LOVE & GELATO by Jenna Evans Welch
A summer in Italy turns into a road trip across Tuscany in this sweeping debut novel filled with romance, mystery, and adventure.
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.
Who hasn’t had the daydream of moving and becoming not just the new girl, but the new girl that everyone is dying to be friends with and the boys are lining up to date? Maybe it was just me? The adventure of starting out in a new place and as a new cooler person was a glorious chimera that did not remotely play out that way when we moved part way through my junior year.
In Love and Gelato, however, Lina Emerson gets to fulfill that fantasy. Not only is she the new It Girl but she gets to start over in Florence, one of the most beautiful cities in the world. She meets a group of hip, wealthy and welcoming new friends who invite her to parties at villas with pools, fireworks and fancy dresses. She also has not one, but two hotties romantically interested in her.
You’d be excused in thinking that Lina has it made in the shade. But Lina is dealing with something that I never imagined even in my angriest moments — the death of her mother followed by moving to a foreign country with an unmentioned father. It’s the intriguing mystery of her mom and dad’s relationship that Lina explores through her mom’s diary and with the help of Ren, the cute half-Italian, half-American neighbor boy, is what really propels Lina through her grief and keeps the reader turning pages. Things get complicated as she unravels the year her mom spent in Florence at nineteen and Lina has to figure out whether she will make her own happiness, where she will do it, and who with. It’s a lot for a run of the mill It Girl, but Lina is not your average daydreamer. — Erin Nuttall