Love and Gelato
by Jenna Evans Welch
I loved this book! This is one I would absolutely read again and I’m recommending all over the place. It’s a Young Adult fiction, which is not a genre I’ve happened to be reading a lot of, but I’m so glad I did this time. When I first started reading, I thought the dialogue was a little rough or forced, but as I fell into the story, it stopped bothering me and I didn’t notice it anymore. I thought the plot was heartwarming, sweet, and very clever. There was so much good about Love and Gelato.
Lina is 16 and has just gone through the unimaginable: losing her mom to cancer. Before her mom died, she made Lina promise to go to Italy. Unsure of why, Lina agrees, and now finds herself in Italy, on her way to meet her father. Her father she didn’t know existed because her mom never told her (she found out from her grandmother after her mom died). Lina is hurting, angry and confused. She misses her mom and her best friend, Addie, and she hates that her dad, Howard, lives in a war memorial (aka a cemetery). After her first awkward night, Lina goes for a run, where she meets Ren, a half Italian, half American boy her age. They hit it off and he becomes her unofficial tour guide. After a few days, Lina’s dad’s co-worker Sonia, gives Lina a package that was sent to the memorial. It’s her mom’s journal. At first Lina is too overwhelmed to open it, but then her curiosity gets the better of her. As she reads, Lina gets drawn into her mother’s world from when she was a young woman studying photography in Italy. Lina reads about how her mom fell in love with her dad, “X,” and how it needed to be a secret. Lina starts wondering about X and about how certain things don’t line up, so she confides in Ren and the two of them begin to figure out the past. Spoilers: Lina doesn’t look anything like her dad, and he doesn’t recall certain things from his past with Lina’s mom. Lina is suspicious and with Ren by her side, they continue to read the journal and track down people who knew her mom. Turns out, another man, Matteo, is Lina’s dad. They find him and learn that he is an awful, selfish person and doesn’t want anything to do with Lina. By now, she has grown to really like her fake dad and soon learns the truth: her mom was in love with Matteo and got pregnant with Lina. Before she found out about the baby, she realized what an awful guy Matteo was and moved on, realizing she really loved Howard. By then she knew she was pregnant, but that the baby was Matteo’s. In Italy, the baby would rightfully be his, so she makes a heart wrenching decision to leave Howard (not telling him about the baby, just making him think she didn’t love him), and also to leave Italy so Matteo could never have an influence over the baby or take the baby away. Lina and Howard finally talk and realize the sacrifice Lina’s mom made. In the beginning of the journal, there’s a single phrase: “I made the wrong choice.” It becomes clear that Lina’s mom wishes she had stayed with Howard because she loved him. Howard and Lina find closure and because they have grown fond of each other, Howard offers to be Lina’s dad and she accepts. Meanwhile, Lina has fallen in love with Ren, but they have a lot of miscommunication and are each thinking the other one doesn’t love them, when they both really love each other. Lina tries to make it better, but fails and is heartbroken. Then, Ren decides to try one last time and they get everything out in the open and realize they both love each other. Lina decides to stay in Italy to finish high school now that she has found a dad and a boyfriend and is finally finding happiness after her mother’s death. It is a very sweet ending and I just loved the banter and friendship between Lina and Ren, and Lina and Howard. My synopsis doesn’t do this sweet, clever story justice.
Summing it up: I highly recommend this book!
All the best, Abbey