An If Only novel
By Kristin Rae
Available now from Bloomsbury
WISH YOU WERE ITALIAN is the second novel I've read lately set in Italy. (The one I preferred was BLONDE OPS.) I wanted to like this novel, if only because Kristin Rae is a fellow Houstonian.
The main flaw is similar to that in Stephanie Perkins' ANNA IN THE FRENCH KISS, but unlike that novel it doesn't recover. Namely, protagonist Pippa is pissed that her parents are sending her to Florence, Italy for the summer. Yeah, I was crying a river for her. She's supposed to study art history there, which she doesn't want to do because she wants to be a photographer. I hope she realizes that if she goes to college for photography she will have to study art history and it will make her a better photographer.
When Pippa arrives in Rome, she wants to stay and be a tourist. So she ditches her program (because Florence is a terrible place to be a tourist, obvs) and sets out. (And yes, I was wincing about the thousands of dollars in tuition her parents lost. Pippa never thinks twice about this.)
Most of the action takes place in Cinque Terre, part of the Italian Riviera, where Pippa heads after all signs seem to point in that direction. She stays with her new friend Chiara, who is a good friend if a bit two dimensional. Pippa also starts falling for two boys: Darren, a fellow American, and Chiara's bad boy cousin. Pippa's main fault with Darren is, of course, that he isn't Italian and she wants to fall in love with an Italian while she's abroad. And Bruno is super smooth, even if he does have a player reputation.
I think WISH YOU WERE ITALIAN has its good points. It certainly makes me want to visit Italy and see all the sites for myself. But the setting has more character than the actual characters. Yes, this is a breezy summer novel, but the love interests are straight out of central casting. Pippa has the most development, and I found her so annoying. (Seriously kid, stop complaining about your parents.)