Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Book Review: Love & Gelato

A few weeks ago I had the most vivid and beautiful dream. Everything was crisp and it felt so real. Luckily, Keith, the kids, and I were in Tuscany and then Cinque Terre, and I woke up on cloud 9. The next day I brought the kids to Barnes and Noble‬ and I happened to find Love & Gelato sitting on a table. I knew that I not only had to purchase it, but read it immediately.

My hopes were high, as my yearning for Italy has grown over the last few months (if you can believe it), and I was actually hoping to find a fiction novel based in Italy that day at BN. I began reading Love & Gelato last weekend on our way to Lake Lure for a weekend getaway, and finished a few days later.

I am pleased to report that this book easily met my expectations, and I loved exploring Florence with Lina and Ren. While this book is considered a Young Adult book and is for readers 12 and up, I thought it was a perfect summer read. (And technically, 30 is still considered "young adult", right? ;)) Another reviewer of this book stated, "I have a hole in my heart shaped exactly like Italy, so this was a delicious story to sink into to." I wish I'd said this, because it's exactly how I feel. 

Love & Gelato is written by Jenna Evans Welch and is her debut novel. (!!!) So, what's it actually about?

A summer in Italy turns into a road trip across Tuscany in this sweeping debut novel filled with romance, mystery, and adventure. 
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.
So besides beautiful Italy, what's so great about this book? For starters, I love Welch's writing style and her ability to paint such detailed pictures of Florence. I love how the relationships between characters blossom and how the reader is able to get to know each person personally. I enjoyed laughing out loud to different parts of this book, and felt empathy for sweet Lina as she navigated life without her mom. And to top it off, my favorite quote was used in this story: "A life without love is like a year without summer."

Overall, I highly recommend reading Love & Gelato and anything else Jenna Evans Welch writes!

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