The Tea House is an intriguing tale of coming of age in the early 20th century. It is a tender-hearted novel rich with historical detail and suspense that reaches into the heart of family.
Emily and Michael are seemingly normal thirteen year olds. Though their father died in the war and their mother is constantly depressed, the twins find ways to keep themselves amused. When Emily learns she can make a loud, unusual noise from her ankle without moving it, she decides to play a prank on her brother. She makes him think he is seeing and hearing a ghost. This leads to their brilliant idea of ghost-knocking sessions.
Does Emily really talk to dead people or is this all a hoax? What began as a harmless game begins to shift.
In the process of preparing for her ghost-knocking sessions, Emily begins to wonder about her family history. Snooping around the house and asking the family's friend Mary, questions begins to give Emily a glimpse of the past. Soon after, she resorts to eavesdropping on them. On the flipside, Michael is growing depressed and mean. He begins withdrawing from his family and friends. When one of their friends is killed, everything changes for the twins. Michael withdraws even further, and the ghosts come to plague Emily.
This book started out a little slow, but quickly caught my attention. Beneath the story of the twins lies an amazing story of people. Politics and religion are major sub-plots. I found myself actually concerned about most of the characters. The author did a wonderful job of making the story easy to follow and understand, while at the same time, leaving you with a feast of food for thought.
Several days have passed since I finished this book, and I am still pondering the characters and their personalities, wishing I knew all of their little secrets.