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Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

February 3, 2021

Sixteen-year-old Lina has always lived with her mother. But after her mom dies of cancer, Lina fulfills her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father by spending the summer in Italy, where he lives. Howard, her mom’s friend, gives Lina a journal that her mother wrote while she was in Italy as a young adult. As she reads her mother’s journal entries, Lina discovers a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries. With the help of Ren, a boy she meets in Italy, she uncovers a secret that will change everything that she knew about her mother, her father, and even herself.

Love and Gelato is a very fast-paced book because Evans Welch makes the plot unpredictable at times.The conflict is suspenseful because Lina wants to find her father, and Evans Welch made me wonder if she ever would find him. Evans Welch included excerpts from Lina’s mom’s journal, where her mom called her dad “X,” in order to keep his real identity secret. Readers will enjoy the suspenseful and unpredictable parts of this book

This book is written in first person, from Lina’s point of view, so it feels as if Lina is talking directly to the audience. The reader will get to know who Lina is, and maybe even relate to how she feels about being in a foreign country and not knowing who her father is. Evans Welch uses first-person narrative effectively because the audience only knows what Lina knows. When Lina arrives, she thinks that her dad is Howard, but after reading some of her mom’s journal entries in the journal she reconsiders her original theory. I loved how Evans Welch made both the reader and Lina wonder about her father’s real identity because it adds a lot to the tension of the plot.

Evans Welch uses simple, everyday language so that the reader can understand what’s happening to Lina and the other characters. Evans Welch also includes excerpts from Lina’s mom’s journal. Including excerpts from the journal is effective because the readers can read what Lina’s reading, and they can create their own theory along with Lina about who her father is.

The genre of Love and Gelato is realistic fiction, but it’s different from most novels I’ve read in that genre: this book has a tiny bit of mystery in the otherwise simple, uncomplicated plot. I loved how Evans Welch blended mystery into a realistic fiction book because it made Lina’s adventure in Italy and her quest to find her dad more intriguing. Readers will love this book and refuse to put it down because of the interesting plot and the mix of realism and mystery. 

Lina is a strong main character because she’s a very positive person, but sometimes she can’t face reality because she’s upset or scared. Evans Welch created amazing supporting characters, like Lina’s best friend, Addie, who is supportive and sympathetic; Lorenzo (Ren) who is nice and who Lina develops a crush on; Mimi, Ren’s jealous girlfriend who seems very mean, but softens up in the end; Howard, Lina’s mom’s friend, who is very nice and tries to get to know Lina; and finally, Sonya, Howard’s assistant at the cemetery where he works. These characters play a significant role in the book because they make the reader realize that friendship is important.  All of the characters have their own unique personalities, and I enjoyed getting to know each of them.

The themes of this book are friendship, romance, and having faith in yourself. When we first meet Lina, she’s not very confident but she learns more about herself and those around her over the course of the novel. Friendship plays a crucial role in this book because Ren and Addie really help Lina. 

I rated this book a nine out of ten because it was so suspenseful and mysterious. Fans of the movie Double Dad will enjoy this book because this story and the movie have the same premise of a girl not knowing who her dad is and wanting to find him. If you’re a fan of realistic fiction with a bit of mystery then you wouldn’t want to miss this book.


Simon Pulse, 389 pages.

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