It may easily be argued that, for some, the genre of a book is almost as important as the book itself. Some people pick books based purely on the genre. But how does one discover the genre of a book? Think about it. While it may seem self-evident, depending upon where you find it in the library or on Amazon, it’s not usually found on the book’s cover, and not even necessarily in its title. If you’re aware of certain clues that point to a book’s genre, you can understand a lot about its intended audience. Jenna Evans Welch’s new book Love and Gelato is one such book: if you are a member of its intended audience, as specified by its publisher, you will love this book. Even if you’re not, you’ll still enjoy it.
I knew before I read it that it was a book for teens, just because the publisher’s URL referenced on the back cover was simonandschuster.com/teen. Knowing that made a big difference in how I read it. The prologue consisted of the main character’s mother’s diagnosis of a terminal and fast-moving illness, then skipped to the mother’s deathbed wish that said main character, Lina, go to Italy to stay with a man she’s never met but whom her mother trusts because he is apparently Lina’s father, and then dives right in with her arrival in Italy in chapter one. Its pacing, especially at the beginning, is, I think, reflective of Lina’s shock and denial about being in such a difficult, unexpected situation. It isn’t until later in the book that she begins to come to terms with her grief, and that reckoning and increase in maturity is an endearing thing to be a part of.
Indeed, if I could sum up the whole book in just one word, it would be “cute.” But then I would have to clarify that by saying that it is so because of its appeal to teenagers (especially girls), its pacing, and its wonderful voice. The dialogue sounded consistently authentic and humorous. There are rejoinders like this on almost every page:
“Odette grimaced. ‘I’m spending the summer pretending to be somewhere other than Italy.
Ren grinned. “How’s that working out for you? You know, with your Italian husband and children?”
I absolutely loved the humor in this book, as expressed in conversations like that and in Lina’s and her friend’s actions.
And, of course, the romance was fun. If you’re an adult looking to read about a serious, in-depth, marriage-inducing love, you won’t find it in this book, nor should you expect it, except for a smattering in her mother’s backstory. But it was still a joy to “watch” the blossoming of romantic feelings between Lina and a certain male character. The bumps and detours they experienced as their relationship developed made for a good plot.
So, if you have a teenage daughter, get this book for her right now. Keep in mind that there is a little bit of alcohol use, and various references to Lina’s illegitimacy. It does skim over the fact that Lina never knew her father while growing up with her mother, and never really questioned her father’s absence, but that may have been because of her afore-mentioned grief. Even if you’re not a teenager yourself, but are looking for a light summer read, you should read this. Enjoy it in the vein that it was written, with “love” and “gelato” used together in the title, almost as if they’re interchangeable. Because, when you’re young, sometimes they are.
Disclaimer: I was provided with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.