Now that I have an hour-plus drive each way to school four days a week, I’ve had the opportunity to delve into a form of literature until now unfamiliar: audiobooks. Being a visual learner, and a fan of annotation, this requires some adjustment. The first morning, I tried scribbling notes on a pad on the passenger seat. Then, seeing as that’s dangerous for me and others involved, I resigned to make any notes after I’d gotten to my destination.

My first complete audiobook experience was Love and Gelato, written by Jenna Evans Welch and read on Audible.com by Rebekkah Ross. This review will dually be about the novel and the experience of having an entire book read to me. Let’s get into it! 

First off, some of the adjustments that come with audiobooks. Like I said, you can’t take notes; so remembering plot lines required me to mentally review everything I’d heard once I’d arrived. The one major plus in having it read to you, however, are the voices: I actually found myself attached to the characters more because I could anticipate hearing them speak in distinct tones. That was an enjoyable aspect for me. Additionally, having the chapters denoted made me feel like I was getting through the book; and with audiobooks, you can know exactly how much time you have left: a useful feature for planning out drives in order to finish. Lastly, it makes traffic and long hours in the car seem not so frustrating/boring!

Love and Gelato is the young adult romance story of a high school girl named Lina Emerson. When her mother dies of pancreatic cancer, she’s sent to live with a man she’s only recently starting hearing about: Howard. Howard is the tenant of a World War II memorial outside of Florence, Italy; and a cemetery is the last place Lina wants to spend her summer. In addition to that, she’s not crazy about the idea of reading a journal of her mother’s that shows up at the cemetery: she’s already experienced enough heartache. But, of course, she’s in Italy, and things are never as terrible as she expects them to be. Mysteries unfold as she starts to explore the world and the journal.

While most of the secondary characters—especially Lina’s potential classmates—are disappointingly one-dimensional, the main characters make up fairly well for that. One of the things I always find myself pointing out about well-written young adult or science fiction books is the imagery: Love and Gelato isn’t an exception. Welch’s descriptions are simple, but charming; and she has a lot to work with, as the story roams through Florence, Rome, and Italian landscapes. While some descriptions are prefaced with cliché lines along the lines of It was pretty; no, I mean, really pretty, the imagery itself, again, kind of made up for it. Also, Lina’s a cross country running, food-loving young woman, and I identify with her! 

The plot built gradually, and the action mounted at a pace that produced truly dramatic scenes and effective emotions. Lina was never so pathetic that I completely lost sympathy for her; most of her reactions seemed appropriate, if par for the course for the stereotypical teenage protagonist: she had standoffish moments, a curious outlook, and the occasional spell of running away from problems quite literally. The one nuance that irked me was Lina’s tendency to lead the reader to think she was going to do something, and at the last second, deciding not to go through. Once or twice, this is understandable; after a while, it seemed emotionally manipulative.

This story was lighthearted and sweet—like gelato, of course—all the way through. It was a prime first audiobook because it didn’t require loads of intellectual intensity to follow. At the same time, it had a plot, characters I grew to care about, and beautiful descriptions of both aesthetic beauty and emotional depth. If you’re in search of a therapeutic young adult romance that still contains depth of emotion, try Love and Gelato. If you can’t get it bound and run your fingers over its pages, try the audiobook version. 🙂 

Let me know what you guys are reading. What do you think about audiobooks? Have you ever read one? Leave me a comment!

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