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BOOK CLUB BUNDLES

Hi, I’m Lauren. The Library will provide books for your book club. Our book club bundles include 10 copies of the same title, along with a discussion guide. Check out available bundles when visiting the Library, or fill out the form below! Patrons can reserve book club bundles up to six months in advance. Our book club bundles are stored on the second floor for the public to browse and check out. Contact us at bookclub@gpld.org or call us at 630-232-0780 if you have questions.



The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

by Lisa See

GENRE: Mainstream Fiction

Raised in a remote Chinese village, Li-yan follows all of her village’s taboos and rituals until she has a daughter out of wedlock. She ensures the newborn’s survival by taking her to another town. The book follows the mother’s rise in the tea trade and daughter Haley’s life as the adopted child of a California couple.

Download Discussion Guide

REQUEST THE TEA GIRL OF HUMMINGBIRD LANE

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author biography

Lisa See’s new novel, The Island of Sea Women, is about the free-diving women of South Korea’s Jeju Island. Booklist called The Island of Sea Women “stupendous… enthralling…and engrossing.” Jodi Picoult has given her praise: “Lisa See excels at mining the intersection of family, friendship and history, and in her newest novel, she reaches new depths exploring the matrifocal haenyeo society in Korea, caught between tradition and modernization.  This novel spans wars and generations, but at its heart is a beautifully rendered story of two women whose individual choices become inextricably tangled.”  Independent booksellers honored the novel by selecting it as an Indie Next pick, while Barnes & Noble chose the novel for its nationwide March 2019 Book Club.

Ms. See is the New York Times bestselling author of The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, Snow Flower and the Secret FanPeony in LoveShanghai GirlsChina Dolls, and Dreams of Joy, which debuted at #1. She is also the author of On Gold Mountain, which tells the story of her Chinese American family’s settlement in Los Angeles. Ms. See has also written a mystery series that takes place in China. Her books have been published in 39 languages.  See was the recipient of the Golden Spike Award from the Chinese Historical Association of Southern California and the History Maker’s Award from the Chinese American Museum. She was also named National Woman of the Year by the Organization of Chinese American Women.

Ms. See wrote the libretto for Los Angeles Opera based on On Gold Mountain, which premiered in June 2000. That same year, she also curated the exhibition On Gold Mountain: A Chinese American Experience at the Autry Museum. Ms. See then helped develop and curate the Family Discovery Gallery at the Autry Museum, an interactive space for children and their families that focused on Lisa’s bi-racial, bi-cultural family. The installation was up for twelve years. In 2003, she curated the inaugural exhibition—a retrospective of artist Tyrus Wong—for the grand opening of the Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles. In addition, she designed a walking tour of L.A.’s Chinatown and wrote the companion guidebook for Angels Walk L.A. to celebrate the opening of the MTA’s Chinatown station.  As a longtime trustee on the University of California Press Foundation, she endowed the Lisa See Endowment Fund in Southern California History and Culture.

Ms. See lives in Los Angeles.  - Author's website

More titles by this author.

reviews

Booklist

In a remote mountain village, the survival of an Akha tribe, one of China's 55 ethnic minorities, depends on tea. Rigid traditions prohibit Li-yan from keeping her newborn. She saves her daughter by leaving her in a nearby town, wrapped in blankets with a tea cake that hints at her distinctive heritage. Over the course of decades, See (China Dolls, 2014) reveals Li-yan's exceptional story of departure and eventual return. Interspersed with Li-yan's peripatetic experiences are those of her daughter, the titular tea girl, divulged by medical reports, letters, even the transcript of a group therapy session for adopted Chinese teens. See, herself partly of Chinese ancestry, 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. The only possible flaw is that some may consider her magic-wand ending unbelievable. 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. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Bestselling See's latest will be vigorously promoted on all platforms as she meets readers on a 10-city tour.--Hong, Terry

Publisher's Weekly

Li-Yan is the youngest daughter of an Ahka family near Nannuo Mountain in China in 1949. She tries to follow Ahka law, the rules set forth by the beliefs of this ethnic minority, but at every turn she seems to find herself doing the opposite: An Ahka girl must obey and learn from her mother, but Li-Yan studies hard at a modern school. Although an Ahka girl should not speak to men, when foreigners arrive from Hong Kong in search of a renowned, aged tea called Pu'er, Li-Yan is the only one who can translate. If an Ahka girl gets pregnant, she must marry the boy, but when Li-Yan gives birth, the father is gone. And, according to Ahka law, a child born outside of marriage must be killed. But Li-Yan cannot bring herself to do it. Instead, she leaves her daughter at the doorstep of an orphanage. While Li-Yan matures into a successful tea master, the daughter, Haley, is adopted into a white American family in Los Angeles, and her existence is revealed in sporadic letters, school reports, and, later, emails. These sections capture both Haley's desire to fully integrate into her adopted family and her curiosity and heartache about her mother and the only clue she left behind: a tea cake. With vivid and precise details about tea and life in rural China, Li-Yan's gripping journey to find her daughter comes alive. (Mar.)

Library Journal

The adage, "No coincidence, no story," from China's Akha minority serves as the backbone for this latest offering from See (Shanghai Girls). Coincidences abound in this illuminating novel that contributes historical and social insight into the Akhas, an animistic people who lived modestly and virtually untouched by modernity in the mountains of China, and tea production in an increasingly globalized world. A growing taste for pu'er, a rare tea, has led entrepreneurs to seek out the ancient crop cultivated in remote Yunnan. Li-Yan, the intelligent but rash daughter of a village midwife, serves as the link between one such entrepreneur and her people, transforming their way of life. Against tradition, she later bears a daughter out of wedlock and gives up the child for adoption at her mother's urging. Banished and broken, Li-Yan tries to navigate modern Chinese life while her daughter is raised by loving Caucasian parents in an upper middle-class California home. Neither time nor distance can vanquish their yearning to be reunited. VERDICT 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. Fans of See's Snow Flower and the Secret Fan will appreciate this novel. [See Prepub Alert, 9/26/16.]-Suzanne Im, Los Angeles P.L.

Kirkus Reviews

A woman from the Akha tribe of China's Yunnan province becomes a tea entrepreneur as her daughter grows up in California. See explores another facet of Chinese culture, one that readers may find obscure but intriguing. Li-Yan, the only daughter of a tea-growing family, is a child of the Akha "ethnic minority," as groups in China who are not of the Han majority are known. The Akha are governed by their beliefs in spirits, cleansing rituals, taboos, and the dictates of village shamans. As a teenager, circa 1988, Li-Yan witnesses the death of newborn twins, killed by their father as custom requires, because the Akha consider twin-ship a birth defect: such infants are branded "human rejects." The Akha, inhabiting rugged, inaccessible terrain, have avoided the full brunt of China's experiments in social engineering, including the Great Leap Forward and its resultant famine, the Cultural Revolution, and the One Child policy. Li-Yan's family harvests mostly from wild tea trees as opposed to terraced bushes, and their product is discovered by a connoisseur, Huang, who will alter Li-Yan's destiny. The Akha encourage youthful sexual experimentation, but progeny outside marriage are automatically "rejects." So when Li-Yan discovers she is pregnant by her absent fiancé, San-pa, she hides, with her mother's help, in the secret grove of ancient tea trees which is her birthright. After the infant is born, Li-Yan journeys on foot to a town where she gives up her child. Over the next 20 years, we follow Li-Yan as she marries and is widowed, escapes her village, becomes a tea seller, and marries a wealthy recycling mogul, Jin. The couple moves to Pasadena. Intermittent dispatches inform readers that, unbeknownst to Li-Yan, her daughter, named Haley by her adoptive parents, is also in Pasadena. Haley's challenges as a privileged American daughter pale in contrast to Li-Yan's far more elemental concerns. Although representing exhaustive research on See's part, and certainly engrossing, the extensive elucidation of international adoption, tea arcana, and Akha lore threatens to overwhelm the human drama. Still, a riveting exercise in fictional anthropology. (Reviewed on Dec. 26, 2016)

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