Wednesday, August 8, 2012

FLIRTING IN ITALIAN by Lauren Henderson

Author: Lauren Henderson
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (a Random House imprint)
Release Date: June 12, 2012
Number of Pages: 336
Source of Book: Hardcover for Book Divas review & NetGalley eARC
In Flirting in Italian, Lauren Henderson, bestselling author of Kiss Me Kill Me, follows four girls' unforgettable summer in the magnificent Italian countryside.
     Four girls. One magical—and possibly dangerous—Italian summer. Family mysteries, ancient castles, long hot nights of dancing under the stars . . . and, of course, plenty of gorgeous Italian boys!
When Violet sees the painting at the museum that looks exactly like herself, she knows she must find out more about it. Since her dark Mediterranean looks have never looked like her Scandinavian and Scottish parents, it makes her start questioning how she could look so similar to this Italian painting. Thus begins Violet's desire to get to the castle in Italy where this was painted to try to find out some answers. When she finds a two month summer "school" program that will teach her the language, culture, and art history (her prospective college major) - along with a visit to this castle - she knows she has to go. Arriving in Italy, Violet finds Kelly, another Brit, and Kendra and Paige from the United States, having no idea what the four of them are in for. Their initial impressions of each other grow and change as they get to know each other better and bond through their classes. And the focus turns to seeing how Italian teens interact and flirting with the cute boys they find. But there's still the mystery of what is going on at that castle and why Violet looks so much like the girl in the painting-and when visiting, the people there see the resemblance right away. Who will she get to know and what will she find out during her summer in Italy?

The first thing I noticed in this book is that it is written/narrated from a British perspective, which I hadn't realized going into it, so some of the slang and terms took some getting used to. It starts off with this mystery of how Violet is connected to this castle, but it seems as if that ends up taking a secondary storyline once she actually gets to Italy-it's always in the background, but doesn't get resolved. Once in Italy, it turns into Americans vs. British vs. Italians and the constant comparisons of the differences, which began to seem a little stereotypical and repetitive instead of growing from it. I felt that this book was missing a little bit of the understanding of why people were acting the way they were. Why is the daughter of the school runner so nasty to the four girls? Why is Luca so hot and cold to Violet? As much as I enjoyed the bonding of the four girls in the school and seeing their friendships grow and their support of each other, there are hints to backstories and motivations that I didn't feel were fully developed in this book. It ended up reading more like a boarding school/travel/party and flirt kind of book, rather than what I was expecting. I did appreciate the personality of Violet and her attitude toward what she wants, but (as I suppose the title should have suggested) it was more about the girls flirting with and finding Italian boys-but there was some growth Violet had to go through in discovering more about herself, her motivations, and how she wants to be perceived.  The ending seemed to come quickly and felt unfinished to me, and then I saw the note that there is a companion book, so it really did seem as if it's a part one of a story because the mystery is left hanging and it seemed to end right in the middle of a climactic moment.

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