Getting Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae in the mail made me so happy. In the middle of late New England winter, I was so happy just to see its bright cover and promise of Italian summer adventures, gelato, and lots of swoony goodness. The book delivered on all of that and more. Here are a few of my reasons why you need to read Wish You Were Italian.
1. Be Italian
This reason alone should be enough to have you grabbing for this book. Instead of getting stuck in art history class, Pippa takes a chance on exploring Italy, getting to know its people, and seeing amazing, beautiful, and historic places. I loved traveling along with her. Rae balances perfectly between seeing famous sites and getting to know more of Italy as its seen from the people who live there day-to-day.
2. Summer Lovin’
Pippa’s romantic encounters were so charming and thoughtful and swoony. The boys involved are charming in their own individual ways, and you can totally see why Pippa goes for them. (Seriously, Pippa and Darren’s flirting is so freaking cute and so real–I want to hang out with them!) And I love how relatable Pippa is in each of these relationships; so often I thought “That is totally how it is when you’re crushing!” Even with all the swoony goodness, the relationships felt so real and complex and heart-warming and challenging.
3. Friends Forever
I also loved that Pippa had great female friends in her life. Between Morgan, her friend at home who sends Pippa to Italy with the coolest journal (seriously, can I have one?), and Chiara, Pippa’s new Italian friend who provides a great dose of warmth and spunk, friendship in this book is just as important as romance. Kudos to Rae for that.
Pippa is super close with her grandmother, who is a wonderful addition to the story. She understands Pippa and encourages her to take chances. Their relationship worked especially well, as Pippa’s relationship with her parents is strained (more on that below). It felt so real to see generations of one family struggling with how to get along and bonding in their own particular ways.
5. Another Scoop of Gelato, Please
Seriously, read this book with a pint of gelato in the freezer and a gourmet pizza delivery on the way. Kristin, I totally expect a follow-up cookbook. Mangia!
6. Even on Vacation, Bad Things Happen
All of the above goodness isn’t to say that Wish You Were Italian is totally light and fluffy. Without spoiling anything, I’ll just say that there are some truly heartbreaking moments–which make the book even better. I love that Rae doesn’t shy away from real problems throughout.
7. Mothers and Daughters
Okay, so maybe I’m a sucker for mother-daughter drama. 😉 But I was so pleased to see Pippa’s relationship with her mother get developed in surprising and touching ways. Again, I don’t want to give anything away, but I didn’t expect this layer at all when I started reading, and it ended up being such a real, lovely part of the book.
8. Taking Chances…
A lot of Wish You Were Italian has to do with taking risks and putting yourself out there. Morgan’s journal spurs Pippa to try new things, and Pippa herself makes a huge leap when she decides to take hold of her own life for the summer. As someone who’s not a huge risk-taker, this got me (and I’m sure will get other readers) thinking about what risks we take in our daily lives. Which connects with…
9. …Making Connections
Wish You Were Italian shows that sometimes taking changes and small decisions to put ourselves out there ultimately foster surprising new connections and relationships. At one point, Pippa realizes that she’s surrounded by people who care about her because of a small choice she made early on, which I just loved and feels so much like how real life works.
10. Viva Kristin!
Kristin Rae is a super sweet 2014 debut author, OneFour KidLit-er and fellow chocolate addict. She also shared the news that Wish You Were Italian isn’t her only big 2014 debut–her baby girl is due this summer!!! Make sure to follow Kristin for all sorts of wonderful adventures.