Love & Gelato
Published by Simon Pulse
Publication Date May 3, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Clean Romance
Setting: Italy Contemporary
Main Character Ages: 15-18
Written for: High-School/Young Adult
Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, but she isn’t in the mood for Italy’s famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape. She’s only there because it was her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn’t around for sixteen years? All Lina wants to do is get back home.
But then Lina is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy. Suddenly Lina’s uncovering a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries. A world that inspires Lina, along with the ever-so-charming Ren, to follow in her mother’s footsteps and unearth a secret that has been kept for far too long. It’s a secret that will change everything Lina knew about her mother, her father—and even herself.
People come to Italy for love and gelato, someone tells her, but sometimes they discover much more.
I received a complimentary copy of this book. This gift did not influence my opinion or review.
I’m always on the lookout for new-to-me authors and especially new-to-me young adult authors. When I first saw Love & Olives by Jenna Evans Welch (releasing November 2020), I was intrigued. So I hurried to my library website to see if any of her other books were available. They were. And that was my induction into the world of one of my now-favorite young adult writers.
There are so many things to love about Love & Gelato! First off, the writing style was great. It was heartfelt and yet not angsty (no matter how many times Lena wept!) I appreciated that it was told from a single point of view. Yes, it would have completely spoiled things if it was done differently. The descriptions of the places Lena saw were so beautiful. Along with mentioning famous landmarks, the stories and legends associated with them were shared in a natural manner that assimilated them very well.
The plot was perhaps not the most original. Girl’s mom dies and Girl moves to another country and discovers her mom had been keeping secrets from her. But, oh, the story using this plot! And some of the quirky things that were included. Not the least of which was the house Lena moved into in Italy in the middle of an American memorial cemetery. Which, it ends up, is based on a real girl the author had met who lives in that very place! The unusual houses were also a lot of fun. Each one described was so unexpected and so different from the others.
Soon after Lena arrived in Italy, she was presented with the journal her mother kept while living there herself. It was probably one of the most fascinating journals I’ve seen included in a story like this. You’ll love reading Hailey’s account of her year there.
It’s easy to continue to gush about the things I loved but I think you get the picture. I’m really looking forward to reading more in the Love & series.
Parents, if you prefer to not have your kids reading stories with underage drinking, be aware that there is some of that here. Though in Italy, there is no such thing. It is neither glorified nor condemned, other than a mention of how stupid one of the characters gets when he is drunk. There was also a hint of one of the characters being found with grass in his hair which he attributed to rolling in the grass. At which his friends teased about him not rolling around alone. And the final caution is from when they were in a club and the dancing by secondary characters was described (briefly) for its sensuous nature.