One Italian Summer by Keris Stainton
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Release Date: May 4, 2017
Summary: It’s been a year since Milly, Elyse and Leonie’s dad died, and a year since their last trip to Rome. Summer’s here again, and once again they are heading with their mum to Italy – but what’s it going to be like going without Dad? Rome still holds its familiar charms – the sun is still as warm, the gelato as delicious, the people as welcoming. But nothing is quite as it once was …
With grief still raw for all of them, Milly is facing the additional awfulness of having to see Luke again – gorgeous, gorgeous Luke, who she had a fling with last year, and who she made a total fool of herself with – or so she thinks. What’s going to happen this time? What’s more, things between Milly, her sisters and their mum are rocky – Leonie is being tempestuous and unpredictable, Elyse is caught up with her new boyfriend, and Milly feels like she just doesn’t know how she fits in any more.
Over one Italian summer, can Milly find a way back to the life she once had?
My Rating:★★★☆☆ ½
My Thoughts: One Italian Summer is an emotional YA Contemporary that discusses grief, shows the strong bond between sisters, as they take a trip to Italy for a relative’s wedding!
This book was super difficult to rate, because there were so many great elements to it!
For the most part, the story focused on the sisters (Milly, Elise, and Leonie) and their relationship/dynamic which I loved! I don’t usually see much of that YA!
From the very first page its clear that there’s a strong bond between all 3 of them and that really shows as the story progresses. The beginning of the novel was definitely my favorite. There’s so much great development and set up that made the novel start off very strong!
Additionally, the sisters discuss sex/sex positivity throughout the novel which is something I don’t think I’ve ever read in YA before! Overall it was great for the sisters to have those discussions honestly throughout the novel.
Milly, the middle sister, narrates the story as the girls + their mother head to Italy for their aunt Alice’s wedding. However, grief is felt by the sisters (especially their mother) as its the first time they are returning to Italy without their father.
Throughout the novel, there is a heavy theme of grief as the girls (mainly Milly + their mother), while in Italy are finding it difficult to enjoy their trip and be happy for Alice, while so much of the trip reminds them of Dominic. It added so much to the story to see grief tackled by the sisters + mother in different ways to see how it impacted them/how they were coming to accept his death.
I adored the originality of this story and Stainton did a fantastic job at keeping the plot unique and engaging.
However, in terms of setting and getting the atmosphere of Italy, I wasn’t really getting it. While this novel is very character driven (which was great), setting/atmosphere didn’t feel as developed as I was hoping. (In terms of delivering more/equal development on characters + Italian setting, I personally felt Jenna Evans Welch’s Love & Gelato did a much better job)
The writing was good, however I did find the writing to be quite choppy at times. But overall Stainton’s writing really delivered well on a strong theme/delivery of grief and sister bonding.
As the story progresses, its revealed that Milly had a crush on Luke (her cousin Toby’s best friend) and its revealed that there was something that happened between them when they last visited Italy.
While the romance wasn’t necessarily bad, I felt it took up a huge part of the plot in very different places throughout which made it very difficult to get a fully developed story when every other page Milly kept talking about wanting to hook up/be with Luke.
I did enjoy the later 1/4 of book much more as Milly and Luke are able to talk more and finally say whats on their mind, but I really didn’t like how the romance began to over shadow the main plot. It really felt like an uneven balance with the romance/plot in general for me personally.
As for the rest of the story regarding the wedding + the girls enjoying Italy that was great! I wish there was more of that, instead of such a heavy focus on the romance.
Apart from that, I really did like this book and recommend it if your looking for a summer contemporary!
One Italian Summer is a book to read if your looking for a great contemporary that focuses on grief and the strong bond between sisters. While the romance can seem like such a heavy part of the story, the engaging plot and characters make this an enjoyable summer read!