Monday, July 11, 2016

4 Reasons Love & Gelato Made Me Want to Drop Everything and Move to Italy

Title: Love & Gelato
Author: Jenna Evans Welch
Series: N/A
Length: 390 pages
Published by: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: May 3, 2016
Diversity: none

I've always loved Italy. Now, keep in mind, I've been out of the U.S. for a grand total of 8 hours (to the distant land of Canada) and I've never even gone near Europe. But I've been slightly obsessed with Italy for quite a while. I have quite the musical background, and pretty much all of the directions in classical music are in Italian. All the pictures I've seen of Italy are gorgeous. And I could easily live off of Italian food for the rest of my life.

Love & Gelato reminded me how much I want to go to Italy someday. Here's some of the reasons why:

1. The scenery. I've always known that Italy is beautiful. If you haven't already done so at some point, you should definitely Google "Italian countryside." But Love & Gelato never lets you forget how amazing it is. The protagonist, Lina, is a runner, and we hear a lot about how blown away she is by her surroundings and how picture-perfect everything is. And that's not exclusive to nature - the cities are just as incredible. Lina visits Florence and Rome, and those parts made me want to see everything.

2. The food. I believe wholeheartedly that Italian food is the best kind of food ever invented. I would be perfectly happy eating nothing but pizza and pasta for every lunch and dinner for the rest of my life. And this is coming from someone who's only had American Italian food - I can only imagine how much more amazing actual Italian food is. And food is definitely a big part of this book. Lina's pretty much in love with the food from the minute she tastes the lasagna on her first day in Italy, and it only gets better from there.

3. The history. Okay, history isn't a huge focus of this book. But there are a few things sprinkled in, and I'm always awestruck when I read a book in a setting that's so full of history. (I'm a bit of a history nerd. Just a little.) Where I live, things that were constructed in the 1920s are seen as absolutely ancient. Even from just what's mentioned in the book, Italy's history sprawls through centuries.

4. The gelato. Yes, gelato gets a point that's completely separate from the food point. If you haven't tried gelato, do yourself a favor and get some stracciatella (not the soup, although I'm sure that's great, too). Gelato is basically ice cream, but BETTER. Again, I've only had gelato in the U.S., and I'm sure that Italian gelato is about a million times better. And there is plenty of gelato in this book. After all, it's in the title!

Of course, the main function of Love & Gelato was not to be an Italian tourism advertisement (although it would definitely work as one). It's a novel! And I know I haven't really talked about any of the typical things that make up a novel - you know, plot, characters, those somewhat important things - it's the setting that really sets this book apart. If you want a cute summer contemporary, there's no shortage of options in the YA world. But I haven't found that many that take place in Italy. (However, if you know of any more, please tell me.)

That said, though, I should take a minute to talk about the aspects of the book that aren't Italy. This book has incredibly lovable characters, from focused, competitive Lina to kind, thoughtful Howard. There are essentially two plots - one about Lina's adventures in Italy, and one, told through a journal, about her mother's. Both of them captivated me, and they parallel each other in a lot of ways, as Lina follows parts of her mother's path through Italy. It's a book about family, friendship, and love; it's about dreams and illusions and figuring out what - and who - you really want. And it's funny! I can't even begin to count the number of times that I laughed out loud at this book, which was a nice, unexpected, surprise.

There are a couple of things with the romance that might bother some people.  Firstly, it's a little bit insta-love-y, but if this makes any sense, it doesn't feel that way. So much happens that when I figured out that most of the book takes place in a span of less than a week, I was honestly shocked. And secondly, there is a love square (two intersecting love triangles). I'm not usually a fan of love polygons in general, and I could have done without this one, but it was well-written and it wasn't really a focus, so it didn't really make me enjoy the book any less.

So many people say that summer is the perfect time for contemporaries, and this is the perfect contemporary for summer. Highly recommended!

Have you been to Italy? Do you want to go? Have you read any books set there? Tell me in the comments!


  1. This sounds like a really cute book! I like stories that are set in different parts of the world, and I agree that gelato is amazing. I haven't been to Italy, but I definitely love Italian food and wouldn't turn down a chance to go have it there!

    1. It's such a cute book! For some reason, I haven't read that many contemporaries that take place outside of the U.S., but I really like reading them.