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.