The next novel on the list of Leigh-Ann’s never-ending pile of “To Be Read” books is none other than this cute YA summer romance known as Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch.
I’m still trying to get through all the loads of books that are lining every corner of my bedroom. Sometimes I wish I was a faster reader and, other times, I’m too engrossed in how intricately woven a story is to care that it’s taking me more than three days to finish.
Love & Gelato is the kind of novel that can be read in two days tops–if you clear your schedule, isolate yourself in your room and temporarily become a hermit. It’s the kind of story that satisfies your craving for a sweet summer romance.
Carolina’s life is already complicated after losing her mother and, pretty much, becoming an orphan. It gets even more complicated when her grandmother sends her to live in Italy with the father she’s never met for the summer. In the midst of pining for her homeland and verbalising her worries to Addie, her best friend, and Lina receives an old journal that her mother wrote in when she lived in Italy. From the time Lina starts reading the journal, her motivation for staying in Italy completely changes, and she’s determined to unravel the things her mother never told her while experiencing the land of romance.
To say that this book wasn’t a mushy, romance novel filled with moments that made you want to drop everything and experience a new culture would be an understatement. Reading Love & Gelato felt like reading a guided book tour on Italy, and the authenticity dripped off the dialogue of each character Lina interacted with in her story.
However, I disliked Lina’s character in the beginning for her inability to appreciate the fact that she was in a gorgeous, picturesque place. While it’s understandable that she was still grieving the loss of her mother, I still couldn’t fathom how non-existent her sense of adventure was. I also couldn’t understand why she preferred to discover the truth about the things her mother wrote about on her own instead of just reading the damn journal. If she’s curious about whom her real father is, why doesn’t she just read the journal? No, she has to go off on a wild goose chase to Rome. While it makes for a great tale, it comes off as just not being logical.
Thankfully, the storyline picks up when she meets Ren, the American-Italian boy-next-door, and is thrown into the world of the average Italian teenager (at least the book’s depiction of one). Even though I felt as if the characters were somewhat one-dimensional, I constantly reminded myself that Love & Gelato is one of those light summer read books that you can’t take too seriously. Still, I hated the fact that the author had to make one of the competing love interests for Lina and her mother absolute jerks. Did Thomas, the boy with the young James Bond look and British accent, have to become a jerk halfway through the novel so that Lina could know that she was undeniably in love with Ren? Why is it that in some romance novels, for the protagonist to choose the “right guy”, the other guy she’s interested in has to be a somewhat asshole?
Regardless of my qualm over how unoriginal the romance in this book was, I still loved reading Love & Gelato. I enjoyed those moments where I had to have a translator app open so I could follow along with some of the dialogue. I loved site-seeing with Lina as I Googled all the places being described in the book, and I absolutely adored the romance scenes and adventures Lina and Ren experienced. I’d encourage you to read this cute novel but it’s been on my TBR list so long that I’m pretty sure you already have. Still, I heard that a spin-off of Love & Gelato came out this year and is based on Lina’s bestie, Addie. Why not give it a go?