Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch
Synopsis – goodreads
“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.
After skimming through the synopsis, I figured Love & Gelato would be the cute spring/summer version of Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer. And although both books have somewhat similar tropes and plot lines, it was not at all what I expected.
Expectation v. Reality
- Cheesy Romance 1. Great friendship —> Romance
- Journal w/ easy to find clues 2. A rollercoaster ride of mystery
- Small anecdotes about Florence 3. Vibrant writing of its history & beauty
Lina and Ren’s friendship blossomed into the most picturesque young adult romance. It was slow building, with small hints dropping here and there as the story progressed. However, it was their genuine friendship that I enjoyed reading the most.
Lina’s mom’s journal was as eye-opening as it was mysterious. The journal was a small yet important piece of Hadley Emerson’s (Lina’s mom) life story. It contained her mom’s voice and deepest thoughts from beyond the grave. It was a piece of her that Lina could physically hold on to. It was frightening and at times sad but also therapeutic for Lina and also the reader. At least it was therapeutic for me lol. Losing a parent especially at a young age, is probably one of the hardest experiences. And most of us aren’t lucky enough to have something as personal as a journal or a letter to hold on to. I loved that Lina had something tangible of her mother’s to hold on to. A way for her to keep her mom’s memory alive in a very personal way.
I’ve traveled to Florence (unfortunately I only spent two days there) and I absolutely fell in love with the city. I didn’t expect the overwhelming nostalgic feeling. I loved that Jenna Evans Welch included the city’s history. The vivid imagery of places I’ve been to like the Ponte Vecchio Bridge and places I didn’t get the chance to visit, transported me instantly . I especially enjoyed scenes where gelato made its appearance. That might seem silly to say since it’s in the title, but almost 1/2 way through the book, there was little mention of the tasty desert. I consumed so much gelato during my time in Italy, and I could almost taste it through the pages again.
Overall, I really enjoyed Love & Gelato. It was a story of true unadulterated love both romantic and familial, and the tastiest gelato!