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I wish I could have loved The Teashop Girls as much as I love tea itself
on September 23, 2012
I love the idea of a book centered around a tea shop! The tea quotes and old adverts were included in all or most of the chapters were delightful! And, I love tea :)
But for me this book just fell kinda flat. There were a lot of plots going on ... Perhaps too many... But none felt developed enough, like there wasn't enough prep or resolution, so instead the whole book felt the same chapter after chapter. And by the end I didn't really feel like anything was much different from where it started.
Our protagonist, Annie, is in her last months of middle school and filled with the variety of emotions that coincided. She concerned about, not only what will high school be like, but also that her two best friends and herself seem to be drifting apart. I never felt enough connection to feel the drift, and the drift never felt that big or eventful.
Annie herself felt at once very mature, but then, like, you know, a typical teenager, with, like, annoying vocab. The thing was, this felt throw in, as did Annie's flippancy to her immediate family, and at times her actions, and the actions of her friends, seemed too much out of character (nothing bad, this book is definitely a "G" rating, I think, but it felt like Annie should be more mature than the author usually let her be).
The boys. There's the annoying one that keeps pestering Annie. There's the older boy who is gorgeous but more into Annie's older sister than Annie herself. I really don't know why this was in here. I kept trying to come up with reasons why these characters would be important to the plot, but there was never enough introspection for it to really matter to Annie. I was annoyed by Annie's on again - off again love and annoyance with the older boy. I got the sense, we were supposed to dislike him, but I couldn't tell where he'd done anything really wrong to warrant her dislike (but then the next chapter she'd be in love with him again with no reference to her dislike in the previous chapter...)
The tea shop: The Steeping Leaf is a dear little old shop, a local business that, either because of the owner's lack of business sense, or the chain store around the bend, The Leaf can't quite make ends meet. So, when the owner's granddaughter, Annie, comes to work at the shop and learns of its troubles, she (Annie) is determined to save the shop.
I did love Annie's unyielding determination and ingenuity to try and save the shop, and how her friends were willing to help where they could.
This was the one plot point that seemed fully developed -- but sadly, for me, it fizzled at the end. I honestly don't know what the message was that we were supposed to take away... Because, basically, it seemed like there was nothing in the previous 200 pages of the book that actually effected the end result. And I don't know what the characters were supposed to have learned, or how they'd grown. Plus, there's a lot of 'buy local' messages (which is fine, but not always the solution) and the crack about wholesellers seemed unwarranted. After all, the Steeping Leaf isn't the only company that has to make a profit to survive.
Overall I wanted so much more from this book - it sounded like a wonderful, nice, sweet, savvy book for tweens, but in the end there just wasn't enough to it to make it a quick or enrapturing read.