By: Cait Marie
“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 go 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 her, 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.
This book has been on my TBR for years. YEARS. So, when I saw the movie released on Netflix, I decided to finally jump in because I needed to read the book before watching it.
I’m so mad I put it off as long as I did. It’s such a good story, with that perfect blend of lightness we seek in YA romance and emotional points that tug on the heartstrings. I couldn’t stop reading (or rather, listening since I used the audiobook). I had all the butterflies and goosebumps that come with a good romance.
It was a tad predictable, even the couple of twists that were thrown out there, but I think that’s more on me than the author. I’ve read and written so many YA books at this point that I can spot the foreshadowing like it’s my job (though, it kind of is–I’m an editor as well). This in no way impacted my enjoyment of the book.
Lina was a relatable and likable character. She’s going through an immense amount of grief, trying to figure out what her life is now that her mother has passed. She’s also trying to learn more about her mother’s life before she was born and why she’d left Italy. It was quite an emotional book; it made me tear up more than once. All of the side characters were well written too. Though, I will admit I wish some things would’ve been fleshed out a little more. There were some, such as Howard’s friend that co-runs the cemetery and a few of the friends that Lina made, who felt a little incomplete. I wanted to know more about them and why they did certain things.
Her friendship with Ren started awkwardly, but it developed so naturally. I truly loved seeing them grow together.
The ending felt a little off to me, a little rushed. It’s not a love triangle story per se, but there is another potential love interest. And without giving too much away, at the end, her actions don’t entirely make sense to me. Explanation in the spoiler section below.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it to those who like YA romance. It’s sweet and simultaneously angsty, with a dash of mystery as she tries to figure out her mother’s past. I’ll be reading the rest of the series right away. Well, after I watch this movie, of course!
All right, so what kind of bothered me about the ending…
She distinctly realizes it’s Ren she loves and makes a big deal of getting all dressed up to win him over at this party. Yet, she goes to the party with Thomas. And it would’ve been one thing if she’d wanted to use him to make Ren jealous (not a nice thing, but it would’ve made sense) or if she went with him because it was the only way to get into the exclusive party, but none of that was a consideration. It felt almost like something she’d have done if still unsure who she liked more, except she’d already made this big decision.
Thomas also changes pretty drastically in the end. He’d been the sweet, dreamy boy throughout the whole book, though he only appeared a few times. And then, at the end, he’s very pushy and almost forceful with Lina.
It just felt like their actions in these chapters didn’t go with their personalities. It didn’t align with the rest of the book.