The surprise was all mine! This book was listed on Southern Living Magazine’s The Best New Books of Summer 2017, so I never ever considered that an adult was not exactly the audience that Welch had intended. I was halfway through Love & Gelato, when I flipped it over and saw the words “visit us at simonandshuster.com/teen.” Now I know why I thought that it was interesting (i.e., odd) that the main character of the book was a teenager and the plots lacked the depth of other novels I had read this summer. Now I know. I was not the intended reader.
Despite not being the intended audience, I enjoyed the story, I truly did. Meet Lina, a teenage girl, whose only parent that she has ever known dies. As result of her mother’s wishes, she moves to Italy for the summer, to live with a stranger, her Mother’s old friend, named Howard. Within a few short days of living in Florence, she unlocks the untold secrets of her mother’s past and unravels the beginnings of her own existence. This book wraps up with a nice big bow of a multiple happy endings with Lina coming to terms with the loss of her mother and gaining love in multiple capacities in her life.
I have to applaud Welch, and any adult authors for that matter who write stories aimed at a teenage audience. How difficult it must be to put aside your adult experiences and tell a story through the eyes of a teenager. I imagine, for an adult, it must be like trying to create a piece of art with playdoh or coloring a dog magenta, in a coloring book. I find it difficult to find my inner child and take things, as an adult, out of true reality. There are no magenta dogs so you cannot color them magenta. I find reality skews my own perspective…what we know or have experienced changes the way we are able to see things. Although I enjoyed the story, it was really difficult to read a book written for teenagers, from the lenses of my 40+ year-old eyes. I found it difficult to replace the cynic of my older, wiser self, with the hopeful, faithful wonder of a teenage girl…to believe that such happy-ending outcomes exist for the long-term. My lens has become jaded by what happens after the perceived happy ending. Maybe my lesson from this innocent read should be to strive to live in such wonder of being present and enjoying the moment, to reconnect with my teenage self, where everything and anything is possible.