Sunday, April 16, 2017

Book Review: The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

Blurb by Simon & Schuster:
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.

Review by Virginia Denucci @ Steamboat Today

Growing up in the Ak-ha tribe in the 1980s was not easy for a woman. Li-Yan’s life was immersed in cultural taboos, superstitions, restrictions and curses. When she became pregnant out of wedlock, Li-Yan was forced to abandon her child, leaving her newborn daughter at the door of an orphanage, with no more than a tea cake from her secret, ancient tea trees. 

Several themes were intricately woven into this amazing story. See immerses the reader into the Chinese tea culture, from small village harvesting to a world-wide business. Enter the world of tea connoisseurs, who discuss vintage, harvests, seasons, geographic source, weather and, of course, age, as it relates to taste.

Review by Deborah Donovan @ Book Page:
See’s ambitious novel touches on Chinese cultural history, the centuries-old intricacies of the tea business and both the difficulties and joys of Chinese-American adoptions. But ultimately it’s a novel about the strength of mother-daughter ties—peopled, as is each of See’s novels, with strong characters with whom the reader empathizes from the first page to the last.

Review by Emily Kim @ the Washington Times:
The best-selling author of “Snow Flower and The Secret Fan” and “China Dolls,” Ms. See is known for writing historical fiction about the Chinese female experience. However in her new novel, Ms. See diverges from writing about the Han, China’s ethnic majority. Here, she focuses on a Chinese ethnic minority, the Akha.

Ms. See gradually gives information about the Akha’s culture, not overwhelming the reader with information. However, the beginning is most heavy with rituals, beliefs and taboos that the narrator, Li-yan reveals.

Review by Terry Hong @ Book List Online:
See, herself partly of Chinese ancestry, creates a complex narrative that ambitiously includes China’s political and economic transformation, little-known cultural history, the intricate challenges of transracial adoption, and an insightful overview of the global implications of specialized teas. The only possible flaw is that some may consider her magic-wand ending unbelievable. 


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