book cover for Flirting in Italian by Lauren Henderson

Magan: Flirting in Italian by Lauren Henderson

book cover for Flirting in Italian by Lauren Henderson

Flirting in Italian by Lauren Henderson
Publication Date: June 12, 2012
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Pages: 320
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!

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16 thoughts on “Magan: Flirting in Italian by Lauren Henderson

  1. Karen says:

    I hate when a book disappoints you so much that it ruins all other books you haven’t even gotten to yet.
    I’ve had that happen a few times. The ones that bug you in the middle of the night even though you should just get over it.
    It’s especially depressing with this one because from the cover and summary you are expecting cute/romantic.
    I’m sorry it didn’t work for you and doesn’t sound like a book I would enjoy either but I hope you did find another read to lift your spirits.

  2. Jen says:

    DUDE. I put this bad boy down after one single chapter. I am really glad I did, judging by this review. I love honest reviews, and this one is perfect. So sorry you didn’t enjoy the book, but it’s reassuring that I did the right thing by bowing out early.

  3. elena says:

    This looks like such a cute book and it’s so disappointing that it WASN’T. I’m going to pass on this because from what you say about it, it wouldn’t be my cup of tea. ESPECIALLY the bit about the sequel. I would feel so ripped off. Thanks for the honest review, Magan!

  4. margie c {the bumble girl} says:

    sniff, I was really looking forward to this one. I don’t read many contemps, and by the cover and summary, I really thought this would be one to add to my lil stack. I’m so sad to see this and will have to see if my library brings it in (yea, I’m out in the sticks, lol, they don’t bring many newbies in, geesh!)
    Thank you for your honest review, Magan, I appreciate it!

  5. Sarah @ Storybound Girl says:

    THANK YOU, MAGAN, for saying everything I couldn’t figure out how to say on my blog. (Now I feel like I should do a tiny post about it & then just link here… Hmm).

    TOTALLY agree about Violet. I tried SO HARD to like her, but she kept making it impossible. I kept reading for the weird art thing and was so frustrated when it basically never went anywhere and I figured out there was supposed to be another book. Why was that such a focus of the synopsis if it wasn’t really in the book at all?! And why would this story need to take more than one book?!

  6. VeganYANerds says:

    Oh Magan, I can feel your frustration, thanks for giving us such an honest review of this book.

    For someone reason this never appealed to me, I love contemp, books set in Europe etc but this never really jumped out at me so I have no issue in passing on it, knowing what I do now, thanks to your insight into this book. It sounds really disappointing and I can’t believe it doesn’t even end properly and you’re meant to grab the next book that’s not even out yet, ag!

  7. Jamie says:

    I had seen this on a lot of WOWs and like the IDEA of this book but thankfully you just told me everything I needed to hear to not waste my time on this one! Sounds so frustrating and I KNOW I wouldn’t dig it now!

    Thanks for being honest..even if sometimes it feels icky! I appreciate it as someone who really trusts your reviews!

  8. Jasmine Rose says:

    I’m really sad to hear you didn’t like this one. The cover made it look so cute, although, to be honest I really don’t know anything else about it. I didn’t even know you guys had the rating “move to bottom of pile” since I’ve never seen it before, but I’m thinking that’s precisely what I’ll do.
    Great review :]

  9. Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl says:

    *weeps uncontrollably*

    I was SO excited for this! I went nuts trying to get my hands on it early! I’m going to be reading it in a week or so, and I’m so sad now! Haha. Oh well… I’m glad you were honest, and I *hope* I don’t feel the same way! 😛

  10. Hannah @ So Obsessed With says:

    Remember how on mentioned on Twitter recently that read a book that I really disliked? So, it wasn’t this book but my problem comes down to the same thing: show, don’t tell. I hate being told something when it would have made more sense to show me. I especially hate being told something over and over again. And ugh to insta-love with a rude boy. And ugh to books being split into two (or more) books when they should just be one.

    Don’t think I’ll be checking this one out! I hate when a bad book puts you in that weird mood where you don’t want to read anything else.

  11. Holley says:

    I completely agree with everything you said!! I was so frustrated that I didn’t like this book more. You hit the nail directly on the head.
    I think this was the most disappointed I’ve been in a while with a book.

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