Review: Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

Rating: ★★★★

Lina’s mother’s dying wish was that her daughter get to know her father. And to do that, Lina must spend the summer in Tuscany, even though she definitely isn’t in the mood for Italy’s famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape. Once she is given a journal that her mother had kept when she lived in Italy, Lina finds herself uncovering a world of secret romances, art and hidden bakeries. The journal allows her to feel closer to her mother but also, with the help of the ever-so-charming Ren, 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 herself.

I’ve had this book on my kindle for almost forever. But, the reason that I finally picked it up is because I was meant to go to Italy with my friends this summer as a graduation celebration. It was all planned and then miss Rona hit us hard. So, I would be lying if I said I picked up this book as a means to feel like I was in Italy and boy, did it work.

Love & Gelato is a coming-of-age story with fun adventures, amazing characters and a heartfelt message about identity, love, family, regrets and hope. I’m in awe at how something so light and fluffy and uncomplicated can deliver such a meaningful story all while giving me heart flutters.

The Duomo of Florence

While the plot itself is simple, it is also extremely gripping. While not being incredibly complicated, the pace is well-thought out, tackling the story with development, emotion and love. And while I pretty much called all the twists minutes before they happened, I didn’t expect this book to be primarily about the mystery with the romance as only a side-plot. Expecting the exact opposite, I was pleasantly surprised and it was Lina’s discoveries of her mother’s adventures and her mother’s love story that kept me intrigued and gripped. I also enjoyed how the journal entries were added gradually into the book, slowly and then all at once rather than being bombarded with it all at once. It’s a good shift between journal entries and Lina’s own experiences.

The setting of the story is in Italy and the author does a brilliant job of captivating its beauty through language. It’s vivid, it’s educational, it’s developed and it’s breathtaking. The food, the culture, the history, the people and the places – all of it made me desperately wish I was in Italy eating Gelato in a white summer dress. I also actually learnt a few phrases while reading but I’m definitely not going to be a Lina who just throws Italian curse words out without knowing the meaning!

I also fell in love with the characters. Lina’s character development is excellent – she goes from bratty, selfish to a persevering, brave and adventurous young woman seeking to understand her mother and her life just a little bit closer. Also Ren is so charming. The way he throws himself into Lina’s mystery and she trusts him to help reveal the truth. He’s cheerful and truly adorable – the way he was so scared of Howard had me giggling.

At the end of the day, Love & Gelato is a super quick contemporary read that will, without a doubt, make you feel mushy inside. It’s the ultimate feel good book that is perfect for the summer season. I’m off to go find my own ren to love, eat my entire body weight in Gelato and pasta and enjoy all the art Florence has to offer.

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