Title: Love & Gelato
Author: Jenna Evans Welch
Available in: Book Depository
“I made the wrong choice.”
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 she 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 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.
Here’s the story on how I got my hands on this. It’s more important than reading the blurb because I wouldn’t pay attention if the book didn’t call me. I told myself I’m done reading YA novels. They have become “too teenager” for me. I hoarded so much last year that I still have approximately 10 unopened books. I decided not to buy any this 2017. But one day, when I went to National Bookstore to look for crafting/scrapbook items, I saw Love & Gelato. The things I was looking for were across the dystopian kind of books and L&G just stood out. Its pastel color pales in comparison against the vivid and chaotic front covers of Divergent, The Maze Runner, and Shatter Me, to name a few. It looked so alone and lonely that I picked it up, read the blurb and bought it. Why wouldn’t I? It’s different in terms of not focusing on “teenage romance” thing. The journal got my interest. I love how there’s a touch of family and mystery, too. ITALY, OF COURSE! I’ve always wanted to backpack Europe. SOMEDAY.
As expected, there are pages for the journal entries of Lina’s deceased mother. It gave me that flashback feels I get in movies. It’s like I’m reading another story inside a story which is pretty interesting.
Jenna also used some Italian words every now and then. I think that’s just appropriate since the setting is Italy. Of course. What I just find funny about this first person POV thing is that, as the narrator and the script writer of their own story, they remember/write words such as: “Stiamo cercando il vestito più belle nel mondo.” LINA IS NOT ITALIAN LIKE HOW DO YOU SUPPOSED TO REMEMBER THAT? I’m a Filipino and whenever I hear Koreans talk in the KMart I go to, I don’t catch what they say. I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me. 😂 I understand though that it’s for the sake of the story. It’s just not that believable in a first person perspective. It’s more acceptable when she writes like this: “Esattamente. You’re getting good.” I may remember at least a word.
Also, I like how she also focused on Italy’s culture and art. It’s like I’m in Italy myself! The statues and places mentioned are all true and not fictional. I like that because I also learned a bit. Though, I’m not sure if the stories behind these arts that discussed in the book are the actual facts because I’ve only seen the pictures. I searched for them while reading and it’s more fun that way. Who would have thought that there is really this secret bakery in Florence! Now it’s not a secret anymore, is it? 😂
It is more exciting than I expected. Is it possible to have a ticket now to Italy and try gelato right away? I’m pretty sure that the gelato here doesn’t have the same taste.
Lina was sent to Italy to get to know her father that hasn’t been in her life since ever. Her mom was diagnosed of cancer and it was her dying wish for her to meet him. I should mention that he works in a cemetery. That’s not the plot twist so you can just enjoy that fact for now. From that day on, Lina read her mother’s journal, written when she had the chance to study in Italy to be a photographer. She’s remarkable, by the way. Left the mark she’s supposed to. Lina went to places where her mother has been in hope that she can still feel and see her. She met and made friends, tried different food, explore Italy and find her true identity. It’s not much of a thriller but it still something you don’t want to put down.
Also, look forward to castles and gingerbread houses! What a sight to see for ourselves. My imagination ran so wild on this one.
And it made me wonder about a couple of things:
- Do we really know our parents?
- Do they really know us?
- Am I willing to throw away my life here to live somewhere far to chase my dreams?
- Can’t I go for it here?
- Am I ready to leave this place?
- Where can I find a secret bakery?
- Can I have a free ticket to Italy?
Carolina, who goes by the name Lina, was kind of a brat in the beginning. I was like “YOU’RE IN ITALY! EXPLORE! DON’T STALL AND SULK! GET OUT! HAPPINESS IS A CHOICE!” I can’t blame her, though. She is already having a hard time losing her mother and now she’s thrown away from the life she’s living for 16 years to brave the unfamiliar— miles away from the place she’s called home. She kind of loosen up a bit when she met people her age but no matter how I think that’s normal, it’s kind of a conflict in her character. She wants to leave ASAP but then she goes out making friends, riding scooter while soaking wet from the pool initiation. She should have just read her mother’s journal in one sitting. Her mother goes to this so she stops reading then go sees the place herself. It’s kind of frustrating how young people just really jump into action. I feel so old now. Hahaha! I just find it too impulsive. But if it’s not, there wouldn’t have been a novel in the first place. 😂 I had to remind myself every now and then that she’s 16, I would have probably done the same. Don’t get me wrong, I love how she is developed here. Her experiences in Italy made her mature at some point. She’s coping well from the loss, too. Bless.
Howard (he is the one you need to figure out yourself) character’s is also well established—through the journal and when Lina really got to talk to him about their life. You see, it’s nice to see things in different perspectives. I just love how the protagonist is wrong about another protagonist and kind of regret it in the end. Ha. We must really not judge.
Ren, half-Italian and half-American who lives in in the gingerbread house and is the cool guy. Of course, you need romance in Italy and he’s that. He was there all throughout Lina’s journey. It wasn’t that cheesy sappy type and I like it. They just enjoyed themselves pretty well. It just went off “too teenager” (I will never get tired of saying this but I don’t mean it as a bad thing not just my cup of coffee now) at the end of the story. That, but still cute. He is hard to understand most of the times, though. He is as fickle as Lina. MAKE UP YOUR MINDS, KIDS.
QUOTE TO PONDER
..but Science has proven that the parts of the brain responsible for creativity and madness are the same.
Give it a read and let me know what you think! I’ll end this with this very nice phrase from the book: avere il cuore in mano