The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane
Lisa See Pages: 364 Published: 2017
The book: In a remote Akha village in the mountains of China, where life revolves around tea picking, Li-yan finds herself pregnant by a man her parents consider a bad match and who, in any case, has left their village. A baby born outside of wedlock, it is traditionally believed, will bring bad luck to the village. In desperation, Li-yan puts her baby in a box and leaves it in the street, near to an orphanage in a nearby town.
What will become of the baby? What will happen to Li-yan? Will the man she loves return? Will she ever see the baby she abandoned again?
You might like it because: See’s writing is wonderful. She brings to life the culture and life of the Akha people in an authentic and vivid way. This is a wonderful story of a mother’s love and sacrifice, and survival.
What did other people say?
“A lush tale infused with clear-eyed compassion, this novel will inspire reflection, discussion and an overwhelming desire to drink rare Chinese tea.”
-Helen Simonson The Washington Post
“In rendering the complex pain and joy of the mother-daughter bond, Lisa See makes this novel — dedicated to her own mother, author Carolyn See, who died last year — a deeply emotional and satisfying read.”- USA Today
Awards & Recognition:
An Amazon Best of the Month Editor’s Pick
A Barnes and Noble Best New Fiction Recommendation for March
How quickly will you get into the book? See’s writing and vivid descriptions of life in an Akha village in rural China pulled me into the story right away. By page 30, I was completely hooked.
You might not like it because: Lisa See has clearly researched her subject matter in depth, which is very evident. But for some readers there may be too much detail, which they may find gets in the way of the plot.
The first four words of the novel are: “No coincidence, no story,” However, some readers might feel that there are too many coincidences when it comes to the plot.
What might you read next?
In the list of acknowledgements at the back of the book, Lisa See mentions Xinran, whom she has worked with and whose work she admires. Read her book Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother. In it she recounts the stories of ten Chinese women who were forced to give up their daughters for adoption.
Or read some fiction based on a true story involving the kidnap and adoption, for money, of American children in Tennessee, Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate.
Or stick with Hummingbirds. Move from China to Mexico and read The Hummingbird’s Daughter by Luis Alberto Urrea.
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