Book Club: The Tea Girl on Hummingbird Lane

Yet again, I am off a week on book club.  I just can’t get it together.  Honestly, I didn’t realize that last Friday was the last one in the month. For some reason I had it in my head that today was the last day of April.  Oh well, better late than never, right? For April, I chose The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See. I have to say that I really liked this book up until the very last page.  I thought it was a great story that held my interest throughout, but I was shocked when I got to the last page only to discover that was the end of the book.  I turned the page expecting to continue reading, but there was nothing.  This is one of those books where I immediately thought that there had to be a sequel.  Surely, the story doesn’t really end there.  I NEED to know what happens next, but I will never know.  I am left to imagine what happens next in my head.  I assume that is what Lisa See wanted the reader to do, but it still leaves me longing for more.  I know I say that about a lot of the stories that I review.  I never really want them to end, but this one was different.  I was just so surprised at how the story ended leaving me with an unfinished feeling.

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane is a story of a young girl, Li-yan (or Girl as her family affectionately called her), who grew up in the mountains of China among the Akha.  The Akha people were tea famers who were steeped in customs, rituals, and traditions (including strict roles for men and women).  They lived in the mountains with little to no knowledge of the world outside of their village with no electricity, plumbing, or creature comforts even in 90’s and into the new millennium.  The lived off the land and the very little money they made harvesting the tea leaves.  Li-yan’s mother, A-ma, was a healer of sorts and served as the midwife in the village.  She believed that Li-yan would take over for her as the village’s midwife once she was gone.  She brought Li-yan along with her for one birth in particular as a learning opportunity.  This birth was unusual as the mother gave birth to twins.  The Akha people believed that twins were a bad omen from the spirits and called the newborns “human rejects.” It was their custom to have the babies’ father to kill the human rejects and bury them outside the village in the woods in order to please the spirits.  Her witness to this custom along with her own young love and unexpected pregnancy led Li-yan to question and turn away from the rituals and beliefs of her family.  It sent her on a journey of hardship and loss. She not only discovered who she was and what she truly believed in, but it also led her right back to the family and traditions that she once ran from where she was able to bless her people in ways they never dreamed possible.

Despite my need to know more at the end of this story, I still really enjoyed it and would highly recommend it to you all.  It was such a great story, and I will hold on to hope that a sequel will be written one day. See’s development of the characters was so well done that it helped me totally picture what it was like to live in those mountains, the reality of the hardships the Akha people faced because of their beliefs, and the incredible hard work it took them to harvest the tea leaves.  Despite my need to know more, I still really enjoyed this story and would recommend it to you all.  It was such a great story about the unbreakable bond between mothers and daughters, and I will hold on to hope that a sequel will be written one day. This story truly was one of growth and change, and I really loved it.

My pick for May is a New York Times Bestseller that was named one of the best books of the year last year by PeopleVogueParade, NPR, and Elle.  Ask Again, Yes is a novel by Mary Beth Keane.  This is a story of the lifelong friendship and love of Peter Stanhope and Kate Gleeson and the night that changed them both and tested their bond for many years to come. Here is what Apple Books had to say about this novel.

“We lost track of time reading Mary Beth Keane’s novel about two families linked by professional and neighborly bonds—before they’re blown apart by tragedy. Ask Again, Yes centers on the Gleesons and the Stanhopes, two families whose fathers met as rookie policemen and whose children develop a deep and lasting bond. Keane is sympathetic to all of her characters, which makes the story of how one destructive person can harm a web of relationships all the more affecting. Like a brilliant painter’s use of negative space, Keane withholds certain information to make this saga a thrilling and moving read.”

Will you come along and read with me?

Anchored in a Good Book,

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