Love and Gelato is the first contemporary YA book I’ve read in a long while, and it was adorable. It made me want to go to Italy and do creative things and stuff my face with as much gelato and pasta and carbs as I could.
Since I’ve already started talking about the food part of the book, I’ll start my review there. I have an odd love for books that talk about food. Probably because I love food so much myself, I like it when characters talk about what they ate, and Lina definitely talks about the food. I especially want the nutella pastry she talks about because that sounds like heaven on earth. And the pasta she talks about. I just want pretty much all of it. Of course there’s gelato, too, and being a human person I want ALL of it, but the ones that they talk about most have all kinds of extra stuff added to them.
Which is all fine and good, I’m sure, for most people, but I’m not a huge fan of things being in my ice cream. I can only imagine it’s going to be the same with gelato.
Then there’s the boys, all of whom sound wonderful. Thomas is apparently an Abercrombie model-in-training, and that’s fine. I mean, it wouldn’t suck to spend a summer with a boy like that, especially when he’s got a British accent. Everyone loves a good British accent, right? Ren, though, was the guy I felt like Lina would be with. I mean, she meets him first, and he firmly inserts himself into her life like he’s supposed to be there. It just doesn’t seem like that’s something that would get taken lightly.
I did have a couple of issues with the book, though. Really, Jenna goes through parts where she’s trying to write like a teen would think, and really I don’t think I’ve met any teenager that would think like Jenna writes. You can see that the effort is there, it just doesn’t quite work as often as it could. It’s too generic and stereotypical of how adults believe teens think rather than how teens really think. Like, I’m pretty sure no one thinks “OMG” but, rather, “OH MY GOD.” No one thinks in text-speak. It’s just not really a thing that’s done. Some teens might talk in it, because I’ve heard that. Hell, I’ve done it. But if I think about it before I say it, I’m thinking the actual words, not the abbreviated version.
The other big one was that Lina always seemed…younger than she was supposed to be. She’s going to be a junior in high school, so she’s about 16, but sometimes she comes off as, like, 10. It’s strange really. I get that she loses her mom, and that couldn’t ever be an easy thing, but just some of her reactions to stuff and the way that she’s written come off way younger than that. And not in a way that could be attributed to grief. Also, for having lost her mother, her only parent, the woman that raised her by herself, only six months ago, she seems alarmingly together.
I think, really, that just the situation didn’t have enough time to breathe. Lina loses her mother, and then gets shipped off to Italy to live with a man she doesn’t know in a six month time frame and doesn’t really break down once. I guess maybe it’s just that I can’t relate to that? I know it would take a damn sight longer than six months for me to be as okay with losing my mom as Lina is, and throwing the living in a foreign country with a stranger bit would just make everything that much worse. But, though it is mentioned that she went under protest, Lina doesn’t seem to have fought going to Italy. Not hard at least.
All in All
This book was cute. It made me want to go to Italy, made me want to eat heaps of pasta and gelato and all things that aren’t quite good for me. I tore through it and I enjoyed it a lot. Contemporary isn’t usually my thing, at least I don’t read as much of it as I do fantasy, but I like dipping into it every once in a while. This is definitely the perfect Summer Book. It’s set during summer, it’s all in Italy, and the frequent use of actual Italian throughout the book (mostly in conversations) really puts you there. It’s not too complicated, where you can’t figure out what was said based on the context, but it’s enough that you feel like Lina would. A little out of the loop, a little thrown on being in a place where the main language isn’t one you speak.
So let’s talk! Have you read this one? What did you think? Also, what’s your favorite ice cream/gelato and why do I need to try it? (My favorite ice cream is chocolate chip cookie dough and nothing is going to change that. It’s the perfect combination of ice cream and cookies and it’s beautiful. I don’t think I’ve had enough gelato to say definitively what my favorite is, but it’s probably something chocolate.)