Wednesday 21 February 2018

Book Review: Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

Last Updated: 13 July 2021

Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch book cover

AD* | “I made the wrong choice.”

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 she 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 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.

Perhaps it wasn't the wisest choice to set about reading a warm, summery story in the middle of winter, but there we are - that's exactly what I did. While those lovely summer's evenings may still be a long way away, what better time to dream of warmer climes than in the depths of winter's grasp?

As regular readers of The Writing Greyhound will undoubtedly have realised by now, I am a massive lover of Young Adult literature. It's my favourite genre (if you can class an intended audience as a genre, though that's a post for another time) but one I don't get to read nearly as often as I would ideally like. So, I went into Love & Gelato with no expectations but a mind ready to devour some of my favourite type of fiction - a winning combination, as it turned out!

Sweet and romantic, Love & Gelato is an outstanding example of Young Adult writing at its best. The author has managed to completely capture the essence and spirit of her young protagonists, making it all too easy for the reader to see the world through their eyes. Even if you have never travelled to Italy, the sights, sounds and visions painted of Florence are clear to see, made all the more special by the fact that they are seen through a multitude of different perspectives.

The description in this book is stunning. It's not too out-there or ostentatious; instead, it is subtly done, weaving a picture of the scene in your mind's eye - it seems almost as real as though you are there yourself!

However, it's not just the impressive descriptions and beautiful setting that make this book a hit. The characters themselves are a real mishmash of conflicting emotions and hidden feelings, ensuring each individual is as three-dimensional and realistic as possible. From shy Howard to charming Ren and the infectious confidence of Elena, each character has their own set of unique traits to bring to the table. And, of course, we can't forget about our main character. Lina is a girl facing an impossibly difficult situation yet somehow, she still manages to make the best of everything that life throws at her. She takes everything in her stride and does her best to improvise and accommodate, something which I admire greatly.

Of course, despite all this, the real crux of the story focuses on one young girl's journey to discover her late mother's past. Alternating between achingly bittersweet and gorgeously romantic, Love & Gelato is a perfect summer (or winter!) read.

Rating: 4 stars

Love & Gelato is available to buy now.

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* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Have you read the book? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!

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