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.
Title: Love & Gelato
Author: Jenna Evans Welch
Publication date: May 3, 2016
I received Love & Gelato from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
I don’t read a book’s synopsis right before starting the book, so I was a little worried when I first started Love & Gelato only to find that Lina’s mother was dying of cancer. Having forgotten what it was about, I was concerned that this would be a crying book. I don’t do crying books.
To be honest, I didn’t know much about it when I requested it either. All I really saw was the word gelato. Now I’ve never had gelato from Italy or anything, but it seems to be quite trendy right now and is filling the freezer cases at my grocery stores. I might have six pints of Talenti in my freezer right now. I’m sure purists would laugh, but I don’t care. So basically I requested Love & Gelato because of the title.
And I loved it! It reminded me a lot of Anna and the French Kiss, I guess just because of the moving to a European country alone as a teenager thing. I’ve never been to Italy so I don’t know how true to the real Italy and Florence it is (but the author did live there as a teenager, so…), but the descriptions made me feel like I was there. I really liked exploring Florence with Lina and Ren and they easy friendship they developed.
Howard, the father Lina has never met, and his living circumstances aren’t quite what Lina expected at first, and they both take some time for Lina to get used to them. She feels out of place in Italy and unsure of herself. But Howard isn’t entirely comfortable (but he’s not unwelcoming) either, and that actually helps Lina. It’s a new relationship for both of them, one that neither of them ever really expected. Howard’s a good character and I liked him even more as Lina discovered more about him and his relationship with her mother.
I also liked reading Lina’s mother’s journal along with her and the secrets she was able to uncover. She had to do some digging and it seemed like some things were a little too easily discovered, but I liked the book so much that I was willing to forgive that. Fortunately for me, the book skipped some time between Lina’s mother’s death and her move, so I didn’t have to deal with her grief. While, of course, she was still grieving and missing her mother, she’d had some time to move past the raw, initial grief and to settle into “this is how life is now.” Her mother’s journal was a great way for Lina to get to know a younger version –only slightly older than Lina herself — of mother better.
I’m typically not a rereader so I don’t keep most of the physical books I buy or even the eARCs I receive. This is one book I will consider buying in physical form (that cover!) and rereading. I’m pretty sure that I’m going to want to go back and revisit Italy with Lina.