A summer in Italy turns into a road trip across Tuscany in this sweeping debut novel filled with romance, mystery, and adventure.
Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, but she isn’t in the mood for Italy’s famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape. She’s only there because it was her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn’t around for sixteen years? All Lina wants to do is get back home.
But then Lina is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy. Suddenly Lina’s uncovering a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries. A world that inspires Lina, along with the ever-so-charming Ren, to follow in her mother’s footsteps and unearth a secret that has been kept from Lina for far too long. It’s a secret that will change everything she knew about her mother, her father—and even herself.
People come to Italy for love and gelato, someone tells her, but sometimes they discover much more.
Okay, so this was one of those few books that could make me literally squeal with how adorable it was at certain points. And I mean, audibly squeal like a tween fangirl. Some of the dialogue, POV, and just general aesthetic were just too adorable to bear. However, that being said, I did have some issues with certain character arcs, as well as a generally kind of… cliché tone that the story had (all of which I will explain).
To start, this is kind of (?) a spoiler, so be warned. Lina’s mother. Just. Holy poop, did that character have some issues. The entire story I was distracted by just… what a terrible mom she kind of seemed to be? I recognize that terminal illnesses and being a young mother can both make people react differently, but also? The way that Lina’s mom handled the entire situation was despicable. Leaving that poor girl to figure out literally her entire back story of life, with some random people she’d never met in a country she had never met, just giving her vague ideas of what she did at art school… what? It was just SO MESSED UP. Which, was kind of a major issue for me, because most of the plot revolved around us feeling bad for Lina’s mother and her artsy, angsty heartbreaks, as Lina goes around trying to uncover the truth of it. Thus, for me, it was a tad difficult to feel invested into that aspect of the plot, as her mother honesty seemed like an exceptionally selfish person, and I could not cope.
As I mentioned, the story is also just a bit cliché in nature. The whole love triangle (square??) as well as just the general concept of “young, devastated girl is left in foreign country to do her own thing when she is suddenly sent on an adventure conveniently involved many attractive foreign, accented young men.” HOWEVER, that being said, the book was not cliché in a terrible way–it was honestly endearing. I can be very pretentious about my literature, however, I did enjoy how adorably corny this book was in certain parts. It was overall very kawaii in nature, and I was blushing the entire time that the young love was occurring (with a side of food loving heroine, and various sport related monologues).
Overall, this book was a great, quick read. I would think of this as being a part of the younger YA spectrum–that grey area between Middle School and YA fiction. It read really easy and it was a light story, but it still kept me interested until the last page. In all honesty, this is the perfect book to pick up when you just want a fun story.
3.5 out of 5 stars.