Friday, October 20, 2017

*Review* The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

Genre: Historical Fiction
Published: March 21, 2017
Pages: 384

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.

I have read and thoroughly enjoyed a couple other books by this author, so when I saw it was available at my library I immediately put a hold on it. Thankfully the wait wasn’t too long, because I was quite eager to get into this one.

Out of everything that happened in this book, I think the part that appealed to me the most was learning about the ethnic minorities in China. I knew a little about them, but there's so much that I really did not comprehend before reading this book… and it only dives in a bit. It’s definitely a topic I’d like to do more research on.

Amusing thing… I don't even like tea, but I have found a whole new respect for it. I still think it’s yucky though.

The whole full circle thing going on in the book, absolutely loved it. And I found it interesting reading about how some people handle adoption from outside of their ethnicity and the feelings of the children involved was also an important factor.

I found certain parts to have been glossed over more than I believe they should have, probably because they weren’t considered an important part of the story. I am especially talking about Li-yan’s first relationship.

Things did get a little slower toward the end, making it feel like it was dragging a bit. And the end felt like it was a bit too sudden - I’d have loved to read more.

Not that this wasn't completely unexpected, but Lisa see wrote yet another beautiful story rich in Chinese culture. Highly recommend her books.

4.02 9/283rds Platypires - Joood - Hooligan

Lisa See is the New York Times bestselling author of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Peony in Love, Shanghai Girls, Dreams of Joy, and China Dolls. Her most recent novel, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, will be released by Scribner in March 2017. Booklist has said of the new novel, “See’s focus on the unbreakable bonds between mothers and daughters, by birth and by circumstance, becomes an extraordinary homage to unconditional love.” Ms. See has also written a mystery series that takes place in China, as well as On Gold Mountain, which is about her Chinese-American family. Her books have been published in 39 languages. Ms. See was honored as National Woman of the Year by the Organization of Chinese American Women in 2001, was the recipient of the Chinese American Museum’s History Makers Award in 2003, and is slated to receive the Golden Spike Award from the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California in 2017.

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