cover image The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

Lisa See, read by Ruthie Ann Miles and a full cast. S&S Audio, unabridged, 12 CDs, 14 hrs., $39.99 ISBN 978-1-5082-2653-6

Miles reads most of the novel in the role of Li-yan, a girl of the Akha, one of China’s 55 ethnic minority groups. She works well as a breathy 10-year-old, but doesn’t seem to mature much in voice or tone as listeners follow Li-yan through her painful teen and beyond as she becomes an accomplished adult. The novel provides excellent detail about the Akhas’ eked-out life in their mountain home, tea culture, gender roles, and folk beliefs in the pre- and post–Deng Xiaoping eras. It then contrasts all this sharply with the life of Li-yan’s abandoned daughter, Haley, and other adopted Chinese girls spoiled by American parents. Several other actors—Alexandra Allwine, Jeremy Bobb, Kimiko Glenn, Joy Osmanski, Emily Walton, Erin Wilhelmi, and Gabra Zackman—lend their voices for these secondary characters. Their performances are all strong, and the variety helps listens stay attuned through a long story. [em]A Scribner hardcover. (Mar.) [/em]