#BookReview: The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

“Rarely do great beauty and virtue dwell together as they do in you.”

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

The Tea Girl

4 stars


  • Immersive historical details
  • Exploration of Akha and adoptee culture
  • Complex and rich mother-daughter relationships


  • Authorial voice present
  • Switching of perspectives

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane is another great historical fiction book done by Lisa See. She is a master at capturing times past with vivid details. Her new novel is a sweeping book that spans from 1988 to 2016.

I love that See introduced a minority people group of China, the Akha. She really wove in interesting details about their culture and way of living. I also enjoyed learning more about Pu’er tea. However, I did sometimes feel her authorial voice present because she had to explain certain words, items, or rituals. That paused the flow of the story.

The Tea Girl is told from two different perspectives, the mother and the daughter. Although I appreciated reading their different viewpoints and experiences (particularly those dealing with an adoptee’s emotions), I preferred Li-Yan’s voice more. I had a hard time getting into the daughter’s world—perhaps this is a function of a lot of her voice being told from documents and other notes.

I took off a star for the authorial voice, perspective switching, and the overly lucky fortune of Li-Yan meeting Jin (too fairtytale-like for me). Plus, I felt the ending was abrupt. This was probably more my own issue. I had the expectation that I would fully see the conclusion from both sides. Since it was a single point of view, I felt emotionally unresolved at the end.

Overall, See adds another great novel to her list. I really admire how she did tons of research and brought to life a little-known culture.

Find more of my book ratings and reviews here.

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  1. This looks good. I really enjoyed Shanghai Girl and Snow Flower and the Secret Fan so I’m sure I’d like this one too.

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