🚨SPOILER ALERT 🚨
RATING :: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED :: MAY 3 2016
PIBLISHER :: SIMON PULSE
PAPERBACK :: 400pgs
AUTHOR :: JENNA EVANS WELCH
GENRE :: YA FICTION
“You know, people come to Italy for all sorts of reasons, but when they sat, it’s for the same two things.”
“Love and gelato.”
A huge turn of events for 16 year-old Lina; her mother- Hadley- has passed away, she’s being sent to Italy to live with her father, whom she NEVER knew about until after her mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and now she’s discovering the part of her mother’s story that she’s never heard about before with surprising twists and uncomfortable turns.
Together, she and her new friend Ren, whom she starts taking a special liking to, read her mother’s journal which hold the answers to Lina’s origins, her mother’s young adult life in Italy, and the mystery behind her parent’s short-lived romance.
Will Lina discover more than she bargained for? And will she choose to stay in Italy and give her estranged father a try, or go back home?
I guess I had expected this book to be based more on a fairy tale romance that blooms in the beautiful city of Florence with minor adversity…
…but wow! I was greatly impressed with the story!
The mystery surrounding the plot was well written. Although I felt 5 days (in the story) seemed like such a short time for everything- from the romance between Ren and Lina, to uncovering the secrets of Lina’s mother’s romantic relationship with her college professor, and Lina coming to terms with her new life in Italy- to come together, I liked how everything built up nicely till the very last chapter… in other words, the story did not feel rushed nor did it feel as if though it was lagging.
Hadley- Lin’s mom- at first came off as selfish and foolish (in a certain way she was, for the actions she committed when she was younger) for not telling Lina the truth about her father, but I couldn’t help feeling sympathy when it was revealed why she kept Lina away from her TRUE father. Her sacrifice proves that she realized how big of a mistake she had made.
I really enjoyed reading about the relationship between Hadley and Matteo, Lina’s real father and her mother’s college professor. Although their relationship is a bit depressing to read, it was entertaining because of the mystery and complications/controversy surrounding it.
Side note: I kept wondering to myself where I had seen a similar story involving a love triangle like the one in the book… and then I remembered that I’d watched a movie years ago called El Estudiante (The Student), a Spanish Drama.
I felt Lina & Ren’s relationship started off well, but it didn’t offer much spark in terms of romance, nor a proper foundation to start one. They’d only known each other for 5 days, and by the end of the story, they’re already saying ‘I love you.’ I felt their relationship escalated too quickly. Good thing this is only a fiction novel; if they were real life characters, I’d have told Lina to grieve the loss of her mother properly and then, once emotionally stable, pursue a relationship. Their story would have made sense if they’d known each other for months and then they realized they liked each other, but, instead, Lina starts falling for Ren (even kissing him before she can stop herself or even realize what she’s doing) and still attempts to persuade him to give her a shot… never mind that he is actually seeing someone else. (Not cool in my book.) As for Ren, who has a jealous, controlling girlfriend, he finds himself falling for Lina within only 5 days of knowing her and has difficulty being honest with himself over his new found romantic feelings for a girl he just met, and the girl whom he pursued for a long time and finally scored the chance to date her. Their love story is fun to read, but it’s ultimately not the real reason I enjoyed this book.
Howard is definitely the hero of the story. His love for Lina’s mom is evident- he hasn’t been with anyone since Hadley, he forgives her for the heartache she caused him when she left, and he takes Lina and adopts her as his daughter even though he is fully aware that he isn’t her real father. Although he’s a bit awkward in the beginning (and lives in a cemetery, which I found to be super creepy), he proves that he truly cares for Lina and consistently attempts to help her feel comfortable, even when she refuses to discuss important topics. He becomes the kind of dad that over-protective parents would most likely frown upon- he allows Lina to go to a party that she doesn’t even feel comfortable attending, he lets her roam the city of Florence with a boy she just met (even though he scares the crap out of Ren so he won’t try anything funny), and he offers her so much freedom which allows her to go as far as Rome to find her real father, without him having a clue as to where she’s at. Yet, overall, he proves to be a selfless and loving character throughout the entire story. It only sucked that even though he’s able to rekindle his relationship to Lina’s mom during her final moments of life, and then takes on the responsibility of caring after Lina, he still winds up alone. Couldn’t help feeling sorry for the guy. And I do wish he’d at least gone up to see Matteo to punch him right in the face for the way he spoke about Lina and her mom.
Speaking of Matteo, one of the reasons I was a tad bit disappointed with the story was because I never discovered why he bothered to keep the portraits of Lina in his gallery. He denies he’s Lina’s father, proves he still hasn’t stopped being a poor excuse of a man, and he lies about his relationship with Lina’s mom. It is also never really revealed what happened to the other student whom he was also seeing around the time that he was with Hadley. The other student, who failed to tell Hadley what a two-timing jerk Matteo really was, takes Hadley to see a psychic in an attempt to find out about their future with Matteo. Hadley, of course, doesn’t know Matteo has been seeing the other student behind her back and is confused as to why she’s being taken to the psychic. The psychic tells them both about their future, without telling them exactly what was going to happen. After this, you don’t read much about the other student or what even happens to her and her relationship with Matteo. And as for Matteo… seriously, this guy deserved a beating or some form of unhappy ending that the reader could be satisfied with.
I’ve never really known much about the city of Florence, but the description that the author used could almost be imagined. She describes some of the historical parts/architect of Florence with great detail. Also, that I remember, I’ve never tried Gelato. So after reading this book, I’ve been on a mission to find me some… although I’m sure that going to Italy and trying Gelato there would be something I’d definitely add to my bucket list.
I truly enjoyed reading this book; it was an easy read, and it definitely grabbed my attention. I wouldn’t mind reading it again a second time. The only reason why I only gave it 4 stars instead of 5 was because I’d have preferred seeing the story unfold within a period of a few months instead of 5 days. Plus, the relationship between Ren and Lina felt kinda boring; felt like it was lacking in ways I cannot describe.
Still, the book is worth reading!
Thanks for dropping by and reading my review!