[Review] The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

Publisher and Publication Date: Scribner. April 3, 2018.
Genre: Historical fiction. Women in literature.
Pages: 393 pages with writing.
Format: Paperback.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Historical fiction readers of women in literature.
Rating: Very good.

Link for the book @ Amazon.


Li-yan lives in the mountains of China where tea is grown and harvested. She is an Akha people. They are a culturally distinct group of people who live in the rural Nannuo Mountain area of Yunnan. Yunnan province is located in the southwestern area of China, and near the countries of Myanmar and Laos.

Li’yan is intelligent. She enjoys school and does well. Her teacher encourages her to take a test so she may attend a school of higher learning.

Meanwhile, she meets a young man whom her parents’ dislike. They believe he is not right for her. They will not be a good match.

Li-yan begins secretly meeting the young man until he leaves the area to try and earn a better living for their future.

The story is told in five parts each separated by periods of years.

My Thoughts:

The first two chapters are depressing. I wondered if the entire story would continue to be filled with sadness. If so, I decided to take a break and read something else and later come back to it.

Part three issued in a new and lighter storyline. The atmosphere of the story changed. New characters are added. The scenery and environment changed. Whew.

I am drawn to read stories of women who live in China, Japan, Vietnam, North and South Korea, and other countries located in this region of the world. I want to learn about their lives. I want to learn about the culture, religions, and customs. It gives me a chance to travel without leaving my reading chair. I feel a little knowledge about other people groups helps enrich my mind.

Several reasons why I love The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane:

  1. I love tea. It is a huge bonus in the story that I learned about a rare type of tea.
  2. Li-yan is a person to admire because of her strengths. She is a person who is a dimensional character. I see her positive and negative character traits. She has struggles. She has fears. She has tenacity. She has perseverance. She is a person who at first sight can be disregarded because of her size or cultural heritage. I consider her a diverse person. I consider her a hero.
  3. I love the structure of the story in that there are actually 3 stories in one book. The stories are not back and forth in time but travel chronologically and geographically.
  4. I love it that the males in the story are not the strongest characters. I mean that both ways. They are not strong in character and they are not the primary characters in the story.
  5. I am fascinated by the culture of this diverse and unique group of people called the Akha. I don’t always understand or agree with them. I dislike immensely one of their superstitions.

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