Li-yan often helps her mother, the village midwife. As tradition dictates, she will fill the role someday. High in the mountains of Yunnan, the Akha, an ethnic minority, seem to be living in an earlier century, not in 1988. Their lives revolve around tea. Planting, growing, picking, selling, tea is their life. And tradition is very important in their life. But some traditions seem cruel to Li-yan, especially those designed to keep them pure. The traditions that require ‘human rejects’ to be killed at birth. Children that are different: twins, club foot, cleft palate, too many fingers or toes, children too small to survive, children born out of wedlock. All must be killed at birth. When Li-yan finds herself pregnant, with her lover far away and unable to wed, she decides her baby cannot die. The baby girl is bundled into a blanket with a tea cake and left at an orphanage. Constance and Dan Davis are thrilled to adopt the tiny, sick baby from the orphanage in China, even though her first year was filled with hospital stays. As Haley grew up, they made sure she knew about her Chinese heritage. And as Haley grew up, she wanted to find her Chinese mother, she needed to search for her.
This amazing book weaves three story lines: the longing for a lost daughter, the struggles of a teen trying to find her identity, and the growing, buying and selling of rare and expensive tea. Each of these stories alone would have made an interesting book. Together they make a powerful novel that will stay with me for a long time. Highly recommend. Author interview link
eGalley review Publication date 3.21.17