Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Love and Gelato will go down in my memory as one of those stories that I will read again just when I do not remember all of the details so I can visit Italy again. I received a copy through Edelweiss. I cannot help but be attracted to a book with this title. The cover is unassuming but appropriate. I kept thinking what does it have to do with gelato? Of course, if you have ever tasted gelato it is easy to think of ways to wax poetic about it write songs about it, or even write books about it. Eating gelato is not just a treat. It is an experience and the way it was tied into this book worked really well. Love and Gelato is the story of a sixteen year old teenager who goes to Tuscany to live with her father after making a promise to her mom when she was dying. She agrees to at least spend the summer in Tuscany, at least that is what she agrees to in her own mind. Her Grandmother is not prepared to take her. She has had a great time living with her best friend’s family and plans to return there as soon as possible.
When she gets to Tuscany she is heavily mourning her mom and in shock from meeting a man that has never bothered to get to know her during her 16 years of life. Why did her mother never mention this man before she was dying? She was not even aware of her mom’s time in Italy, even though it played such a large part in her life. Lina is a smart, athletic, pretty teenager who appears to do a good job of making friends despite all that she is dealing with since her mom died. One of the things Love and Gelato handles really well is the loss of a parent, specifically loss of a parent when still a child. The experience is different for everyone, but it has specific difficulties when that parent is the only parent the child has known. In addition to loss of a parent, Lina is living through the loss of her home and, in a sense, loss of or leaving her friends and school behind. Another great thing this book handles well is making new friends in a strange place. What can be as strange as an entirely new country where you don’t even speak the language? One of the best scenes in the book was when Lina first meets Ren and he tells her about the people at the international school that have been waiting months to meet her because her dad had already contacted the school and talked to them about enrolling her. The school is small enough that all of the students are made aware and they look forward to it. Her new friend Marco has the best response and I won’t spoil it for other readers, but, you will know it when you see it. Finally, Love and Gelato does a great job with discussing single parents and the tribulations that children go through when having to explain to people they just met that they were not only raised in a single parent home, but, also lost that only parent. Love and Gelato does bring out some extreme emotions from the reader but they only draw the reader into the story more. This was a great read and I look forward to seeing more from this author and to reading it again.