Review: One Italian Summer by Keris Stainton

My Rating: 3.75 / 5

Goodreads Average Rating: 4.3 / 5 One Italian Summer

When I requested this book from netgalley it was solely based on the cover and the Italian setting. I took one look at it and thought “That looks like a perfectly fluffy contemporary that will give me all the happies.” It made me smile and it made me laugh just like I expected. What I didn’t expect was to cry not once, not twice, but three times. This book hit me in the feels so hard.

This book follows three sisters and their mom on a trip to Italy. They travel to Rome almost every summer to visit family, but this year they are going without their recently deceased father. We watch as each girl grieves and learns to live again after the tragedy. It’s a heartwarming tale of sisterhood set against a beautiful Italian backdrop.

 

 

The Good

The sisters are characters I couldn’t help but fall for. So often in YA family takes a backseat and the stories are more about friendships and romance. I love a good family story, especially a family as enviable as this one. The sisters are so much more than sisters. They support one another no matter what. They cheer each other on and push one another to go outside their comfort zone. They truly are best friends.

I don’t think I can even call Jules my best friend any more – we barely speak outside of school…..My sisters have always been my best friends really.

I also loved how different each of the sisters were from each other. They each had clearly defined personalities, which I think added to the overall chemistry and dynamic between the three. Elyse is the cool and collected one. She flirts with boys but never falls too hard or embarrasses herself. She’s obsessed with fashion, but not in a shallow way. More like she knows it’s her passion and she has all her life. Leonie, the youngest, is the wild child. She has no filter and says whatever comes to mind. She’s always down for the party and always around to cheer you up. Milly, the narrator and middle child, is the responsible one. She’s the one who worries. She craves order and structure. Together they perfectly balance one another.

The parents are not only present, but still madly in love. Flashbacks to the parents and the love they shared choked me up more than anything. Parents rarely shine in YA and when they do they are basically used a plot device. They’re simply there to say no or to ground the child. Its hard to imagine parents having their own lives. That wasn’t the case here. We are constantly reminded of how in love their parents were. All three sisters are seeking true love and they know they deserve it because they grew up witnessing it every day.

I remember noticing Mum watching Dad and she looked so proud. I knew how much she loved him. He must have noticed her too because when he scored a goal – a completely ridiculous one that bounced off the shed door and knocked over a plant pot – he ran over and picked her up and twirled her around.

I fell in love with every character, even the dad who’s already passed away. There are so many flashbacks, and even though we never meet their dad in the present, I felt like I knew him through their memory. He was an amazing dad and husband and even after his death he seems to be teaching the girls how to live life.

He was really good at doing things that made him happy. 

He lived every moment to the fullest. He ate what he wanted to eat, drank what he wanted to drink, and laughed with abandon. All throughout the book you meet people and learn how he touched their lives. He definitely lived a life worth trying to live up to.

The Bad

The writing/storytelling was just ok for me. At times I was totally sucked into the story but other times it felt sort of cheesy or cliche. This was especially true with the romance. I liked how open Milly was about her physical attraction to Luke, but after awhile it seemed like she only liked him because he was a gorgeous specimen. I needed a little more depth to their relationship, especially when it was juxtaposed against the heavier themes of loss and grief.

There were also some issues with pacing. All though it is an extremely short book and a very quick read, there were times I felt the pace lull and I became easily distracted. I wanted to see the girls go on some adventures or get in a bit of trouble. This finally happens at the tail end of the story but its used more as a plot device to bring Luke and Milly together. They’re in Italy. Shenanigans should have ensued at least once or twice instead of just meandering walks through the sleepy village.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this to fans of contemporary. It would be a perfect summer read. Grab a copy for you and your sister and head to the beach together for a day of reading. Just remember to bring tissues.

xo,

Nikki

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