Wednesday, 14 June 2017

A Review of Love and Gelato

Love and Gelato is a book by Jenna Evans Welch. Set in Florence and a surrounding village in the Italian countryside, over the course of a summer. Carolina "Lina" Emerson's mother has died of breast cancer, and she sends her daughter to Italy, to stay with her father. While there, Lina finds her mother's journal, that was sent to Italy via post. Using the clues in the journal, Lina traces her mother's footsteps through Italy, and discovers that what happened their wasn't as simple as it seemed.

I was willing to cut Lina a lot of slack for her actions, considering that her mother had just died. She seems ungrateful to Howard, who has been nothing but kind to her, but her mother just died. She doesn't seem interested in exploring her surroundings, especially for someone who apparently had an interest in travelling the world, but then again her mother just died. We also find out that she's competitive and loves running, which is better characterisation than a lot of protagonists receive. However, she doesn't know what gelato is, and read about the Pont Vecchio but didn't know what it was? I could understand not knowing about, say, the Duomo, but gelato? Come on!

Of course, there's also a love triangle, between a very American Italian and a boy with a British accent. Is anyone else rolling their eyes now? What on earth is the big deal with British accents, anyway? The resolution becomes obvious from about the half-way mark. The friends she makes in Italy, who have been desperate to meet her since they found out she would be joining their school (Okay, I never remember the new kid getting as much attention as they do in fiction) all live in quirky-cool houses. A gingerbread cottage! A Medici palace! Yet we never see how normal people in Italy in normal houses live. Lina describes Howard's house as "any normal house in a normal neighbourhood." I'm sure any house in Italy would warrant a description of how it differs from a house in the USA. Sorry, but with travel books, I like to know about all of the differences in culture!

Other quibbles: a character's skin is described as "coffee-coloured" at one point. There's a very young girl who speaks nothing like how old she's meant to be. A child who is still the age at which she's proud of pooping the the right place will not sound like every other character. Also, the one of the love interests has a girlfriend, who proceeds to be bitchy to our heroine and blames her for getting harassed at a club. Also, how can Lina look both so much like her mother that people who knew her are taken aback, and so Italian that the locals think she speaks it?

This might seem like I dislike this book, which I did not. For it's sort of book - a sweet holiday read - it accomplishes it's role to take you away to a different place remarkably well. It's a light, easy beach read, that also does have a more serious side. Howard, the man she is staying with, isn't her true father, but the way he treats her even after this shows just why our birth parents aren't always the best for us. In fact, the parts of the book dealing with Lina and Howard's relationship are some of the best parts.

I recommend this book for anyone looking for a cute contemporary book to read this summer.

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