Title: The Teashop Girls
Author: Laura Schaefer
Coming out on December 31, 2008 from Simon and Schuster
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Recommended to: Girls, 11 and up
Meet Annie, Genna, and Zoe--also known as "The Teashop Girls". They've been BFFs forever, and their favorite hangout is Annie's grandmother's quaint tea shop, The Steeping Leaf, where tea is held weekly, and where the girls basically grew up. But this year is different-the trio are about to graduate eighth grade, and each is busy with their own schedules and activities, leaving Annie feeling a bit left behind. But when Annie scores a job as a barista for the Leaf, she learns shocking news: her beloved shop may be closing, due to eviction notices! Now, Annie needs her fellow Teashop Girls more than ever to save the Leaf...with a cute barista boy crush and an annoying classmate getting in the way, can they do it in time?
To put it simply, I loved The Teashop Girls. The plot was smooth, quick, easy, and sweet as honey, and while I was reading, I felt warm and fuzzy, like I was drinking a steaming cup of chamomile. I appreciated how special and affectionate Ms. Schaefer made her story--unlike some books nowadays, the plot was about the importance of friends, family and community; age-appropriate, and not constantly dropping brand names. All the characters were delightfully unique--from the lovable Louisa to Annie's two messy, annoying little brothers to the other two Teashop Girls, all with their own little quirks (I also liked how Ms. Schaefer incorporated the character's personalities into their favorite kind of tea--very clever). I felt loving towards the Leaf myself, and Sujean Rim's beautiful illustrations really brought the shop to life. I also loved all the tea facts, quotes, drawings, lists, and recipes Ms. Schaefer included in her novel--they added life, color, and creativity. My one problem was that I just didn't get what Annie saw in her barista boy crush, aka Jonathan. I found him dull and self-centered from the very beginning. Ergh.
With a very satisfying ending, The Teashop Girls is a genuine story that I found myself loving from the beginning to the end. I certainly hope there'll be many more sequels in the future--Ms. Schaefer has a lot of potential and an original, great first novel to start from.