Summary: Lina is living in Tuscany for the summer, but not for its fairytale landscape and one million and one gelato flavors. It was her mother’s dying wish for Lina to get to know her father. That she’s never met. All Lina wants to do is go back home. But when Lina is given her mother’s journal about her own experience in Italy, Lina is suddenly uncovering secret romances, night clubs, and hidden barkeries. Along with the boy-next-door, Ren, Lina is determine to unearth a secret that’s been kept for way too long. Maybe there’s more to Italy than love and gelato after all.
My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Even as I write this review, I’m still trying to figure out how I didn’t pick up Jenna Evans Welch’s Love & Gelato before this summer. A summer contemporary that takes place in Italy and features SO MUCH FOOD that hadn’t previously been on my read list? While I’ve been slowly picking up more fantasy, my heart was craving a contemporary and I decided to give Love & Gelato a go.
I’ve read a few books this season that have fueled my wanderlust, and Love & Gelato is no exception. Jenna Evans Welch transports reader to the Tuscan countryside, with plenty of pasta, mozzarella, and gelato in store. I’m still in shock that Lina didn’t know what a cannoli was before coming to Italy. I guess I live in a somewhat Italian- area because cannolis are (thankfully) available in almost all of the bakeries. I think it was also really obvious how much research Jenna must have put into this book. For example. Ren and Howard often explain Florence’s history and landmarks to Lina.
While there is some romance, the book has a bigger focus on family. Lina is grieving from her mother’s death and moves to Tuscany to meet her father for the first time. I liked seeing Howard and Lina form a relationship, and the journal was a great way for Lina’s mom to have an ongoing role in the story. But I. just. wanted. Lina. to FINISH READING IT! THE ANSWERS ALWAYS LIE IN THE PAGES.
However, it was fun seeing Ren and Lina bond over figuring out her mother’s past, and their banter often made me laugh out loud:
“ “I want to try for another record tomorrow. What was the last kind I had? With the chocolate chunks?”
“I’m naming my first daughter after it.”
“Lucky her.” ” (173)
My four years of taking Italian between high school and college finally came to use because of Love & Gelato. Knowing Italian isn’t a must for this book, as it’s occasionally used by some of Lina’s friends and locals for smaller phrases. Most of the books I read that do feature other languages usually are in Spanish or French, so it was fun to not have to rely on Google Translate.
Overall, I loved Love & Gelato for its setting, humor, and focusing more on family than romance. I just put Love & Luck on hold from my library and I’ll be reading it as soon as it comes in!
Have you read Love & Gelato? What’s your favorite ice cream/gelato flavor? Share in the comments!