When summer rolls around, I start to crave books about Europe the way kids crave ice cream when they are at the pool (or, let’s be honest with ourselves, always).
If the book is about sunny Italy, I can’t pull out my wallet fast enough to purchase it. That’s why when the summer heat started to roll in at the beginning of June, I decided it was time to pull Love and Gelato off my bookshelf.
If the title were not enough of a hint, it is a summer book (it would feel very wrong to read it during the cold winter months…why torture yourself?). The story centers around Lina, a teenager whose mother just died of pancreatic cancer, and her summer in Italy with her father. Before you think this is going to be about her stay in some wealthy villa, check your expectations. Her father lives in a cemetery. Yes, that’s right. She has a lovely view of headstones from her bedroom window.
That isn’t to say there aren’t Gossip Girl style parties in the book or any romantic views. There are fireworks at parties at villas and strolls through the streets of Florence. It is basically a cheap ticket for a luxurious tour of Italy (even if there are a few gravestones). On a visceral level, reading the book is a pleasure and a mini-vacation.
But what about the plot and characters? I really enjoyed the character Lina. It was refreshing to read about a teenager struggling with grief in a real way. While it is not as magnificent of a portrayal of dealing with loss as Jandy Nelson’s The Sky Is Everywhere, it still rings true.
However, this realism is marred a bit when she is given her mother’s notebook and has to figure out her mother’s past.
I am going to take a brief digression to skewer the cliché of a lost loved one leaving some kind of documentation (usually with a mystery or scavenger hunt attached) behind to “help” those that they loved. No. Just, no. Every single time I experience this plotline (I am looking at you P.S. I Love You and 13 Little Blue Envelopes), I think that the departed must have been a horrible person. Why are you wasting people’s time and energy by making them solve puzzles? Just communicate what you need to communicate while you are alive. It is all about open communication, people.
Okay, back to the book.
There is also a fun romance between Lina and Ren (an Italian boy who has a pretty cool bike), but, again, it is spoiled by bringing in two love triangles (or is it a square at that point?). I am not one of those anti-love triangle people.
I am a HUGE fan of love triangles, but I feel like it needs to have a purpose or be believable.
In this case, it felt like it was tacked on just to check off a young adult fiction box or add tension that didn’t need to be added. It also didn’t help that the other people in the geometric shape didn’t seem to have developed personalities. (If you are looking for an example of an amazing love triangle, I recommend Stephanie Perkins’ Lola and the Boy Next Door.)
Still, if you are looking for a fun summer diversion, this is the perfect book to pack with you when you go to the pool. Just make sure you don’t drip any ice cream on it after you’ve made an ice cream truck run.
Ready for gelato? Pick up your copy using this link and we make pennies!