• The Bossy Bookworm

Review of One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle

Rebecca Serle's love letter to Italy plays with time to allow a grieving young woman to know her mother at her same age, inspiring heartwarming realizations.

In Rebecca Serle's One Italian Summer, Katy is reeling after the death of her beloved mother, who was her best friend, her guide to life, her tastemaker, her everything.

Katy is deeply grieving while questioning her own life, including her marriage to a kind man. She is determined to take the trip to Italy she and her mother had optimistically planned during her mom's illness, and she's set on revisiting the places her mom has raved about since Katy was a child.

Katy is at a loss emotionally, and she's tempted to turn to a handsome young guest at her Italian hotel to soothe her feelings and satisfy her need for distraction. She's falling in love with the piece of Italy that helped shape her beloved mother into who she was.

But Katy begins to discover that her perfect mother wasn't without faults--and that she left out important pieces of her own Italian adventures. In fact, she kept secrets that now make Katy question aspects of her own life she had always taken for granted.

Katy also begins to recognize what the reader might notice early on: that her intense lifetime reliance on her mother in all areas of her life has left her without the benefit of independence, decision-making, and the strength that autonomy (and mistakes) build in a person.

When Katy wakes up one day faced with her actual own mother standing in her hotel lobby in the prime of her youth, she wonders if she's hallucinating. But it all seems so real. As days pass, Katy realizes she seems to have been been gifted with an opportunity to know her mother in a way that seemed impossible. And if she can cope with her own sadness and dive into the unfathomable experience, she just might learn valuable lessons about herself and her own character too.

One Italian Summer was a slim book and a sweet love letter to Italy. I enjoyed how Serle played with time to allow a young woman to know her mother at her same age. It's an irresistible setup and a satisfying, light read.

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Rebecca Serle is also the author of In Five Years, The Dinner List, and When You Were Mine.

If you like books that play with time, you might also enjoy the books on the Greedy Reading Lists Six Riveting Time-Travel Stories to Explore and Six Second-Chance, Do-Over, Reliving-Life Stories.