Growing up I read a LOT of Christian fiction. All through high school and college I devoured the genre. However, it was sort of a guilty pleasure. You see, I knew that much of what I was reading was rather formulaic and cheesy. The writing tended to be sub par, the romances unrealistic, and the characters often flat. So they were books that I read rather sheepishly.
Once I became Eastern Orthodox I abandoned the genre altogether. I found that most of the theology didn’t line up with mine, and I felt that I had moved on or “matured.”
Then I found Summer Kinard’s blog Writing Like a Mother. I was drawn to her smart, humorous, raw writing. When I discovered that she wrote Christian fiction, I knew that I had to check it out. I couldn’t imagine being disappointed by anything that she wrote.
Tea and Crumples vastly exceeded my expectations.
Tea and Crumples tells the story of Sienna, a young woman opening a tea shop. Sienna uses her spiritual gifts of hospitality and love to create a warm community in her shop. Customers become regulars who know and care about each other and about the staff, giving Sienna the support she needs when her life changes dramatically.
Sienna is still mourning the loss of her daughter at nineteen weeks gestation when another tragedy strikes. She relies on her community and her faith, as well as the God-given grace of calming daily rituals embodied in the tea she brews.
Sienna’s character completely drew me in. Her struggle to comprehend, mourn, and live life after a miscarriage was very believable and heart-wrenching. I found myself crying at various points in her journey and longing to give her a hug. I also found her struggle with temptation to be quite realistic. She seemed to be the kind of person I would want to have as a friend, to sit down with and discuss life over a cup of (what else?) tea.
The World of Tea
I was fascinated by Kinard’s presentation of tea as nearly another character in the book. I had no idea that so many varieties of tea existed, each with their own brewing requirements and accompanying flavors. I was actually inspired to go out and buy a small teapot of my own! I also loved how the ritual of tea provided Sienna with an anchor point in the midst of chaos.
Summer Kinard is an Orthodox Christian, and her writing reflects that background. However, Kinard has also been part of the Episcopalian Church and is familiar with other forms of Christianity. Many, but not all, of the characters in Tea and Crumples are Orthodox, and Sienna herself is on a path to the Orthodox Church. In one scene she finds herself at an Orthodox liturgy at a critical point in her spiritual journey. Various points of Orthodox theology, such as the idea that babies lost are alive with God and that God is still working miracles for his people, play a part in the story.
I wholeheartedly recommend Tea and Crumples to teens and adults. If you are a Christian, and particularly if you are an Orthodox Christian:
-this book would make an excellent addition to your personal library
–Tea and Crumples would fit perfectly into any church library or bookstore
-a fantastic gift for your mother, daughter, or goddaughter this Christmas
–Tea and Crumples would make a beautiful book club book for a women’s group at church. How fun would it be to read it and then discuss with a tea party!
If you are not Orthodox, I still recommend the book. Any Christian who enjoys well-written stories about faith, friendship, hardship, and miracles will be drawn into the community created at the tea shop. I am eagerly anticipating the next book in the series and am excited to read more by Summer Kinard. I am so glad that I have found Christian fiction I am proud to have read.
What are some of your favorite books of faith?
(This post contains affiliate links. I received a free copy of the book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are 100% my own.)
(Linked to Quick Lit.)