The Tea Rose - Jennifer Donnelly This one earned 4 ½ stars from me. The Tea Rose is a classical rags to riches story following the harrowing struggles of Fiona Finnegan as she tries to make it in the world. If you thought you had a bad life, you should try stepping into Fiona’s shoes for awhile. Donnelly pulled out all the stops in the drama department producing a very well written and engaging story. Admittedly, sometimes the beginning of the book became too heavy for me to read with so much loss and devestation, but once I got passed that it was smooth sailing.

What I think Donnelly does well is write coming of age stories with strong, intelligent and independent young women. There is something about these women getting their justice that is very appealing and you just can’t help but root for them. Donnelly also writes very good characters. In this one her characters are bit too perfect for my taste. Fiona did not seem to have any flaws, but to me this was okay because with everything that she went through I couldn’t help but love her. Joe, however, as man tripping over his own ambition was very flawed and I hated him for those flaws. So much so that I wanted to strangle him sometimes. In the end he grew on me, but I sure didn’t forget what he did.

The secondary characters also deserve to be mentioned. I, in particular, loved Nicholas Soames. He was a breathe of fresh air is this drama ridden story. He has his own demons to contend with and his story is just as hard as Fiona’s, but like Fiona Nicholas grabs the bull by the horns and rides it in style. His part added the right touch of humor needed. I also loved Fiona’s New York family. Her uncle and neighbors also added some humor and support.

The only reason I knocked down the rating by ½ a star was because the story was a little too drama filled for me. The beginning was serious drama, the middle was uplifting and then again drama towards the end. It was too much and as a reader I had to suspend belief that this could actually happen all to one person. I’m okay with suspending that belief because the story was really good and I even learned much about the tea business in the process. I look forward to reading The Winter Rose.