Chinaberry is about the epic journey of an unnamed boy of 13, who often seems much younger. He leaves Alabama with family friends for a summer of picking cotton in Texas. During the next three months, his life is transformed.
"I think it's a love story on so many levels," House said. "It's a love story between the author and childhood, between a person and a place. I think there's a palpable love for Texas in the book, and for a way of life that's gone forever."
At the heart of the story is the relationship that develops between the boy and the Chinaberry ranch's owner, Anson Winters, and his second wife, Lurie. Anson virtually adopts the boy, treating him as a replacement for the young, handicapped son whose death he still grieves.
"What's so brilliant about the book is that (Still) doesn't make any judgments; it's a psychological thriller in a way," said House, who found some scenes almost creepy.