The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

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.

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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

Introduction

In this stirring coming-of-age novel, a young Chinese woman finds purpose, passion, and the key to a new life in the tea-growing traditions of her ancestors.

High in the Yunnan mountains, Li-yan and her family, members of the Akha ethnic minority, live according to the precise rituals of their people. Then one day, the market economy, in the form of a businessman seeking a rare tea, arrives at their remote village and changes the community forever. As Li-yan’s family adapts to the incursion of the outside world, she falls in love with a boy who her mother believes is an inauspicious match. When she bears his child, instead of hewing to the tradition that would have her kill the little girl, she leaves her baby, wrapped in a blanket with a special tea cake inside, on the steps of a nearby orphanage. Through hard work, education, and an appreciation for Pu’er, her people’s special tea, Li-yan eventually makes a life for herself in the wide world outside her village. Yet, even as she finds a business and a husband that she loves, she see more

About the Author

Lisa See
Photograph © Patricia Williams

Lisa See

Lisa See is the New York Times bestselling author of The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Peony in Love, Shanghai Girls, China Dolls, and Dreams of Joy, which debuted at #1. Ms. See is also the author of On Gold Mountain, which tells the story of her Chinese American family’s settlement in Los Angeles. Ms. See was honored as National Woman of the Year by the Organization of Chinese American Women in 2001 and was the recipient of the Chinese American Museum’s History Makers Award in fall 2003.

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