My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I have become such a fan of Lisa See‘s writing that I don’t hesitate to pick up her books as soon as they’re released. This book was no exception, and I’ve enjoyed every word of it.
Li-yan is an Akhu (Chinese ethnic minority) living in a small, impoverished mountain village. Her sole inheritance is a well-hidden tea tree, and she doesn’t think much of it. She would rather have silver, and a fine home.
Li-yan falls in love with San-pa, whom her family thinks is an inappropriate match — and then Li-yan becomes pregnant. She doesn’t tell San-pa, who has gone to Thailand for work while she plans to take the secondary school exam to improve their future.
Li-yan leaves her daughter at an orphanage in a town to which she walks over the course of three days, but she never stops thinking of her. And it is through the eyes of Haley (who is adopted by an American Family) and Li-yan that we see the rest of the story.
Touching not only on tea lore and science, but on the roles of women, the results of China’s One Child policy, and the outcomes of Communist rule, See brings us into a world that will both shock and inform the reader. The characters are well-developed, fully human, and interesting. I delighted in every page of this book and recommend it highly.