By: Jenna Evans Welch
Published Year: 2016
Publisher: Simon Pulse
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Summary (Provided by Goodreads): 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.
The name of the book first caught my eye on the Debut Author’s Challenge list. Love? Gelato? Sign me up! Then I saw how cute the cover was and read the summary and knew it would be the perfect summer read.
What I thought
Such a cute book! When I finished I definitely wasn’t ready to leave this world.
Lina has been sent to spend the summer in Florence. The only reason she is there is because while her mother was dying, she asked Lina to promise to go. Shortly before Lina left, her grandmother told her that the man her mother wanted her to spend the summer with is he father. Up until her mother started talking about Howard after she got sick, Lina had never even known he existed. Once in Florence, she is given her mother’s journal from when she had lived in Florence. Linda decides to follow in her mother’s footsteps and explore the city with her new, adorable, friend Ren.
Everything about this book was adorable. While it starts off a bit heavy with Lina losing her mom at a young age, it never feels overly heavy. Lia is obviously dealing with grief, but that’s not the central part of the story. Instead, she is enjoying learning more about her mother’s life before she existed. At one point she mentions that she’s scared to finish reading the journal because she knows once she’s done she’ll never hear anything new from her mother again. That line broke my heart.
I loved the journal entries from Lina’s mom. Evans Welch did a really nice job of making Lina’s mom’s voice different from Lina’s and the story also transitioned easily between the journal and the present day story.
In addition to learning about her mother and getting to know the father she never knew existed, she meets Ren, short for Lorenzo. He is a boy about her age who is half American and half Italian. Ren is such a fun character! He isn’t perfect but everything he does works perfect with Lina. He is such a solid friend and tries to help her figure out her mother’s past.
Evans Welch also did such a great job at writing about Florence. It has never been on my list f places to visit, but after reading this book it has definitely made the list! Not only did it pique my interest, but I feel like I’ve already visited it a little. The descriptions of the scenery are so wonderful and vivid that I feel as though I was there with Lina. Absolutely beautiful and magical.
I also enjoyed the relationship between Howard and Lina. It wasn’t typical of what you read when people meet the father they never knew they had. Lina isn’t overly dramatic or angry, and Howard never tries to be more than who he is. He is so supportive and he is a great person.
By: Jenna Evans Welch