Lisa See's The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

SeeHummLaneSee is the author of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (2005), Peony in Love (2007), Shanghai Girls (2009), and other noted works of historical fiction. She has an amazing family history, with Chinese relatives on her father’s side numbering 400. And that is in Los Angeles alone! Her mother was the noted American author, Carolyn See.

Lisa See always has been fascinated with her Chinese family lineage and her writing substantiates this. The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane (publication date: 21 March 2017) explores one of the 44 ethnic minorities in China—the Akha. The Akha of the Yunnan province are a mountain tribe whose sustenance comes from growing tea. They live in remote areas of China, and for centuries, were removed from the major social changes that the country had seen. They believe strongly in a spirit world and this figures prominently in the story.

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane highlights the relationship of three strong women over the course of 20+ years. The book examines the meaning of mother-love as it explores the lives of a mother and daughter (Li-Yan and Haley), who are separated at the daughter’s birth and live worlds apart.

The history and methods of tea growing are explored extensively and provide some of the most fascinating passages in the book. See doesn’t hesitate tackling big issues such as global warming and its effects on the forests of China. And, through the character of Haley, the author highlights the effects of international adoption on the adoptees, their birth mothers and the families that adopt them.

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane is both evocative in its language and highly readable. If you are a fan of Lisa See, or simply enjoy historical fiction, this book is not to be missed.

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