Aug 29, 2016

Review: Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

TitleLove & Gelato
Author: Jenna Evans Welch
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publishing Date: May 3, 2016
Pages/Format: 390, Hardcover
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“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.

Book in One Word: Cuteee

Contemporaries have been a hit or miss (especially the latter) for me this year, and that bums me out. They can be a nice break from fantasy adventures, dystopian battles, and paranormal entities. Sometimes you just need to leave those worlds and enter a somewhat real one for a bit. I don't know if it's because I'm getting older (where's my one-way ticket to Neverland?) or if it's because majoring in Professional and Creative Writing ruined me (maybe I'm just a snob now), but I've been getting picky with stories if they're not realistic or things happen too fast and there's not enough show of progression--and contemporaries have been the main victims. Fortunately for Love & Gelato, it's one of the few contemporaries I've read this year that actually worked.

After Lina's mother is suddenly diagnosed with terminal cancer, she has one wish for her daughter: that she'll go to Italy to live with the father she's only just now hearing about. So she moves from Seattle to Italy, leaving one altered life for another, and finds herself living in a cemetery in a whole new world with Howard, a man she knows nothing about. It's also there that she's given a journal her mother kept while she was in Italy sixteen years prior, and when Lina opens it she finds an interesting sentence: "I made the wrong choice." Lina reads the journal, learning things she never knew about the mother she thought she knew, while going on Italian adventures, making friends, possibly finding romance, eating gelato, and getting to know her father along the way.

I can't say that I really want to go to Italy because every non-cute movie or story set there has some girl getting kidnapped and murdered, but Love & Gelato instilled a sort of wanderlust within me. I'm not the biggest traveler--I'm more of a homebody. But after going to San Diego earlier this year and seeing just a smidgeon of it--and falling somewhat in love with it--I've wanted to hop on a plane and go places. Love & Gelato, too, made we want to go somewhere, to embark on an adventure and explore foreign worlds and vivid cultures, leaving my comfort zone while also getting to eat a lot of delectable food and see all the beautiful things. And I really, really liked that.

One of my favorite things with any book is when I start reading it and can tell from page one that I'm probably going to like it based on voice alone. Love & Gelato is one of those books. I was immediately pulled in by the voice, and I love it when voice pulls me in, especially right away. It's that perfect kind of voice in a contemporary, one that's not overly exaggerated but that isn't too deep and serious either. The story was like that, too. It was definitely on the lighter side, but it still had its moments. (And, like, I cried? I wasn't exactly expecting that.) And the voice stayed pretty consistent throughout and really helped to establish Lina as a character, which was great.

Love & Gelato was also rather strong with its characters, namely Lina, Ren, and Howard. Lina's an average girl in a super unfortunate situation--dead mom, apparent father, brand new country to call home, living in a cemetery (oh, hell no)--but she handles it really well. She goes for her mother, but it could end up being for herself, too. She makes friends faster than I would though, especially in such a foreign place. But thank gosh she befriends Ren, who, though he may not be the studliest of Italians, is utterly winning in the personality department. (I love characters like him.) Then there's Howard, who acts nothing like a guy who's suddenly had a kid thrust upon him. He's an actual good guy, and I adore him (and Ren) and just want everything to work out okay for him. Honestly, he and Ren could have used more page time, more time establishing and building their relationship with Lina. But I also appreciated how Welch was able to bring more secondary, minor characters to life and give them dimension, which is always a bonus.

It's always pleasant to be able to go into a book and get pulled in by so many elements: voice, writing, characters, setting, plot. Love & Gelato had all of that. It's the kind of contemporary that's nice and sweet and simple, the right amount of fluff with the right amount of depth. (And hey--I literally devoured this in one sitting in the middle of the night, and that doesn't happen often.) If Jenna Evans Welch decides to write more contemporaries, you won't hear me complaining. Love & Gelato hit the spot. Possibly like a cone of genuine Italian gelato. If I had any idea what that tastes like that.

Did I like it? Yes!
Did I love it? Not quite.
Would I reread it? Sure!
Would I purchase it? It was gifted to me, and I'm excited because I've been wanting this so I could finally read it.
Who would I recommend it to? If you like spot-hitting contemporaries with foreign settings, cute romance, a nice cast of characters, and strong voice, then voila!


  1. I have seen this cover before and thought it was adorable! Thanks for the review! I think you convinced me to read it! :D I am not a big traveler either, but I wish I was. If only I had more money....

  2. I haven't seen to many reviews of this for some reason... But, I'm glad to hear that it does sound good, and contemporary isn't my go to genre. Great review!

  3. That cover is really really cute! I'm happy you liked the book <3


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