully written, this book is a wonderful portrayal of overcoming obstacles. I enjoyed learning about a new culture while reading this well researched book.

 

 

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