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The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane: A Novel by…

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane: A Novel

by Lisa See

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I thought the tea history associated with China that the author incorporated was interesting, as was the culture of a minor ethnic mountain tribe. However, as the story progressed, it became predictable and sophomoric and my interest waned.
I suggest you read this book, as the audiobook is poorly narrated. ( )
  BALE | Sep 22, 2017 |
I only read this book as it was for my book club. I have previously read the author and her books are okay but really not worth my time. ( )
  kayanelson | Sep 19, 2017 |
"As A-ma said, every story, every dream, every waking minute of our lives is filled with one fateful coincidence after another. People and animals and leaves and fire and rain – we whirl around each other like handfuls of dried rice kernels being tossed into the sky. A single kernel cannot change its direction. It cannot choose to fly to the right or to the left nor can it choose where it lands – balanced on a rock, and therefore salvageable, or bouncing off that same rock into the mud, becoming instantly useless and valueless. Where they alight is fate, and nothing – no thing anyway – can change their destinies."

I picked this book up because I really enjoyed Lisa See’s Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (review), though I haven’t read anything else of hers. I was looking for a similarly engrossing read, and I was not disappointed.

Lisa See’s latest novel, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane , tells the story of Li-yan and her life as a tea farming Akha in a remote hill tribe village in Yunnan. When she has a baby out of wedlock, she abandons her in an orphanage in the closest town both as defiance of traditional Akha practices as well as in hopes of a better life for her daughter.

The heart of this book is about tea as well as mother-daughter relationships, not only between Li-yan and her lost daughter Hayley, but also between Li-yan and her own A-ma, the village midwife. It is clearly apparent that the author did extensive research, and I learned so much about tea (such as the history of pu’er) and the culture of the Akha people (a Chinese ethnic minority group).

“Rice is to nourish,” A-ma says. “Tea is to heal. Always remember that food is medicine, and medicine is food. If you take care of the trees, the trees will take care of you.”

Even though Li-yan made mistakes, she learned from them and grow as a person. Her strength and perseverance were admirable, and even though having her daughter affected the course of her life, she eventually pulled herself up and make her own path. We are also given snippets from Hayley’s life – emails between her adoptive mother and grandmother, transcripts from doctors and therapy sessions, papers she wrote during school – that provided just enough to glean a picture of Hayley: a strong, driven, and intelligent young woman. Hayley’s story felt like flipping through a scrapbook, and I thought it was a clever way to tell her story.

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane was well-paced for the most part, although the story slowed down slightly about two-thirds of the way through; however, it all came together for a highly satisfying ending that left me wanting to know more about these characters’ lives.

Thank you to NetGalley, Edelweiss, and Scribner for an advanced copy of this eBook in exchange for an honest review! ( )
  Allison_Krajewski | Sep 7, 2017 |
I liked this tale of an ethnic minority in China and the tug of war felt by one of it's members between the ancient traditions and new ideas. Unfortunately, the narrator of this audiobook had a sickeningly sweet voice which was somewhere between saccharine and whining. I suggest the book versus the audiobook. ( )
  hemlokgang | Aug 30, 2017 |
A fascinating journey through the compelling lives of a Chinese mother and her daughter who has been adopted by an American couple.

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane introduces us to the Akha people, culture and customs through the life journey of Li-yan. We follow her life as she harvests tea leaves with her family, finds love, gives birth to a beautiful baby girl, marries, leaves the village, goes away to school, and ultimately establishes her own business as a tea master of the rarest of teas, called pu’er. We also follow the life of Li-yan’s daughter, Haley, whom Li-yan was tragically forced to leave at an orphanage when Haley was only five days old. Haley was adopted by a wealthy American couple and lives a safe and happy life in California, but she has never stopped yearning to know her birth mother. And her birth mother never stop yearning for her daughter.

THE TEA GIRL OF HUMMINGBIRD LANE weaves a enthralling story of a Chinese ethic minority mother and daughter separated by circumstances and distance. The story is told to us as seen thorough the eyes of Li-yan, who has a difficult early life but she is ultimately the first person from her remote and untouched village to go to college and make her way in the modern world of electricity, cars, television and cell phones. Li-yan is an engaging character exhibiting strength, bravery and tremendous courage, while juggling her Akha traditions with her opportunities for the future. And all the while never forgetting about the daughter she had to give up.

Li-yan’s daughter, Haley’s story is quite different. She is brought up in the western culture with everything a girl could ask for, but she continually struggles to fits in. Haley’s discussion of not “fitting in” was very enlightening and worth the read. She longs to learn more about her birth family and about a tea cake and a drawing on it’s wrapper, which was left with her at the orphanage many years ago. Haley’s story is creatively chronicled through reports, emails and letters.

I loved the way LISA SEE expertly weaves in the Akha traditions and the tea industry into Li-yan’s life story. See’s writing is amazingly descriptive and yet lyrical. It’s educational and yet personable. This is my first book by Lisa See, and I found both her writing and her story exemplary. Highly recommend it to Lisa See fans, readers interested in other cultures, and those interested in foreign adoptions. ( )
  LisaSHarvey | Aug 29, 2017 |
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When a son is born,
Let him sleep on the bed,
Clothe him with fine clothes,
And give him jade to play . . .
When a daughter is born,
Let her sleep on the ground,
Wrap her in common wrappings,
And give her broken tiles to play . . . 
Book of Songs (1000-700 B.C.)
In memory of my mother, Carolyn See
First words
"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.
A spark lights a fire. Water sprouts a seed. The Akha way tells us that a single moment changes destinies.
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