I haven't read a book that touched my heart like this one did in a while. I found myself completely lost in Li-yan's transformative journey from a naive young girl into her own womanhood. As a young woman who has made mistakes and is doubtful about the future, this was such an inspiring read. I also thoroughly enjoyed learning about the Akha culture and Pu'er tea growing!
A colleague recommended this to me because she knows I get a little nerdy about tea. The story was engaging - it was one of few books that I was inspired to "sneak off and read" when I could get a chance. I enjoyed the main character's perspective and some of the other insights and cultural pieces offered in the book.
It definitely does get into tea - the harvesting, the making and history of pu'er, the market over the years, the steeping and some of the lore.
If you are a tea lover who likes a good "triumph over adversity" story, this is a good read for you!
I enjoyed the book largely because of what I learned about different aspects of tea culture and the Ahka. There were passages where I felt there were too many details for my liking, but overall I appreciated this book.
This is my favourite book that I've read all year. I'm a sap. So expect a fairy tale story of sorts.
It's not overdone, & it's worth the read. It follows the story of a young girl into motherhood, her children, her family, and the path she takes throughout her life. In trying to write this comment about the novel right now, I am finding it difficult to not give away important details. So, just read it. If you like reading about love, loss, culture, and strong feminine protagonists, then pick this book up.
Well-researched story of ethnic Chinese woman and her out-of-wedlock daughter adopted by an American family. It traces the lives of ethnic Chinese in Yunnan involved in the artisanal tea business and recent Chinese entrepreneurs. The book's opening adage about coincidence plays throughout the stories being told. Maybe too much information, at least for me, which got in the way of the main story lines.
Largely a good story. The initial submersion into an ancient culture and its people is extremely well told (as is some of China's history from that viewpoint), and when the now familiarized reader later sees some of those ancient customs in a most jarring contrast to the methods of the modern western world, they no longer seem at all strange but rather quite appropriate for the occasion.
On the other hand, the fate of the main character travels a path almost laughably fairy tale-ish (you can see it coming for miles), and I hate stories that require a man (especially an extremely wealthy one) for things to turn out well for the heroine (and there's more than one very rich "prince charming" in this story which negates it being indicative purely of an older culture where women seldom if ever advanced without a wealthy, male benefactor...).
Thankfully, the final pages of the book return once again to the ancient culture, and amidst its old and ordered customs a rather lovely - if purely serendipitous - ending offers some small redemption for the book's failings mid-tale.
I can easily lose myself in any Lisa See novel, and THE TEA GIRL OF HUMMINGBIRD LANE is no exception. Once again See has done her research and crafted a compelling tale which not only entertains but expands readers’ appreciation for Chinese history, culture, and traditions. Many universal themes like family, particularly mothers and daughters, coming of age, love, sacrifice, and redemption are present here. In addition the author incorporates many issues so relevant in today’s world within the intricately woven plot: women’s rights, the effects of globalization on society, as well as the consequences of adopting Chinese girls by the West. At the heart of the novel is the role tea plays in the lives of the protagonists, and my one criticism is that there are times when See describes all things “tea” to excess (its cultivation, processing, marketing, and so on) that the narrative flow gets bogged down. Comparisons to wine are obvious. Of course I’m not a tea drinker, but if anything could prompt me to become one it would be this excellent book.
The story was enjoyable and the research that went into this book was excellent. Lisa See added so much to the story by telling about the ethnic minority people in China.
I learned a lot about a Chinese ethnic minority in China and their culture. I learned a lot about pu'er tea . But I felt there was something missing in this book. I think it should have been two books. Haley's life and feelings are not well developed and the ending is especially abrupt. This is not one of Lisa See's best books in my opinion.
Enjoyed this book immensely. Lisa See fully captures the pain of losing a child as well as Li-Yan's determination to continue living. Knowledge gained by the reader about the traditions of the Akha people and the history of tea in China.
Li-yan is an Akha girl, a Chinese minority tribe whose livelihood depends on tea. They govern themselves by ancient traditions, all of which Li-yan breaks in one way or another. Not casually, but with great despair and anxiety. And her veering from the set path does cause her problems, though obeying them would have been deeply unfair. She marries a man she loves rather than one who is "suitable" -- and he turns out to be a loser who wanted to ride the coat tails of a smart successful woman. She has his baby before they are married, and according to tradition should have killed her. She cannot, though, and leaves her at an orphanage. This, too, causes her great sorrow, although killing the baby would have, too. She leaves her tribal homeland and becomes a very successful purveyor of tea. All the while she yearns for the daughter she gave up. Meanwhile, her daughter was adopted by an American couple, and we meet her through letters and essays she writes as she wonders about her origins. Ultimately she and Li-yan find each other.
I enjoyed this book, but somehow didn't get caught up in it. I followed the narrative, but the feelings of the characters didn't resonate with me. The words just didn't leave the page and get into my heart.
This is Lisa See's best book. Well, I have read "Peony in Love" which was interesting but lacking something I can't put my hand on. The characters are kind of weak and wimpy to me. The tea girl book is much better with strong characters and likable personality. I feel like I'm cheering for the main character"The Girl" the moment I met her. The novel described a lot of hard to understand ideas that the western world have over come and yet still exists such as male dominated society and superstitions.
I'm a tea lover and have visited countrysides where tea were produced. The locations were beautifully described. I enjoyed this book a lot.
What an enjoyable book, with abundant and meaningful cultural detail and rich characterization. I could visualize everyone and really pulled into the story. I was in tears at the end. I want to read more Lisa See!
I learned so much, I craved tea, I was astonished by the changes China experienced in such a short time, I was pulled into the characters stories...In other words I loved it.
What an interesting book! Loved learning about the Chinese tea industry & the Akha mountain tribe's beliefs & customs. A wonderful story of a mother's love for her child.
this was the first of Ms. See's books I've read. It was compelling and interesting. I loved the exotic locales and cultures. I will be requesting & reading more of Ms. See's novels.
Another good story from Lisa See. We learn about tea (a lot) and the customs & lifestyle of the Akha people of China.
Li-yan lives by the customs of her people but when she gives birth an illegitimate child, she cannot bring herself to follow her people's custom and, instead, finds a way to bring the girl to an orphanage.
A story of loss, growth, love, acceptance and cultures.
Lisa See manages to tell Haley's story as well in a manner that brings her close to us and at the same time, distant....since we don't meet her directly as she grows up.
A heartwarming story. I enjoyed every page.
The author creates a fine balance between story-line and detail. It's a beautifully written story about an isolated culture in a time of modernization with stringent traditional views on children. The work of the village is to produce and sell tea. A daughter given to an orphanage blends heritage, lost family, and a burgeoning tea trade that brews a story as rich and smooth as the tea that is produced. I'd put this toward the top of her list of books.
I am so glad I had taken an introduction to tea class at a local tea shop before reading this book. In particular, knowing about Pu’erh tea which is featured in this book was helpful. I would have enjoyed the book without the class, but being able to visualize how the tea was picked and processed as I read was very helpful. Another aspect I enjoyed was featuring a minority group. I’ve taken numerous college classes on China, and was pleased to be reading about a group other than the Hans. Watching a young girl fight the sexist world view of her community, watching her find her voice and become successful was a vital part of the story. Adding the personal story of her daughter given up for adoption and the open ending of the two meeting by chance created a very pleasing book to read in my otherwise dreary rainy winter.
This is the story of Li-yan and her mother and Li-yan and her daughter, whom she had to give away, as she was born out of wedlock. The novel had everything I wanted and more. It was very informative about the Yunan tribe, Akha, and their tea. The three generations are bound by their love for tea and the plot is woven cleverly. At first I thought the practises of the tribal village were gruesome but later I developed a "who am I to judge" philosophy and enjoyed the book thoroughly. Li-Yan's daughter Haley sums up her philosophy brilliantly when she accepts that she is 100% American and 100% Chinese. She is not half and half. She is fully both. Yes, she is truly a GLobal citizen as are many of us today. You cannot go wrong with this book.
Thoroughly researched and incredibly written, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane tells the story of Li-yan a member of the Akha. Li-yan bucks tradition and makes incredibly hard decisions for herself and the daughter she gives away. Mother and daughter lead full rich lives separately until their lives intersect in the perfect ending to this story.