“Rome is so amazing for this. The most normal looking little streets-streets lined with mopeds and with washing strung between the buildings-and then the most incredible ancient and beautiful buildings.”
-Keris Stainton, One Italian Summer
Hey guys! I was recently sent a copy of One Italian Summer by Keris Stainton by the lovely people at Hot Key Books. One Italian Summer is sweet and heartbreaking all at once and I adored it.
Milly, Elyse and Leonie are three sisters and best friends that share everything. But lately, they’ve been struggling since the death of their father. The three of them, together with their parents used to spend the summer in Rome every year, visiting their dad’s family and old work place, but with him gone, their holiday will never be the same again. Still, there is a family wedding in Rome, along with plenty of Italian food, wine, parties and sun, sun, sun. Not to mention, Millie’s crush, Luke…
One Italian Summer is absolutely beautiful. It was refreshing to see three sisters so close to each other and being best friends; their exchanges and experiences together were the best part of this book for me. The book is seen through the POV of Milly, so it’s framed through her experiences in Rome and her relationships, although there is a lot of dialogue between the sisters throughout the book, so the reader gets a clear view of their characters from that. Milly was a great character, I loved reading about her crushing on Luke, the whole thing, down to her awkward interactions with him felt painfully accurate and was alternately cute and cringe-worthy to read about! Milly is about 18 in the book, and the middle child, so this is a good YA/NA crossover novel, particularly in how it portrayed sex and relationships and what Milly thought of them. That kind of female sex positivity is rarer in YA, and I think Keris Stainton did a great job in crafting Milly’s character.
Of course, there were the serious plot points of the sisters dealing with their grief, as well as each of them having doubts and concerns about their futures-Milly hasn’t handed in her university acceptance letter, and is second guessing where she wants to go and what she wants to do, while Elyse is contemplating getting her own place with her serious boyfriend, and I can’t tell you what’s going through Leonie’s mind, because spoilers! It was good to have this undertone cutting through the fluffier parts of the book, as it fleshed out each of the sisters’ characters and made them three-dimensional. It also lent a lot of heart to the book as we see them coming together as a family and dealing with the obstacles and challenges that life can throw at you together.
One thing I didn’t expect going into this book, was how heartbreaking it would be. I knew from the cover “Love, Loss, La Dolce Vita…” that there would be some coming to terms with grief, but I was deceived by the cover being pink and happy and carefree into thinking that this would be a cute, fluffy read! And while in some aspects, it was exactly that, it definitely packed a hefty emotional punch with it! As in, it made me cry HARD. And I don’t usually cry at books! This isn’t a negative, of course, I just wasn’t expecting it to hit me as hard as it did, so I would bear that in mind if you’re planning to read this one! The way that this book deals with grief is brilliant, but it also portrays the raw pain of it all, so be prepared for that.
All in all, I absolutely loved One Italian Summer! It’s easy to get into, it’s beautiful and bittersweet and hopeful and I flew through the entire thing very quickly. It’s already out and it comes in at 241 pages, so it’s quite a quick read, too-perfect for devouring in one sitting. I’m giving this one 5/5 stars as it made me laugh and made me cry and more than anything, made me want to take another trip to Rome!
Thanks for reading my review! Has anyone else read this one? What did you think? Have you read any other books set in Italy, or would you like me to blog about my top ten books set in Italy?