The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

Lisa See

Scribner, 2017

Agent: Sandra Dijkstra

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.

Accolades:

#9 LibraryReads pick for March 2017

Reviews:
"[Lisa See] creates a complex narrative that ambitiously includes China’s political and economic transformation, little-known cultural history, the intricate challenges of transracial adoption, and an insightful overview of the global implications of specialized teas….As this is her first book since losing her own mother, bestselling author Carolyn See (to whom it is dedicated), See’s focus on the unbreakable bonds between mothers and daughters, by birth and by circumstance, becomes an extraordinary homage to unconditional love."
Booklist


"With vivid and precise details about tea and life in rural China, Li-Yan's gripping journey to find her daughter comes to life."
Publisher's Weekly


“The adage ‘no coincidence, no story,’ from China’s Akha minority serves as the backbone for this latest offering from See. Coincidences abound in this illuminating novel that contributes historical and social insight into the Akha…With strong female characters, See deftly confronts the changing role of minority women, majority-minority relations, East-West adoption, and the economy of tea in modern China.”
Library Journal


"Engrossing...a riveting exercise in fictional anthropology."
Kirkus Reviews


“Lisa See transports readers to the remote mountains of China…come for the heartwarming bonding between mother and daughter; stay for the insight into Akha culture and the fascinating (really!) history of the tea trade.”
—Real Simple