Monday, June 19, 2017

REVIEW: One Italian Summer by Keris Stainton

I downloaded One Italian Summer by Keris Stainton off Netgalley awhile back and after mentioning it on Twitter, I got a message from the author. She very kindly informed me that One Italian Summer is very much a book about grief and she knew of the losses I've faced this year.  But when I finally sat down to tackle some of my Netgalley reading this year ... this is the book that I gravitated towards anyway.  I think I wanted to read a book about loss and grief, if only to see if these characters felt at all like how I felt.  It felt like there could be comfort in that as well as heartbreak.

And you know what? I really loved this book.  It is a book about loss and grief. It's a book about struggling to move on from it.  It's also a book  about sisters and kissing and it's set in Italy and is about figuring out important life stuff.  I liked how it was about all of that.  Plus, it just felt like a comfort.  The main character in One Italian Summer is Millie. She's got two sisters, Leonie and Elyse and their dad died the previous year. They're all headed off to Italy where they have so many memories and family history involving their dad and the entire family are dealing with his death in their own ways.

I loved Millie and her sisters. They felt so real to me. The way they bicker with each other, the way Leonie is pretty gross. The closeness, the teasing, the secrets. I think I'll always love books involving sisters, which is sort of weird as I don't have sisters of my own. But I feel like if I did, they'd be like these three girls.  My only sort of complaint about the book though is that I couldn't actually tell until much later in the book how old each of the girls were until it specifically mentions it halfway to three quarters of the way through. Sometimes it felt like Leonie and Elyse were maybe twins? Sometimes it felt like Leonie was way younger than the other two and I had to keep readjusting my mental image of them all when I came across new scraps of information regarding age.

In terms of the grief aspects of the book, I kind of loved that this book is set a year after their dad dies. So often stories like this are told sooner when the loss is more sudden, the grief more raw. But I liked that the sisters' feelings are a year old. And still painful, still able to cause heartache. It's a year on and Millie's mum is still kind of vacant and using work to hide from facing up to her feelings. There were things said about their dad that made me hurt.  The silly little stories they remembered, the made-up words, the special moments shared between them all. The not wanting to let go. They end up talking to people that their dad knew before and one of the girls gets all excited about a story that isn't very exciting ... but it's something new that they didn't know before. And I completely relate to that feeling. I know what that excitement is like.

I also, of course loved Millie's complicated relationship with Luke. Someone she had history with from the previous summer and now they're both thrown together in the same place and don't know what to do about each other. I loved that delicious awkwardness at first, that underlying embarrassment together with yearning anyway. And Italy! How have I not mentioned Italy as yet?! Italy has to be one of my favourite places ever and reading about Rome and Positano made me want to visit all over again.

I'm sorry for the scattiness of this review. I'm out of practice. But if you couldn't tell, I did love this book. And I very much recommend it.

2 comments:

  1. Ooh! Close family relations and grief and Italy! I admit to not having heard many things about this book so far, but I'm glad that you enjoyed it! It certainly sounds like a great book to delve into. Going to have to place this higher on my TBR. Thanks for the lovely review!

    Cass @ Words on Paper

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    Replies
    1. You're very welcome, Cass. I hope you love this book as much as I did once you get around to it :)

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