Scribner | March 2017 | 384 pgs
Source: Library

"... Man becomes wiser and more mature through life experience. The same can be said of tea." ~ Pg 173

I knew I wouldn't pass up a book with that title; and all the more knowing that it is a work by acclaimed author Lisa See. In this story, Lisa takes readers on a journey to a remote village at Nannuo mountain in Yunnan and the introduction of the Akha people (Akha is one of the few ethnic minorities in China). Filled with rich culture and traditions of the Akha, this story also includes some snippets about tea farming/picking and this little information delights the tea lover in me.

The book opens with our young Li-yan sharing her dreams with her family. Being the only girl and the youngest in the family, she often receives the least attention but that doesn't mean she couldn't dream of the world outside Spring Well village, where her home is. Teacher Zhang, one of the Han majority people who is exiled from the city capital to live in their remote village after a revolution sees the potential in Li-yan and offers to teach her more of what they are learning and although Li-yan's parents forbid it in the beginning, they give in with the thoughts that she would represent the village and be the leader amongst the women in the near future. And then comes a day when a stranger steps into their village in seek of a special tea that would change not only Li-yan's views in general but her life, too.

As the story progresses, we also see a grown up version of Li-yan; this is the part where she has lost her loved one and her baby daughter through many heartbreaks and sufferings. This is another scene which made me ache for her loss, apart from another concerning the babies and the Akha tradition but I'm not going to go into that; it was all too heartbreaking. What Li-yan had gone through also played a part in her to venture a journey out of her home into the big modern world, hoping to find her birth daughter due to an unforeseeable situation and to earn some money of her own. It is also at this point when she finds love again when she least expected it.

Filled with Akha culture and with a setting from Yunnan to Kunming and Guangzhou, Lisa See has spun a bittersweet and an unforgettable story about the relationship between mothers and daughters, the agriculture of tea (in particularly pu'er tea) and the art of tea drinking as well as loss and finding hope, and last but not least, finding one's roots. I found myself invested in the characters Lisa created through her beautiful writing style and the sensitiveness of some issues which either made me think or feel. There are so much more I wanted to say about this book and I guess my 5-star rating is suffice to say how much I loved this book. 

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8 Responses
  1. jenclair Says:

    I've heard good things about this one! It does have a beautiful title and cover, so I'm glad the the content lived up to them. :)

  2. Lark Says:

    She's a really good writer, but sometimes her books are just so sad. Is this one?

  3. Melody Says:

    Jenclair - I haven't read all the books by Lisa, but this is the best I've read so far!

  4. Melody Says:

    Lark - Yes, Lisa is a good writer. This one sure has that sad element but let's say the ending brought a lot of warmth to my heart. I hope you'll read it! :)

  5. The Bookworm Says:

    This sounds so good and I like this author too. Great post.

  6. Iliana Says:

    Is this book a sequel to any of her other books? I think she does have some books that are linked right? I have read several of her novels and have found them so good. I'm looking forward to this one.

  7. Melody Says:

    Naida - Thanks, Naida! :)

    Iliana - No, this is totally a standalone. I haven't read all of her books but this one was the best I'd read thus far.

  8. Marce Says:

    This one sounds like what my book club would love. I will keep it mind for them.

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