This story came highly recommended by a best friend of mine. I value her opinion on books and I know she loved it so I chose to give it a try. It pains me to report that while this is a super quick and cute read, I didn’t love it as much as I wanted to.
Lina packs her bags and heads to Italy to spend the summer with her Dad, Howard. This was the last request of her mother before she passed away from cancer. How can Lina say no? Lina barely knows her Dad but is willing to give this a try. She is going to be in Italy after all. Shortly after she arrives, she starts to settle in and is given a journal by her grandmother. It turns out to be her mother’s journal of the time she spent in Italy. Lina cannot believe her luck because this will help her figure out just who her mother was when she was younger and what caused her to leave Italy. Lina quickly begins reading and is pulled into the world of a young vibrant talented student with a very promising career in photography ahead of her. Lina is not alone on her journey to discover who her mother was, she has befriended a local boy, Ren. They become fast friends and soon realize that they want to be more than friends but unsure how to tell the other. As they continue to uncover mysteries laid out within the journal, Lina has the realization that her father might not be who she thinks he is. And she also starts to wonder if she will ever feel the type of romance her mother wrote about. Will things change for Lina and she discover the truth? Will she finally find the love she has read about?
I had a couple of issues with this story:
1) The beginning of the story really did start out of nowhere and it thrust Lina into Italy. Her mom said she needed to go to Italy because “she had such fond memories” and BOOM Lina was in Italy. It felt so incredibly sudden and awkward.
2) I understand the desire to want to know this part of your mom’s past, but how can these teenagers travel all over Italy and their parents not care? They went to Rome for a day and nobody knew about it. Plus, it all happened over the span of about one week. ONE WEEK. So much is uncovered and it took place in no time. That seemed really fast to me.
3) Here is the biggest thing that bothered me – Why was Lina, who is sixteen, so quick to want to fall in love? She said several times towards the end of the story that she really wanted to be able to experience the romantic feelings her mom wrote about. HONEY. You are SIXTEEN. Calm down! It will happen but there is no reason to force it when you are a teenager!
4) THE METAPHORS. This story is littered with them and they usually make no sense. Example:
“It’s a cemetery.” My voice was like weak tea.
Weak. Tea. Of everything you could compare your voice it, you came up with weak tea? I don’t even drink tea so I have zero clue what you are referring to. I have absolutely nothing to compare it to. Believe me when I say they didn’t stop there. They kept going throughout the entire book. Every single one of them caused me to roll my eyes and said, “What? What does that even mean?”
Unfortunately I never connected with any of the characters. That could be completely due to the narrator of the audio book or it could be because I had issues with the characters’ actions. Either way, I was on board with the adventure of figuring out who the mysterious “X” was in the journal, but I was not on board with sneaking around behind the back of the adults. I don’t know why that bothered me so much but it did. Lina did have her quirky? quick with the one-liners best friend back home in the States who pushed her to move in with her and her family. Cool and all but why was she so quick to take Lina away from the only family she has left. Plus when those two talked, they seemed like they would be the rude girls in school everyone would avoid.
I gave this book a fair chance because I finished it. When it was over, I did not have the warm fuzzy feelings everyone else did. If anyone is looking for a quick contemp read that will put you in the mood for gelato, this will be the book for you.