The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

Review From User :

Lisa See fans.... ARE GOING TO BE HAPPY with "The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane".
ANOTHER HISTORY LESSON WITH INTIMACY of CHARACTERS....and TONS of HEART!!

Lisa's new novel has all the elements we loved from several of her books....
"The Snow Flower and The Secret Fan", "Shanghai Girls", and "Dream of Joys"....
Compelling storytelling, historically-set in a remote region, and culture, well researched, beautifully woven plot, an expanded appreciation for the Chinese history,
Heritage, family traditions, spirits and superstitions, sacrifices, rituals, ancestor worship, cleansing ceremonies, Government policies, family policies, embroidering by women, and chores, men smoking pipes and their hunting stories, and specifically in "The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane", we learn more about "Pu'er' Tea..... a fermented tea produced in the Yunnan Province, China by the Akha People. The Akha are one of the smallest, poorest, and least developed mountain hill tribe groups. The Akha women wear elaborate decorated head caps.
Lisa teaches us a lot about the tea industry and other background information about the Cultural Revolution. It's interesting looking from inside out and outside in. We see the great differences a small primitive tribe has to the greater world at large.
In China the Akha are also known as Hani. The Akha ethnic group is also found in Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar.
The Akha village leaders are also regarded as primary religious leaders. They oversee the sacred "Spirit Gates". If a person touches the gate - bumps into it... it's a bad evil omen.
So many rules: one child policy.... (later years they abandoned the one-child policy)....but also up until around 20 years ago if twins were born --they were a spiritual interference with human matters.....
So they were discarded human rejects, ( in other words killed).

The heart and soul of the history Lisa See wrote about in this novel -- as well as a deeper look at the repercussions of the Chinese Children adopted by American parents ---is vividly felt by getting to first know Li-Yan, starting when she was as young as ten years of age. We learn how independent her thinking was---very different from her mother. ( a midwife)
Li-Yan was the only girl of three brothers. We learn more about Li-Yan by admiring the type of friend she is with her best friend, Ci-ten.
Li-Yan values her studies ( the only one in her family to get an education). Her teacher, Zhang, had a great influence--( encourages Li-Yan to continue higher education and get away from her mountain), but so does the power of love.
Li-Yan loved a boy named San-pa. The parents don't extend their blessings for their union in marriage due to the fact that their birth signs not being compatible. San-pa born on a Tiger Day. Li-Yan born on a Pig Day.
The storytelling telling and 'language' around young people having sex was interesting.
I tried to imagine America customs like these found in the Yunnan village... and I couldn't see it.

There were some taboos --- worse than 'foot binding' -- such as we read about in "The Snow Flower and the Secret Fan", .....which is killing a newborn baby because of crippling generational rules. So when Li-Yan discovers she is pregnant with San-pa's child .....( and he does not even know because he is in Thailand), the choices presented to Li-Yan are inhumane.
The day Li-Yan's water breaks, her mother follows proper rituals.....a beautiful baby girl is born.
"Terror that A-ma will insist I use ash and rice husk mixture on my baby. Concern that
A-ma is going to remove Spiny-thistle from my arms and I do what I cannot. I don't have the strength to fight A-ma for my daughter when I just gave birth. And even if I fought and won..."
I'll leave you there....'hanging'. --- well, as you already know Li-Yan's daughter, Haley, does live....... interweaving stories of Li-Yan and Haley.
They are tied together by the beauty of Pu'er Tea. Challenges and emotions - are explored. Li-Yan's inner voice is a powerful authentic voice throughout this story. She struggles to find a balance between her Akha upbringing and the modern changes in China.
And tea.... Tea drinkers will appreciate this story!

Thank You Scribner, NetGalley, and Lisa See


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.

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