Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch
” Maybe that was just part of the Italian experience. Come to Italy. Fall in love. Watch everything blow up in your face. You could probably read about it on travel websites.”
Love & Gelato is all kinds of adorableness. Lina is in Italy, her mother just passed away of pancreatic cancer and she has essentially been sent for the summer to meet the father she never met. Coping with her grief while avoiding the awkwardness with her father, Howard, she is given a token of her mother. A journal. The journal she kept while she was studying photography in Florence. What she discovers is the story of what happened those 16 years ago when her mother fell in love and found herself pregnant in Italy. Lina’s summer abroad has suddenly turned into a scavenger hunt to find out the truth about her mother’s past and why she left Howard if they were so much in love.
About halfway through this book I decided that it very much reminded me of the movie Letters to Juliet. There’s even a guy named Lorenzo and a handsome British guy to sweep unsuspecting Lina off her feet. Aside from that and the hunt in Italy, there really aren’t that many similarities to be honest. Still, everything about this book made me want to book the next flight out of the states and head to Florence, see the sights, and try some stracciatella gelato. I almost stopped reading to start a pinterest board for my non existent future trip to Florence featuring all the locations she goes to and lists of gelato flavors to try. I suppose I should brush up on some Italian first. The book wove Italian flare not only with the wonderful descriptions of its architectural and art and it’s food, but also by throwing in the occasional Italian phrase or word. I loved it, there was so much more personality in the book because of it.
The characters themselves were super sweet. It was hard not to feel for Lina as she struggled to cope with the loss of her mother while finding herself in a completely strange place to her with a complete stranger that was supposed to be her dad. Ren was such a good friend trying to make her experience smoother by showing her sights, introducing her friends, and even giving her the occasional shoulder to cry on. Though brief, the other characters through the book gave a lot more flare here and there.
The writing was smooth, however, the beginning of the book sort of dragged a little bit. It took me a good 75 pages before I really got into the book. But after that, I started flipping through it pretty fast. Once she really starts getting into appreciating the fact that she is 1. in Florence and 2. has one more opportunity to learn something about her mom the story rolled down hill picking up speed as it went. It was super sweet and touching while she learned more about her mom and more about Howard as well as discovering more about herself in the process. The heartbreaking information hit at the perfect timing the book to push to the end.