This is the first book that I felt like I’ve “been there, done that,” but in a really great way. The majority of the books I read, even if they are contemporary and the setting is a real place, it’s not a real place I have visited and done exactly what the author is describing, but Love & Gelato was different. My husband and I took a trip to Italy for our three year wedding anniversary. I have climbed the 463 steps to the top of the Duomo. I have dozed off on the train from Rome to Florence. I’ve eaten gelato for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I’ve looked out over the Tuscan countryside and though surely this can’t be real. I adored the setting of this book because I’ve been there and done that and loved it!
Title: Love & Gelato
Author: Jenna Evans Welch
Publication: May 3rd 2016 by Simon Pulse
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 390 pages
Format: Library book
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 from Lina for far too long. It’s a secret that will change everything she 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.
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So here’s the alphabetical run down:
I love Lina’s character. She seems like someone I would have been friends with in high school. Despite the situation she’s in (in a foreign country, with no one she knows, just months after her mom’s death), she seems laid back and very go with the flow, which I really appreciated. Her personality balances well with her mother, who we get to know through her journal, and who seems to be more driven by passion and art than her level-headed daughter.
Ren is the guy you want to run into in Italy. The instant best friend who invites you everywhere and drives you around on his shiny red scooter. And also happens to be a super cute soccer player and is immediately really protective of Lina.
Thomas is the guy you never imagined you would actually meet in Italy, or anywhere. British accent, looks like a model and immediately flirts with Lina.
Howard is Lina’s mom Hadley’s lost love. His story and personality slowly build throughout the story, but his love for Lina’s mom is so evident even 16 years later.
This is one of my favorite covers. It is perfect in it’s simplicity. I love everything about it!
There wasn’t a love triangle, but there were some extra crushes that kept things interesting. The whole book, minus the prologue, takes place in less than a week, but the relationship never felt rushed. The physical romance in this book was kept very PG, just a few kisses, but the whole book was really cute without feeling juvinille.
There are really two stories going on in the book, one is the current-day story of Lina in Italy and the other is 16 years ago of Lina’s mother Hadley and her time in Italy through her journal entries. The two stories weave together nicely and I enjoyed the contrast of the two.
The detailed descriptions of Italy were just perfect. They make you nostalgic for Italy if you’ve ever been and make you want to plan a trip if you haven’t. From the food to the scenery, the book makes you feel immersed in the culture. Welch captures the feeling of Italy so well, probably because she spent her high school years in Florence.
“You know, people come to Italy for all sorts of reasons, but when they stay, it’s for the same two things”
“Love and gelato.”
“Turns out there’s a reason they call it falling in love, because when it happens – really happens – that’s exactly how it feels. There’s no doing or trying, you just let go and hope that someone’s going to be there to catch you.”
This is a great summer read! It definitely makes me want to go explore Italy again!!