Goodreads: Love and Gelato
Published: May 2016
Before Lina’s mother dies, she insists that Lina go to live with her old friend Howard in Italy. Somehow she forgot to tell Lina what her grandmother does–that Howard is really her father. Lina doesn’t want to live with a man she barely knows. And she certainly doesn’t want to stay in Italy, even if it is beautiful. But then she receives her mother’s old journal and she’s suddenly experiencing Florence for the first time along with her mom. As Lina continues to read, however, things don’t seem to be adding up. Why did her mom leave Italy? And who is Howard, anyway?
Love and Gelato is one of those books where there would have been no book had the protagonist simply taken a sensible course of action at the start. It creates a sense of “mystery” by refusing to have Lina ask Howard about his relationship with her mother. Instead, Lina chooses to “hear it from her mom first” by reading her mother’s journal. Conveniently very slowly so that she never has the information she needs in time. The funniest thing of all? Lina’s not very astute when it comes to putting things together. The journal tells her everything she needs to know–removing all mystery and suspense from the plot–but Lina conveniently misinterprets everything so the story can progress.
If you are willing to overlook the mediocre plotting, the book still has much to offer. The Italian setting, the sweet romance, and the father-daughter relationship between Howard and Lina will likely melt your heart. It’s a treat to explore Florence together with Lina and her new friend Ren even if the history lessons are a bit heavy-handed. Add the gelato and the promise of secret bakeries and you have a recipe to appeal to the sweet tooth of many a reader! (Spoiler alert: Unfortunately the secret bakeries are barely in the book, despite the book cover’s suggestion that they play a prominent role.)
The structure of the book ultimately disappoints. I think the mark of an excellent writer is the ability to create a plot that does not rely on the stupidity of its characters to progress. However, I’m sure many readers will not mind the plotting as long as they get to see Lina and Ren slowly fall in love.