Hey all! Today I’m bringing you my short thoughts on Love & Gelato by Jenna Welch. This book was featured in my popular YA books I’ve never read post from last month, and well, that list is now one shorter! Here we go.
“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.
Characters: the characters in L&G are very believable early teenagers. Lina is especially impulsive with her decisions and rash about her people judgements, while her new friends are also very straightforward about their feelings. Although I give a thumbs up for realistic characters for their ages, they’re really just too much at some points. Have you ever read a book and thought, “nobody behaves this way in real life”? That’s how I felt about 99% of the L&G characters.
The only character I really connected with was Howard because I think his behavior is very realistic for the given”I haven’t been around in sixteen years, but here I am now” situation. He is kind, thoughtful, and funny in a dad way. I was so frustrated with Lina for how she treated Howard for the first half of the book, but nevertheless, she’s probably reacting in a way a 16-year-old may.
Cliches: Okay listen, it may be a spoiler, but you deserve to know: there is both an insta-love and a love triangle in this book. And in my honest opinion, both were very poorly executed. The characters involved in this love triangle are riddled with cliches. You know, the “I like you but you have a girlfriend” cliche and the “wow, your girlfriend is unbelievably beautiful, but her personality is trash!” cliche. Blah. Without any spoilers, let’s just say the romance in this book seriously didn’t do it for me.
Plot & pacing: Although I didn’t fall in love with the characters of this novel, the plot and pacing of this book was fantastic! Combined, these two aspects are seriously the reason I finished the book and rated it a 3.5 star. From the synopsis, you know that there is this mystery behind Lina’s father and why he has been absent from her life up until her mom’s passing. I thoroughly enjoyed following Lina and Ren around Italy and piecing the puzzle of Lina’s mom’s past together with them. It was engaging and kept me guessing. In my opinion, the plot and pacing is the best part of this book.
In all, I’d recommend Love & Gelato to early teenage YA readers and people who are intrigued by Italian culture (though I cannot confirm nor deny the book’s representation of this culture is accurate, as I am not Italian!). It’d be nice for those who are looking for a contemporary, summery read and are not too bothered by an impulsive MC. Although I didn’t love this book, it may still be a great read for you!
Thanks for reading my review of L&G! If you read this book, let me know what you thought of it below!