Title: Love & Gelato
Author: Jenna Evans Welch
Genre: Young Adult Romance
Che romantico! Love & Gelato is a beautiful story of love and loss that managed to bring the magical city of Florence to life on the page. The novel, which uses journal entries to transport the reader 17 years back in time, takes place in Italy where the heroine of the story, 16-year-old Carolina, spends the summer with her father. However, this isn’t an ordinary visit. Carolina only found about this father’s existence as her mother passed away from cancer.
Although Carolina (who goes by Lina) was a whirlwind of emotions in this novel (she seemed to be in or near tears in almost every chapter), I was rooting for her every step of the way. Then again, I was rooting for almost everyone in the book. From her father, Howard, to her love interest(s), all the characters were likeable except those who were clearly not meant to be. Overall, I felt Lina was a brave, adventurous, and inquisitive young woman who did a marvelous job overcoming an incredibly challenging chapter of her life.
The story unfolds as Lina reads her mother’s journal. The passages recount her mother’s time studying photography in Florence. The more Lina reads, the more she learns about her mother’s secret past and the reason she did not hear about Howard until the last days of her mother’s life. While uncovering the mystery, Lina has the opportunity to explore the new city, meet international friends, and even fall in love.
While Love & Gelato is not a crash course in Italian history, I can say that Welch touches on some of the best and prettiest parts of Florence in the story. From the delicious pizza to the narrow stairs of the Duomo (which I have trekked myself!), one could imagine walking the streets of the city with Lina as she explored.
I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys stories of sweet, young romance or fantasizes about starry European nights. There is also a great mystery that unfolds, which adds depth to the story and drives the plot. I look forward to reading the entire ‘Love &’ collection.