Love & Gelato

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Italy is another county that’s on my to do list to visit. Not only because of the beautiful places that I’ve heard about, but also because of my Italian roots: my great-grandparents emigrated to the United States from Sicily over 100 years ago. The author of Love & Gelato, Jenna Evans Welch, spent her high schools years in Tuscany.

This novel follows sixteen-year-old Carolina “Lina” Emerson, who grew up with her single mother in the United States, having never known her father, whom her mother had met while an art student in Italy. When her mother suddenly dies from cancer, Lina reluctantly goes to live with her father in Tuscany for the summer. There, she receives the journal her mother kept during her time as a student there. Lina uses the journal to follow in her mother’s footsteps, exploring the countryside and making new friends in the process.

There were plenty of good qualities about this book; the description of the scenery and how Lina process her emotions while dealing with culture shock, the unfamiliarity of a new place and meeting the father she never knew. I liked how Welch used Lina’s mother’s journal as a way to have Lina connect with her mother’s experiences, it reminded me of reading my grandfather’s old letters from when he lived in D.C., the city where I now live.

However, I feel like these qualities were what made up for the slightly cliched plot. There is a love subplot that I found predictable and the twist that I was able to guess after just a few chapters. Still, I do recommend this solid debut from Welch and am looking forward to reading more of her work in the future.

 

 

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The Inside of Out

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My experience with the topic of gay marriage began when I was in college. During the summer of 2011, New York State passed the law making same-sex marriage legal in the state. I was a college intern for my hometown paper, and I remember speaking to one of the pastors of the local churches about the subject for an article I wrote. It was interesting to see the different perspectives on the matter. Four years later, on June 26, 2015, same-sex marriage became federally legal in the United States. Since then, mediums that involve gay and lesbian relationships have become mainstream. The Inside of Out by American author Jenn Marie Thorne centers on this topic.

Daisy Beaumont-Smith is sixteen and best friends with Hannah von Linden. When Hannah comes out to Daisy as a lesbian, Daisy isn’t surprised about it, only to find out that Hannah is dating Daisy’s number one enemy. As a way to cope with the situation, Daisy volunteers to help the LGBTQIA club at their high school throw a homecoming of their own after the school’s refusal to lift a ban barring same-sex couples from dances. A local college reporter, Adam, soon takes an interest in her cause and writes an article on it, only to have it go viral and be picked up by major news outlets. Daisy soon finds herself the unofficial spokesperson of the event and in the limelight. With people under the impression that she herself is gay, she struggles to maintain her facade and at the same time contemplate her friendship with Hannah.

What I liked the most about this novel was the exploration of friendships and relationships in the LGBTQIA community. I myself grew up in a mostly Republican town, where this topic wasn’t one talked about too often, not even in my high school. Being able to read a novel that offered insight into what it’s like was refreshing and interesting. Thorne’s writing ability made the story believable, and I especially liked how she focused on how Daisy and Hannah’s friendship dynamic is affected by Hannah’s revelation. It was a nice change from the usual plot device where the boyfriend is usually affecting the friend’s relationship.

I did feel like the novel was a bit long, at 425 pages, and there were several scenes that could have been omitted or shortened. Still, I definitely recommend this book, as it takes on a major societal cause.