Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae
Series: If Only #2 (a series of companions by different authors)
Published: May 6th, 2014
323 pages (eARC)
Genre: Contemporary young adult
Acquired this book: From the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Warning: May contain spoilers
Pippa has always wanted to go to Italy…but not by herself. And certainly not to sit in art school the entire summer learning about dead guys’ paintings. When she steps off the plane in Rome, she realizes that traveling solo gives her the freedom to do whatever she wants. So it’s arrivederci, boring art program and ciao, hot Italian guys!
Charming, daring, and romantic, Bruno is just the Italian Pippa’s looking for—except she keeps running into cute American archeology student Darren everywhere she goes. Pippa may be determined to fall in love with an Italian guy…but the electricity she feels with Darren says her heart might have other plans. Can Pippa figure out her feelings before her parents discover she left the program and—even worse—she loses her chance at love?
There’s just something about books that centre around travel. Done well - as Wish You Were Italian was - you feel like you’re right there with the character, experiencing the new places, people, culture, history, and food. Wish You Were Italian was an adventure I felt I lived right alongside Pippa, and I didn’t want it to end.
I loved Pippa. She was adventurous and brave, but also very down to earth and real. Her voice was authentic, and I found myself connecting to her easily. She’d always wanted to go to Italy, but with her family, not on her own, and not to spend the entire summer stuck in art classes. She’d been looking forward to a summer at home with her best friend Morgan, since it was the summer before senior year, which meant probably their last full summer together. When Pippa arrived in Rome, instead of carrying on to Florence where she was supposed to be attending classes, she decided to take a small detour…a detour that turned into a plan to skip art school and spend the summer how she wanted to.
This book was…well, it was pretty damn close to perfect. I’m having trouble finding the right words because I loved it so much I just want to gush. It was laugh out loud funny, romantic, and just really fun. I felt like I was in Italy with Pippa, seeing and experiencing everything she was (gelato and pizza and hot boys, oh my!). I connected with her love of photography, and felt that we got to see the beauty of Italy through a photographer’s eye, which meant big and small details, and I loved all of it.
I also loved the journal Pippa’s best friend sent with her, full of tasks for Pippa to complete. It was Morgan’s way of being there, and it was often what pushed Pippa to do things she might not normally do.
Then there was the romance…I don’t know what to say without getting into spoiler territory, but there was definitely a standout boy to me, and I loved him. He was sweet and funny and smart and driven. He was good for Pippa, and watching their relationship grow was one of my favourite parts of the book. Pippa learned so much through the course of the book, both on her own, and with the help of the new friends she made along the way.
Reading this book reminded me of the feeling I had when reading Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. If you know me at all, you’ll know Anna and the French Kiss is one of my favourite books EVER, and comparing anything to it is pretty much the highest compliment I can pay. Even though the stories are completely different, they have similar elements, and they both gave me that giggly, happy, smiley, swoony feeling I’ve rarely experienced while reading. After reading Anna and the French Kiss (twice), I didn’t think any book would be capable of making me feel that way again, but Wish You Were Italian succeeded. So thank you, Kristin Rae, and well done!
Wish You Were Italian is definitely one of my favourite books of 2014. It had me giggling, swooning, raging, and even tearing up a time or two. It stirred up my wanderlust, and made me yearn to take an adventure like Pippa’s…and meet some of the boys Pippa met! It was magical and charming, and I can’t recommend it enough if you’re looking for a fantastic contemporary young adult read.
Have you read Wish You Were Italian? What did you think? If you haven't read it, do you plan to? Do you enjoy books about travel? What's your favourite? Have you ever been to Italy?