This is what I call an OMG book! I have unveiled it at book lectures the past month. There have been gasps and big grins. Everyone is anxious to read it. It is magnificent. Not since, “Snow Flower And The Secret Fan”, has Lisa See had me so excited. We’re back in China and in a huge way. You’re about to enter the intoxicating world of “The Tea Girl Of Hummingbird Lane”, by Lisa See.
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…
It’s truly astonishing that the timeline for this novel begins in 1988. That just seems so modern. But it’s far from modern high in the remote tea-growing mountains of China. The small village inhabited by the Akha people is home to Li-Yan and her family. Her mother is the midwife who also heals with her ancient cures. And this is where the finest tea comes from. Some of the tea trees are anywhere from one hundred to three hundred years old. That is hard to comprehend. And that’s where this amazing story completely “got” me.
Early in the story, there is one of the most disturbing scenes I’ve ever read. It occurs when Li-Yan’s mother takes her along to help with a birth. It’s Li-Yan’s first birth. So many backward beliefs were still being upheld at this time. In this case it involves the birth of twins; both healthy. But they are twins; considered to be human rejects…. From this point on I could not take my eyes off the pages. I couldn’t read quickly enough. I even ran to the other room where my husband was quietly watching tv and made him listen while I told him what I had just read. Monstrous!
Li-Yan is one of the few educated girls on the mountain. Blessing and curse. But even this will not save her from hardship and mistakes and the misery of being a young woman in China.
However, Li-Yan knows something secret. She and her mother are the keepers of the tea trees. Only the women in their family are allowed to even know where these ancient trees grow. Hidden away from the entire world, these trees will eventually change their lives.
China was still abiding by the one child law at this time. And many babies born out-of-wedlock were adopted out to Americans. This is a part of the story. And it’s heartbreaking. But it’s not like any other novel.
I love the extensive research See has done with this novel. She went to China on a tea buying trip with Linda Louie who owns Bana Tea Company. They deal primarily in Pu’er tea which is the tea in the book. To say that Lisa See has completely immersed herself in the Pu’er tea world is a gross understatement. I found myself racing to the computer to check it out. And then I discovered a tearoom in Punta Gorda, Florida that serves it. Yes, I sat on the quaint porch with a friend and we quietly sipped this delicious brew. Tina’s Cafe and Bakery Vienna. On Taylor Street.
I’ve been telling people that this book will draw you in the same way Snow Flower did. See used the foot binding in that amazing book. In this one there is something even more horrendous. And you will be taken. Taken away to China and the amazing world of Li-Yan and her family and , of course, the tea…
I love a good cup of tea. The past several years I’ve become especially fond of unique new teas. I’ve discovered the world of Teavana Tea Company and make it my business to have all sorts of specialty teas in the house at all times.
I truly believe this book is going to explode onto the reading scene on March 21 with a fury. And rightly so. Pre-order your copy now. You are going to want to start reading it as soon as it’s available. Let me know what you think? I can’t wait to talk to you about it.
My review copy arrived from the generous people at Scribner, a division of Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review. OMG! is my highest rating. THE TEA GIRL OF HUMMINGBIRD LANE has earned it and then some. I absolutely LOVE it!