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The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

Written by: Lisa See
Narrated by: Ruthie Ann Miles,Kimiko Glenn,Alex Allwine,Gabra Zackman,Jeremy Bobb,Joy Osmanski,Emily Walton,Erin Wilhelmi
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Publisher's Summary

2018 Audie Award Finalist for Fiction and Multi-Voiced Performance

The thrilling new novel from number-one New York Times best-selling author Lisa See explores the lives of a Chinese mother and her daughter who has been abandoned and 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 audience. 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, The 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. 

©2017 Lisa See (P)2017 Simon & Schuster, Inc.

What the critics say

"Through Ruthie Ann Miles's earnest narration, listeners are quickly drawn into a culturally complex and historically rich story...See's writing is evocative, with vivid imagery and a strong sense of place, and the cast serves to enhance her storytelling through spirited characterizations and a keen understanding of each person's relation to the overall work. Ideal for fans of historical fiction, coming-of-age tales, and tea." ( AudioFile)

What listeners say about The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

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Good story but a bit slow moving.

The story was fascinating to begin with and I learned a lot about the Chinese minority group. I found it dragged after a while and the ending was somewhat predictable. I didn’t like the various voices in the narration and would have preferred one narrator.

1 person found this helpful

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Great book!

This is a wonderful story. Very captivating. I Love all the books by Lisa See.

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Wonderful story

This is the first book I have read by Lisa See. I can’t wait for read the next.

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Poetic, educational and hopeful

I listened to this with my 99 year old mom, across 3,000 miles via zoom. We both loved it and are now looking for pu’er tea!

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Thoroughly enjoyed!

I lovely layered story, with good narration. I finished the last chapter with a deeper understanding and appreciation for tea and its ancient history. Having been with the hilltribes of Thailand in the early 1990’s this story stirred memories and made my heart ache in a good way.

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Hidden Gem

This is a wonderful historical novel. Absolutely loved the story and the narrators. Would definitely listen to this book again.

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I loved this story!

This is such an incredibly beautifully written story. I loved everything about it and didn’t want it to end. It was enchanting, mesmerizing and exquisitely beautiful. I cannot wait to listen to more books by Lisa See.

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Beautiful and moving story

Loved the cultural and emotional depth of the story and character development, and detailed imagery.

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Will purchase another Lisa See book

I really enjoyed this book, it came highly recommended by my sister and mother. I think it was very well written and I enjoyed the narration. looking forward to trying another Lisa See book.

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I loved this book!!

What a wonderful story, the pace was good and had a bit of everything in the storyline. Usually I would be hesitant to have so many narrators but it really worked perfectly in this book - everyone was outstanding. This is definitely a book club book.

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  • ROBIN
  • 2017-04-10

***EXCELLENT*** Six stars if I could !!

This book is far from what normally listen to, and in the beginning (based on some disturbing facts) I wasn't sure I could listen. But I was instantly hooked on the story, and especially the characters. The narration was perfect, and I can't remember ever feeling such a sense of loss when a book ended, just because I didn't (don't) want the story to end. I HIGHLY recommend this one.

62 people found this helpful

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  • Mary Smiroldo
  • 2017-05-06

Good overall, however!

I enjoyed this story, having lived in Shanghai for more than a year. The tea ceremonies were authentic, and I learned things about the tea industry that I was unaware of. My only problem, and it was a big one for me, was the voice of the young girl. We are introduced to Haley really at birth. Her speaking parts begin as a young child. Even at eight years old, she was sounding more like a five year old! Also, anyone who has spent time with young children realizes that their thought processes are rarely, if ever, as sophisticated as Haley's. I am specifically referring to the therapy session when it appears she more the "therapist" than the therapist!! What really became annoying to me was that she maintained this five year old voice throughout the remainder of the book, going into her mid twenties! My husband came in while I was listening to one of her dialogues and asked if she was a two year old!! By the end of the book, I was more than ready for it to be over. This was very unfortunate since I am a big Lisa See fan, and have always enjoyed her other narrators. Usually there is a perfect Chinese speaker who carries off the story beautifully. Not this time.

59 people found this helpful

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  • Ann M Welker
  • 2017-04-04

A beautiful story

Lisa See is such an amazing writer. She has a gift for taking her reader into the lives, minds and hearts of her characters. I thoroughly enjoyed this story, even doing some research into the Ahka people, pu-erh tea and tea cakes. I loved the main character and how her culture influenced her life even when she lived in the modern world. The ending was beautiful. I would highly recommend this book.

40 people found this helpful

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  • Michal A. Joyner
  • 2017-04-08

Loved it!

Would you listen to The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane again? Why?

I would! There is so much content in the book that I'm quite sure I missed some finer points.

What did you like best about this story?

I loved the history of tea. My only wish was that Lisa should have made actual "tea" recommendations to accompany each section in the book. It would have been so amazing to be drinking a tea while reading different sections of the book.

Which scene was your favorite?

Too many to mention.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

The real history of tea!

Any additional comments?

This book lived up to my expectations. It is beautifully written, and I really cared for the characters. I was sad when I was done.

36 people found this helpful

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  • GM
  • 2017-04-13

Informative, Interesting, Intriguing

I learned a lot about the history of tea and the customs of this remote village. I was surprised that some of the customs were being practiced as recently as they were. I loved the story and the main character, Li-Yan. She was intelligent, dutifully paid for the mistakes she made. She persevered, remained true to her heritage. Loved the ending. Satisfying and not drawn out.

28 people found this helpful

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  • Lillian Rodriguez
  • 2017-04-02

loved it!

excellent story and narration of 2 young woman's lives, the best narration I've heard yet, makes story easy to follow, wonderful characters

26 people found this helpful

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  • Summer Layne
  • 2017-09-04

Literary Dregs

If I hadn't run out credits, I would never have completed this book. A mishmash of storylines ... unrelated subjects just sort of tossed in - as padding? And ohhhhh, the subject of tea. Tea - tea - tea.

Making it even more irritating was the voice of daughter. The narrator sounded like she was taking hits on a helium balloon.

Seriously, Lisa See poured out the dregs of her abilities into a misleading title, and everyone's pretending it's delish. No. It isn't.


21 people found this helpful

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  • g
  • 2017-04-22

Great Beginning, Tepid Ending

Lisa See stories, while entertaining, always educates and inspires me to learn more the culture and subject that she writes about. I have enjoyed at least five of her books, but this one fell a little short in one aspect and that is the abrupt and somewhat contrived ending. For such a well woven and intriguing beginning and development, the interaction of the characters and the plot in the last third of the novel were executed dispassionately, like a outline of story she would have liked to present, but she ran out of time or interest. The narrator for the primary character, Li-yan was excellent but I found the narration for her daughter, Haley was a bit to overly juvenile once Haley became an adult. Although I made these criticism, I still found this story well worth the credit because of this unique subject and insights to a segment of Chinese cultural society that most of us are unfamiliar with. Lisa See never fails to entertain, inspire and reveal a little more of the world to us with her novels. I anxious await her next book.

21 people found this helpful

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  • NB
  • 2017-04-07

Best story this year

Enchanting and mesmerizing the story of a tribe connected to their land and harvesting tea and a baby given up for adoption. A baby growing up in America always searching for her biological mother grows to become interested in tea and the enfolding conclusion is both gratifying and complete.

16 people found this helpful

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  • Lannette
  • 2017-03-28

Good all around read

Very much liked the story and narrator. Nice easy listen. Going now to purchase more from this author.

13 people found this helpful

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  • Client Kindle
  • 2022-01-06

fantastic

As a tea lover I was intrigued by the title and had no idea what to expect since it was my first book from Lisa See. And it is an understatement if I say that I was happily surprised. I loved everything about it. We learn a lot about chinese minorities of which I did not know much, as well as about pu'erh. The author did a lot of research to make sure the information about tea is accurate and that is very impressive. the story is great too and makes you feel a lot of things, from sorrow to joy. I recommend it wholeheartedly, as I think I can place it as my favorite book ever.