Flirting in Italian by Lauren Henderson
Publication Date: June 12, 2012
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Keywords: Adoption, Travel, Studying Abroad, Italy, Bad Relationships
Target Audience: Young Adult
Format Read: Paperback from ALA (Thank you!)
Summary: Violet chooses to do an 8-week course in Italy to investigate why she looks so like a modern-day duplicate of an 18th century woman said to have been painted in a castle near Florence.
We’re all told that we shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover (or really, not even by it’s name). For months I’ve been declaring my excitement for Flirting in Italian and how anxious I was to read it. Unfortunately, I felt like the cute name and cover didn’t match the content inside. I was desperately left wanting more and in a really let down mood — to the point where I was unable to sleep after finishing and didn’t want to pick up another book for several days. I have never been affected by a book in this way — it left me skeptical and afraid the next book would fall short of my expectations, too. (Not sure if you guys feel the same way, but I don’t deal well with reading back-to-back frustrating books and somehow this one took away my hope that the next book would be incredible.)
Note: I am fully aware that I might be in the minority of people by announcing my dislike for this book. Let me try to help you understand why in the least spoilery way.
My first immediate reaction was that I couldn’t connect at all with the main character, Violet. I usually find a way to sympathize with most characters, even if they’re the polar opposite of me. I think that’s a tell-tale sign for a good author — someone who can make us get so emotionally involved despite our differences. Violet was bratty, spoiled, judgmental, competitive, and completely insecure. Her inner commentary drove me mad. She is supposed to live with four other girls for the summer in Italy while she’s trying to figure out why she looks like the mirror image of a girl in an 18th century painting. I could NOT take the constant distrustful and comparative dialogue; it left little hope for friendships to actually bond the girls because Violet was so much “better” than them. For someone who was also incredibly self-loathing body-image wise, home girl sure did think she had it going on and was better than everyone else.
I just wanted someone to put her in her place.
Next issue: I really appreciate when an author assumes their reader will retain information even if they only state it once. I don’t like being berated with duplicate information. So often, Flirting in Italian just seemed like a broken record. I don’t know how many times it was mentioned that Violet had never been to Italy before or picked up a paintbrush; however, once she set foot in Italy, she just wanted to paint everything. I could have dealt with her excitement over painting if she was actually painting. (That didn’t occur until approximately 50 pages from the end. Finally.) Paige, one of the girls studying abroad with Violet, was constantly referred to as the girl who said aloud what was on everyone’s mind and jumped into conversations. QUIT TELLING ME SHE DOES THOSE THINGS AND JUST SHOW THEM TO ME.
I suppose I’ve never better understood the phrase “show me, don’t tell me” when referring to a book. A lot of unnecessary telling was going on in Flirting in Italian.
My last and probably greatest issue was that Violet went to Italy in search of answers. She was trying to figure out if she was adopted. I thought that would play a huge part in the book and oh, coincidentally, a cute boy would pop into the picture. Nope. Not the case. Three quarters of the way through the book, Violet was just starting to wonder about the castle where the painting was said to have been made. So much attention was paid to the parties and the terrible boy, Luca, that she insta-love-crushed on that it felt like Henderson ran out of time to make her case for the painting. I realized about a quarter of the way through that there was NO way we were going to make our way through 8 weeks in Italy, especially since not even a week had gone by. Aside from the gross, sickening ending that had me audibly gagging, I was infuriated that this book was split into a two-parter.
I kid you not, friends, this book ends by saying to check out the companion novel Following in Love in Italian (which currently has no information available on Goodreads). This story is unnecessarily being split into multiple books; major editing could have been done to strengthen the plot to fit everything neatly into a standalone book.
As you all are aware, I’m a girl who loves kissy scenes. Let me not graze over Luca. I have a bone to pick with his character as well. He was confusing and a d-bag and downright rude. I didn’t find a redeeming quality whatsoever throughout the entire book. He was purely written into Flirting in Italian to provide make-out scenes. That sounds like a big WIN, but their whole relationship was way too dramatic for me. [insert many an eye roll] If what you’re expecting is Stephanie Perkins-esque, stop right where you are. You will be disappointed.
So. *paces back and forth* How do you guys feel about Flirting in Italian by Lauren Henderson now? Have you read it? Did you feel the same way? Please let me know!