Title- The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane
Genre- Women’s fiction, Literary fiction
POV- First person, present tense
Similar Books/Comps– The Girl They Left Behind, China Dolls
I loved the mother-daughter theme and the unique cultural perspectives. The way everything came together and connected was satisfying. The present tense was refreshing and unexpected when the story began in the 1980s. I loved the relationship-based themes and the family element to the story.
What I’d change-
The long time gap was one of the hardest parts of connection for me. I love stories that happen in a short duration and this was spanned over 40ish years. I kept reading to learn the answer to one specific question, but some of the history, politics, & career information about tea bored me a little.
In their remote mountain village, Li-yan and her family align their lives around the seasons and the farming of tea. For the Akha people, ensconced in ritual and routine, life goes on as it has for generations—until a stranger appears at the village gate in a jeep, the first automobile any of the villagers has ever seen.
Slowly, Li-yan, one of the few educated girls on her mountain, begins to reject the customs that shaped her early life. When she has a baby out of wedlock she rejects the tradition that would compel her to give the child over to be killed, and instead leaves her, wrapped in a blanket with a tea cake tucked in its folds, near an orphanage in a nearby city.
As Li-yan comes into herself, leaving her village for an education, a business, and city life, her daughter, Haley, is raised in California by loving adoptive parents. Despite her privileged childhood, Haley wonders about her origins. Across the ocean Li-yan longs for her lost daughter. Over the course of years, each searches for meaning in the study of Pu’er, the tea that has shaped their family’s destiny for centuries.
“Maybe our lives are like gigantic jigsaw puzzles. You find the right piece and suddenly the whole picture has meaning.”
Would recommend it to those who like slower reads.