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Wish You Were Italian: An If Only novel Hardcover – May 6, 2014
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Pippa may be disappointed in her summer plans, but don’t feel too bad for her just yet. Her art-gallery-owning parents have signed her up for an art-history program in Florence. By herself. With an envelope stuffed with cash. Before she leaves, Pippa’s best friend Morgan gives her a bon voyage gift—a journal with assignments to get Pippa “out of her comfort zone.” Pippa takes the assignments to heart: the first thing she does when she arrives in Italy is lie to her parents about where she is and ditch the art program to stay in Rome. Soon she finds herself caught between a gorgeous Italian bad boy with a secret, and a handsome Americano in town for his own summer program. Though it’s a little unbelievable that Pippa would be so put out by a free summer-long trip to Italy, and a few characters are a touch two-dimensional, Rae’s debut novel is a breezy, fluffy summer read full of dreamy romance. Grades 9-12. --Candice Mack
“A charming and addictive read. Devour this delicious treat like a double scoop of gelato.” ―Lindsey Leavitt, author of Going Vintage and Sean Griswold's Head
“Enjoyable--an ideal beach read.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“This breezy, envy-inducing romance opens the If Only series.” ―Publishers Weekly
“Rae's debut novel is a breezy, fluffy summer read full of dreamy romance.” ―Booklist
“Readers may enjoy the international setting and details about Italian culture and travel in this innocent romance.” ―School Library Journal
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Hands down, my favorite thing about Wish You Were Italian is the setting. While it's always been my sister's dream to go to Italy and explore one day, I am now convinced to go too after reading this book. Rae really made everything that main character Pippa experiences come to life with her words. I find myself itching to go and see the Colosseum, grab some actual gelato and pizza, visit Pompeii and more.
The story also won me over. Even though there were certainly moments I thought were a touch too dramatic or unbelievable, I still really liked it. The plot almost feels like it could work as a movie (perhaps a Disney Channel original movie?). Pippa's adventures involve romance and friendship and shenanigans too. Every step she takes leads to her realizations about what she likes, wants and is capable of. Don't get me wrong - there's also surprising depth, as Pippa has to deal with her parents (especially her mother) and her own lack of courage sometimes. But for the most part, Rae tells Pippa's story with a light hand and it totally worked.
The characters are such a delightful bunch. There is Pippa, who is trying to forge her own way in the world - and figuring out what that means. There's her best friend, Morgan, who gives her an awesome present for the trip and provides plenty of support and encouragement. Her new Italian friend Chiara, who helps Pippa make her way to Cinque Terre and is an amazing, enthusiastic pal. Bruno, Matilde's other son, who becomes an irresistible Italian crush, and Darren, the cute American archeology student who keeps crossing paths with Pippa (and who I generally favored). Pippa's awesome grandmother also deserves a shoutout too! There are plenty of characters to meet, and enjoy meeting, and I loved that they each entered in a way that felt organic to the tale.
All in all, Wish You Were Italian is the kind of contemporary that I think many people will enjoy. It's filled with funny moments, adventures in Italy, moments of realization, sweet romance -- all revolving around a main character who is fun, smart and not necessarily perfect (which makes her all the better to me). It's one of those stories that will entertain; it's also a story that will proceed to make your wanderlust and desire to visit Italy grow in gigantic proportions. Definitely consider adding this one to your summer reading pile!
Pippa's parents have forced to spend a summer at an art school in Florence, Italy. Although she is an aspiring photographer, Pippa has no desire to attend art school or to follow the footsteps of her parents, who own an art gallery. When she arrives in Rome, she makes an impulsive decision that will change her summer entirely.
First off, I am so jealous of Pippa right now. Italy??
I loved how the author described the different places that Pippa visited. I sort of felt like I was there with her, because she described the colors, scents, and surroundings so vividly. I loved the interactions that Pippa experienced with the people she encountered, and thought it was nice that she was trying to learn how to speak Italian.
I really liked the journal that Pippa's best friend, Morgan, gave to her. In this journal, Morgan suggested new things for Pippa to do and to try and experience while she was away. I just thought this was a really really cute and fun idea! I think I just might make one of these journals if someone close to me ever decides to make a trip out of the country.
I really liked the guys- Bruno and Darren. Bruno was this cool, fun guy, even though he had some issues and what somewhat of a ladies man. My heart went out for him, as it seemed like he didn't really have anyone to help him through his difficult times. Darren was this friendly and sweet guy, who was like the boy next door. I thought it was really cute how nervous he'd get around Pippa. Chiara was another character who I was especially fond of. I don't think Pippa would have ever guessed that she would meet someone who would become like a sister to her, when she decided to go to Rome. Chiara was so nice and outgoing, and I loved how she had Pippa's back. She'd also talk sense into Pippa when she really needed it.
Pippa was really mature and independent, especially for seventeen. I have to say though, I was a bit surprised that she decided to go her own way right after arriving. Stunned even. While on the plane to Italy, she was so panicked and worried as she contemplated being alone to a foreign country that I found it surprising that she even changed her plans at the drop of a hat. As a parent, I would totally flip out if my daughter did this. My heart beats faster thinking about it (don't judge). I really did not fully understand why Pippa did what she did until the end of the book.
There were times in the Wish You Were Italian that I wondered about all of the coincidences that occurred. Were they likely or probable? Probably not. However, I chose to let them slide because I was having fun with the story. Would I recommend this book to those looking for a fun, Teen/YA, standalone book? Absolutely.