With a through line about pu’er—a variety of tea plucked from ancient tea trees, Li-yan is the first Akha girl from her Chinese hill tribe to be educated. Instead of furthering her studies, she drops everything for her childhood sweetheart whom her parents disapprove of. Together they unsuccessfully seek the child Li-yan was forced to abandoned in an orphanage during his absence before they leave for Thailand. While she is away, her poor village prospers from the sudden popularity of pu’er while Li-yan becomes destitute from her opium addicted husband. She has not forgotten the daughter she was forced to abandoned, but soon her life begins to change.
I’ve read all Lisa See’s books and there isn’t one I wouldn’t give a five out of five.
Although Maggie’s mother is French Canadian, Maggie is sent to an English school by her English father. But in spite of her predominantly English up bringing, she falls in love with a poor French boy, Gabriel. At fifteen she discovers she’s pregnant. Pressured by 1950s Quebec’s stance on unwedded mothers and her beloved father’s threat of abandoning her if she keeps the child and has any more to do with Gabriel, Maggie’s child, Elodie is taken from her.
Goodman presents the English/French mistrust in Quebec to perfection and while at times the story is predictable, the experiences of little Elodie’s time in two institutions reflects the horror orphans of that era went through. A compelling read.
While Natalia works in a Balkan orphanage, her mind is drawn back to the recent death of her beloved grandfather. She cannot understand why he set off for an unknown place when, as a doctor also, he must have known he would die. Natalia reflects over the stories her grandfather told her as a child until she discovers a connection that leads her to a greater understanding of him.