The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See REVIEW




I kindly received The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane for review purposes by Simon & Schuster Canada.

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

Author  Lisa See
384 pages

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.  -Simon and Schuster Canada


I dove into the life of Li-Yan, the main character of this novel.  I watched her learn so many things from her “A-ma” (Mother) and make mistakes too. I watched what it might feel like growing up as an “Akha” (a Chinese Ethnic Minority in a tea farming community.) The Akha produce pu’er tea. A tea that is very earthy and has a lot of incredible health benefits if its picked and fermented correctly.  Right from the beginning of the book the culture and the way of the Akha life is clearly established.

The story continues in this remote Yunnan village a stranger arrives and this changes many things for Li-Yan and for the Akha. She translates for the stranger as she is one of the few educated girls in the village. 


The Akha have many traditions and rituals along with taboos. In the beginning of the book the family exchange their dreams and “A-ma” (Mother) reflects upon each dream and its meaning.  “A-ma” (Mother) says “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.” pg.3

I feel that this is a metaphor for what happens next.  Li-Yan has a baby outside of wedlock. She strays from her family traditions. She wraps her daughter in a blanket with a tea cake and leaves her at an orphanage in a city close by. Even though she feels that she has made some mistakes she continues her life by making better and smarter decisions. I really admire her strength and courage. I always feel that she is protected and has a connection with her mother throughout the novel. I also feel that she has a strong spiritual connection with her lost daughter.

After leaving her child at the orphanage she struggles emotionally and as a mother my self, I felt her pain through the pages. What comes next is even harder for Li-Yan. I don’t want to give too much away but I will say that this book is truly wonderful and I absolutely love it.  I really love the connection between mother and daughter. The main character is strong and courageous in many ways through her journey. I  love how well the books flows. I really enjoyed the parts of the book that explore the story of Li-Yan’s daughter and her life. I also really like the love story that happens. It is truly beautiful and sweet. I’m really satisfied with the ending and it’s a story I will always remember. 

It’s a beautiful book that I truly recommend. I give this book a 5/5 stars. Truly incredible! 

A wonderful link to check out. Author Lisa See’s Travels. 

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