The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See
Another Lisa See book, another satisfying read!
While technically this is a historical fiction, the timeline starts in the late-80’s and spans into the early 2000’s, so it’s hard to really categorize is as such. History-wise, we learn about China’s tea industry and the culture of those who grow the coveted pu’er, so I suppose it fits the bill in a way.
Anyway! The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane follows two characters: Li-yan as she comes of-age and figures out what she truly wants to do with her life. (Don’t we all?) The cultural practises of her people, the Akha, are as shocking as they are intriguing.
The second narrative Lisa See switches to is that of Haley, who as a Chinese girl adopted by a white, American couple, is also trying to figure out who she truly is.
The one of the things I enjoyed the most about The Tea Girl was the emphasis on Asian stereotypes in North American culture. As a half-Asian who’s pretty awful at math, why is it that the majority of white people think we’re all going to be prodigies of some form? Or want to be one, for that matter. I’ll stop there before I get too ranty.
Overall, The Tea Girl kept me reading until it was beyond my bedtime. I loved the bond Li-yan shared with her mother despite their differences of opinion of their culture. I’m really only docking a 1/2 star because the whole thing with the tiger was a little ridiculous. I didn’t even mind the ending and thought it was pretty picture-perfect needing no more explanation.
My rating: ★★★★½/5 stars