One of my goals in life is to get down to Italy. The country has such a rich history, the food’s delicious, and the Ferrari was invented there. Oh, and Roman Holiday. So when I saw this book in the bookstore last summer I had to buy it. I figured it would be a nice pick me up that wouldn’t cause me to concentrate too much…boy, was I wrong.
General Summary: After spotting a portrait of a girl who heavily resembles her, Violet makes it her quest to find out all she can about that painting which means hello Italy. However, once she gets to Italy Violet’s mind becomes all wrapped up in boys, vespas, and gelato. So, she forgets about the painting for awhile until someone tries to kill her.
I have mix feelings about this book. It was okay at first. But a bit of a disappointment. The first thirty or so pages were really excellent. The premise was great. A historical mystery that somehow lead to an identity quest in Italy. A little cliche maybe, but still pretty awesome. However, once the book got to Italy…
It was all about boys. And mean girls. Very cliche mean girls. In fact, one of the biggest pet peeves I had with this book besides its disjoint-ness were the characters. They were all stereotypes:
Violet: Our MC. A little self conscious about her looks, though it’s obvious that plenty of guys are into her. Oh, and she’s just sort of in the middle between the rest of all our characters.
Luca: The hot Italian boy who despite speaking English all his life still doesn’t speak in grammatically correct sentences.
Paige: The first American stereotype. Paige is a country girl at hear a big bubbly blonde American who is dumb as a box of rocks who gets drunk all the time who radiates self esteem. Also, she is described many times as being easy. The description of Paige was probably the most offensive out of any of the characters in the book.
Kendra: The other American stereotype. Kendra is the supermodel beautiful cold Tyra Banks look alike who’ll cut you if you call her exotic. I actually liked Kendra the most out of any of these characters weirdly enough.
Elisa: The skinny bitch who slut slams all the time: Italian version.
Kelly: The overweight self conscious character who eventually becomes the MC’s best friend and learns that hey she should embrace herself all because of the MC.
Don’t these characters sound wonderful?
Okay, to give the book some credit. I did enjoy some of these characters. Like I liked Kendra she was cool. And I liked Kelly too when she wasn’t being mopey. But really, the stereotypes were rather jarring just like the plot. Also, the whole chapter titled “Swimsuit Beauty Parade” didn’t help matters either since it was essentially all about the MC doubting her figure.
After introducing us to several stereotypes and talking fluff for about a hundred and twenty pages or so the book finally picks up again with an attempted murder attempt on Violet’s life. This plot point is really discerning since it doesn’t make sense. Oh, we sort of get a half ass explanation at the end of the novel but it really didn’t make sense. I mean, I get why the culprit wouldn’t like Violet but to try to kill her? No. Just doesn’t work.
Just like the whole idea that there’s a sequel to this book makes no sense to me. I feel like if about forty or so pages were chopped, and Henderson actually focused on the plot of the book there would be no need for a sequel. It’s simply milking a cash cow that has no milk.
Best Feature: Italy. By far the best part about this book was Italy. I thought Henderson did a nice job describing the country. And I want to go there even more now. Though, I will admit that she did exploit the use of Italian stereotypes here as well. But whatever. At least the scenery was breathtaking.
Worst Feature: Identity Crisis: I really don’t think this book knows what it wants to be. At the beginning at the book there seemed like there was going to be a real cool mystery that was going to go on that was somehow going to be about the character’s identity, but that was dropped for about a hundred or so pages for Italian fun and the sun fun. Before it appeared again for a few pages, dropped again, and then someone tries to kill the character. Yep, there’s attempted murder and then that’s followed by more fluff and….well, you get the pictures. The tone of the book was off. The character would jump from serious events in her life to talking about boys. And I like talking about boys. I like books that talk about boys. But when you have a set up for a potentially interesting mystery you should stick with it instead of making your readers wait for a
Appropriateness: Other than a sad attempt at attempted murder and some underage drinking scenes this book is pretty clean.
Blockbuster Worthy: Well, if they could somehow solve the identity crisis it would make an alright movie. Here’s who I’d cast:
Violet: India Eisley is the closet actress I can think of who I imagine Violet looking sort of like. The weird thing is I have an exact image in my head of how this girl looks, but no actress really does the character justice.
Overall Rating: Five out of ten scoops of gelato. It’s average. While I did find parts of it to be annoying, it wasn’t like it was the worst thing I’ve ever read. And it did have some potential. Will I read the sequel? It’s likely, but I’ll probably check it out at the library rather than buy it.