I’ve never traveled to another country. Wait, no. I’ve been to Canada! And it was lovely! 😄 But I’ve never been to another continent, and I’ve never had a passport. (It’s clearly been a while since I’ve been to Canada, considering they began requiring passports in 2007… 😅) I think this is why I’m always interested in reading about other countries. And Jenna Evans Welch’s Love & Gelato allowed me to do just that, all while enjoying a super-cute love story set in the stunning city of Florence, Italy. I think fans of Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and Stephanie Perkins’ Anna and the French Kiss will fall head over heels in love with Lina, her friends, and beautiful, historic Florence.
Not sure what this book is about? You can find a short synopsis here!
And while I’ve tried to keep this review spoiler-free, one of my dislikes is a little spoiler-y, so just keep that in mind!
What I Liked:
- This book made me want to travel to Italy immediately. 😍 From the gorgeous scenery to the incredible food (I lost count of how many times I felt hungry while reading this book), I could absolutely imagine being there. I do wish we had been able to see more of Rome, but I was perfectly happy with Welch’s descriptions of Florence.
- I love that this isn’t just a love story, but also a mystery. Having been given one of her mother’s old journals, Lina is trying to follow in her footsteps and unravel the secrets Hadley was never able to share. I’ll try not to spoil the big reveal, but I think the ending resolves things pretty well, and Lina seems to get some of the closure she’s been searching for.
- This book was compulsively readable, at least for me. Like gelato, it was hard to put down, and I think readers who enjoy YA contemporaries and adorable romances will feel similarly. It can feel predictable at times, but it’s a familiar sort of predictable that carries you through the story. Even though you can probably guess how it will end, the journey is still worthwhile.
- I think Welch handled Lina’s grief very deftly. It never seemed over-the-top or unrealistic. It’s hard to imagine how she felt, losing her only parent and feeling adrift in a world that suddenly seems darker. But I like that we were given glimpses of the pain she carries with her, and how it can feel dull one minute and sharp and lingering the next.
What I Disliked:
- If you’re not a fan of “insta-love” stories, you maaaay feel a little frustrated while reading this book. 😬 Lina’s romance with Ren develops over the course of just a few days, to the point where they both say they love each other. While I don’t want to be the person that yells from the rooftops, “LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT IS A LIE!” I do think that everything moved too quickly to be entirely realistic. Also, I was getting some clichéd Cinderella vibes near the end, and while it was still cute, it was almost too cute.
- I know Lina’s still a teenager, and she probably wasn’t thinking too much about the situation, but what she does to Thomas is really crappy. She basically agrees to go on a date with him, but only so she can find Ren at the party and confess her feelings to him. 😐 On top of that, she wears “The Dress,” and I’m sure poor Thomas thinks it’s all for him, when it really isn’t. I liked Lina a lot overall, but she uses Thomas. She knows what she did is wrong — she says it was “lame” of her. But despite his shortcomings, Thomas isn’t a bad guy, and he honestly deserved better.
- Some of the timelines were hard to keep track of. While Hadley’s journal entries were dated, I struggled to keep up with how much time was passing in the present day. As it turns out, not much. 🤔 This is a story that seems like it should have played out over a longer span of time, not just a few days.
Overall, I think this YA romance is definitely worth checking out, especially if you’re a sucker for love stories so sweet, they feel like cotton candy melting in your mouth. ❤️ And now is a great time to read Love & Gelato since its companion novel, Love & Luck, comes out on May 8th! It follows Lina’s best friend Addie as she travels to Ireland. 🍀