Lisa See’s new novel The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane is a historically accurate tale of a mother who had to give up her baby daughter and an adopted Chinese girl struggling to define herself. Raised in a small mountain village, brought up to follow the customs and rituals of generations of Akha, a little known Chinese ethnic minority, Li-Yan’s childhood is almost mythical. But when a foreigner arrives seeking the rare tea that only grows in these remote Yunnan areas, their way of life is disturbed, and Li-Yan’s eyes are opened to a wider world, a modern world, and her life is set on another path. Rather than abide by tradition when she has a baby out of wedlock, She surrenders her child, along with a legendary ancestral Pu'er tea cake, to an orphanage. She is soon adopted by American parents and raised in California. Mother and daughter search for answers in the ancient tea cake that has shaped their family's destiny. This is a moving story about a family, separated by circumstances, culture, and distance, that celebrates the powerful bond between mothers and daughters.
As published in the March 23 issue of Arts & Leisure section of Addison Independent.