Here’s a video of author Lisa See talking about her latest book The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane.
1.The book starts off in 1988 with First Brother’s recounting his dream and A-ma saying “No coincidence, no story”. What are the main coincidences in The Tea Girl of Humming Bird Lane? Were these coincidences believable? How did these events shape your expectations of the story?
2. Akha culture is steeped in tradition. Were there any practices described in the book that shocked or surprised you? Did it change the way you felt about the book? What traditions did you like and dislike?
3. One tradition of the Akha is the harsh treatment of twins at birth. Could you understand this practice? How does Li-yan firsthand experience with this Akha Law shape her future? Was this pivotal in changing her story?
4. Li-yan was born on Pig Day and San-pa was born on Tiger Day. Their families are against their union because tigers like to eat pigs. Do Akha traditions and the village’s attitude to their union correctly predict their future? Discuss their marriage. How do you feel about their marriage, was it doomed from the start?
5. Li-yan’s marriage to San-pa and then to Jin was very different. Discuss the differences between the two marriages. How do the men differ? What did Li-yan learn from her first marriage?
6. There are several themes in this book such as mother-daughter relationship, identity, traditions, family to name a few. Which theme impacted you the most?
7. Discuss the impact of education on Li-yan and the Akha. How has it helped them? What was the significance Teacher Zhang’s role in educating Li-yan?
8. The backdrop of the book centers on Pu’er tea. Did the book inspire you to find out more about Pu’er tea? How has globalization helped spread the knowledge of tea and the tea making process? Is Li-yan story and her business a reflection of global reach?
9. What does the Mother tea tree represent to A-ma and to Li-yan? How does Li-yan feelings towards the Mother tea tree and her inheritance as the story progress?
10. A prominent theme was identity. Discuss how Li-yan identity changes throughout the book. How does being an Akha ethnic minority and moving to another place affect Li-yan? Haley is also searching for her identity. Discuss how the questions of identity and belonging affect Haley.
11. The book begins with part 1, The Akha way, 1988-1990. Were you surprised that the Akha minority were so isolated that they never saw a car before?
12. A-ma, Li-yan, and other supporting female roles in the Akha village have traditional roles. To what extent do you feel that they hampered by their roles? Describe how they are also empowered?
13. The mother-daughter relationships in the book are prominent in the book. Compare A-ma and Li-yan relationship and Li-yan and Haley’s relationship. How does distance alter their relationship? Discuss Haley’s and Constance’s relationship.
14. How did you feel about the way See’s structure of the book help to engage you and your reading enjoyment?
15. Did you enjoy the ending? Was the author successful in tying the loose ends? What did you imagine would follow after Li-yan and Haley’s encounter? What conversations would they have?
16. Did you enjoy the historical fiction book? Who would you recommend it to?
Enhance Your Book Club:
Have a book club tea party with Yunan Pu’er tea.
Learn more about the history of Pu’er tea.
Learn about China, its people and geography and more.
More conversation starters on The Tea girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See.