Showing posts with label culture. Show all posts
Showing posts with label culture. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane - A Review

If you have been reading our reviews, you know that January is Tea Month!  It is also part of the Chinese New Year celebrations that will be happening all around the world on the 25th of  January.

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane Book Review

It's also time to share a new book that I truly enjoyed.  The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane caught my eye on two counts.  One, I love birds, so was interested in the address and the second was the ambiguity of the title.  Who goes around being known as the "Tea Girl" and why?


The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane Book Review


Lisa See, the author has extensive knowledge of what is happening in the areas where China has taken over the lands that once belonged to some really isolated tribes.  Such are the Akha, that  lived in the high mountainous regions of Laos, Myannmar, Thailand and Yunnan province in China. 

                                                           Map courtesy of Google Maps

As with many indigenous tribes, they are unaware of the political struggles or the ramifications of being overtaken by another government.   They farm and cultivate their land for their own use. Daily life is difficult enough without worrying about politics.  Rice, tea and poppies are their main crops.  Opium, derived from their crops is sold to the outside world for medicines.  They themselves have used opium for medicines for centuries.  Tea is the other common denominator.  They grow tea and cultivate the leaves of trees that are hundreds of years old.  This tea is sought after by tea aficionados from around the world.

They are a land of people who have stayed together and lived according to the laws and customs of their "tribe".  They have their own language, yet they are encouraged to learn Mandarin and leave their language behind. Education is minimal unless they show a talent for learning.  Then maybe they have a chance at a better life.  The question is, "Who's ideas of a better life will they follow?" 

Each child can confirm their lineage for 7 generations.  This is one of the most important things they know for sure.  Girls and boys can recite their lineage and will do so when they find a mate.  The elders of the community will give their permission to marry, based on that lineage!  There will be no marriages allowed that are too close in family ties.

Image from Wikipedia 


This story and it's people grabbed my attention and held it right to the very end.  I was fascinated by their customs and horrified by some of their practices too.  What really caught my interest though was how the people, because of their beliefs did things that we would consider so unacceptable.  The Akha, like many of the Asian peoples, have a profound wish that their first child be male. Because of China's one child law,  many girls are given up for adoption.   

Over the years, these girls have been adopted into American, Canadian and European households.  The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane finds herself caught up in a cultural tug of war.  Her adopted parents are caught up in it as well.  She does not look like them, She will never look like them!  Yet, her parents love her as if she were born to them like any other child.  

Her adoptive parents go through all the trials and tribulations involved when you have a child that is "different".  As many parents are aware, whenever something is NOT just so,  many questions are asked and need answers.  Yes, their child is adopted.  No, they don't know anything about why she was given up for adoption.  No, they are her parents and they love her unconditionally.  Yes, she asks questions all the time.  No we don't have the answers to all her questions.

What makes this story interesting is that bond between the birth mother and the daughter that she no longer knows.  I don't want to give anything away from this story, I want you to go and pick up the book and read it for yourself.  


My Conclusion & Final Thoughts


I learned so much about the Akha people and I also learned a lot about myself.  It was easy to put myself into the characters of this book.  What would I do?  How would I react?  How would I feel about being given away?  Where do my loyalties lie?  These are all questions you will find yourself asking as you are reading this book.

There are no right or wrong answers.  For the Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, there are lots of different answers and many roads that could be taken.  See how she deals with the way,  and the road,  her life has taken.  I promise, you will learn something about yourself in the pages of this book.







Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


FOLLOW US ON:

Sunday, May 5, 2019

The Home for Unwanted Girls Book Review

Joanna Goodman's The Home for Unwanted Girls is a fictionalized account of a true story. Set in 1950s French Canada, it tells the tale of a young woman who is forced by her family to give up her daughter for adoption and in lesser part, the tale of the daughter in the Canadian system. It also shares the history of the times in Quebec including the divide between the French and the English.

Most of us are aware of the situation a girl of the age of 15 would have been in in 1950s society if she found herself pregnant. I believe, however, that most of us are unaware of what happened to the large number of the children who were given up for adoption in Quebec at that time but who were never actually adopted.

Those 'unwanted' children were placed in orphanages where they were misused as servants and abused by nuns and staff. Later, when those orphanages became psychiatric hospitals, the children were simply reclassified as mentally ill and assimilated into that population where they continued to be used as servants and abused but were also treated as mentally ill.

As someone who did not know of this story before she picked up the book, I found it simply unbelievable that this was allowed. They were children and while naive to the ways of normal living because of living in orphanages, they were not mentally ill.

How could a switch from orphanage to mental asylum even be allowed? Well, it turns out that it happened because patients in mental asylums received more funding than children in orphanages. The province of Quebec received $1.25 per orphan or $2.75 per psychiatric patient so orphanages became hospitals. Of course, it was only later that the physical, psychological and sexual abuse was discovered. The author, in her interview with the Toronto Star, says that restitution has been offered by the government to the victims but no formal apology has been made by the church.

The author also shares that this book was drawn from her own mother's life in the 1950s. That is, of a French-Canadian woman married to an English seed merchant. However, the author struggled with how to present the story until she read a French memoir written by a survivor that shared one woman's thoughts as she actually lived through the situation.

This book reveals a very sad time in Quebec history. It delves into the issues of language, class and religion. It is also a story of family and of romantic love. Yes, there is a lot of heartache but the book is well written and comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me if you enjoy historical fiction and want an eye opening look at a little known piece of Canadian history. Be warned that the subject matter it is disturbing and it did happen. However, I raced through The Home for Unwanted Girls needing to know what happened next. What the outcome would be was never far from my mind.

You can buy your copy from Amazon by clicking right here. If you do read this book, be sure to come back and let us know what you think.

See you at
the book store!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy your copy of The Home for Unwanted Girls on Amazon.
Secret Child Book Review: 1950s Ireland.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Series Review: 1950s New York City.
The Remains of the Day Book Review: 1950s England.





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


FOLLOW US ON:


The Review This Contributors

Cynthia SylvestermouseCynthia SylvestermouseDawn Rae BDawn Rae BMary Beth - mbgphotoMary Beth - mbgphotoBrite-IdeasBrite-IdeasBev OwensBev OwensWednesday ElfWednesday ElfBarbRadBarbRadOlivia MorrisOlivia MorrisRenaissanceWoman2010Renaissance
Woman2010
Lou16Lou16The Savvy AgeThe Savvy AgeTreasures by BrendaTreasures by BrendaMargaret SchindelMargaret SchindelBuckHawkBuckHawkDecoratingforEventsDecorating
forEvents
Heather426Heather426Coletta TeskeColetta TeskeMissMerFaeryMissMerFaeryMickie_GMickie_G

 

Review This is Dedicated to the Memory of Our Beloved Friend and Fellow Contributor
We may be apart, but You Are Not Forgotten

Susan DeppnerSusan Deppner

“As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from purchases.” Disclosure Statement

X