Flirting in Italian — Lauren Henderson
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!
Violet is a British teen living a relatively normal life until the day she sees the mirror image of herself in a museum. The only thing is, the image is an antiquated Italian painting. Violet’s noticed the lack of resemblance between herself and her parents before, but now she’s questioning her roots more than ever. In an effort to uncover more about this odd mystery, Violet signs up for an eight-week summer course in Italy where she’ll learn the art of being a lady, in addition to focusing on the arts and the Italian language. Of course, once Violet actually finds herself in Italy, she finds her focus commandeered by Luca, the frustratingly hot-and-cold Italian boy who sends her mission, and her world, spiraling.
Flirting in Italian is a complete delight. Lauren Henderson expertly weaves a contemporary story of mystery and teen romance. The suspense of the plot is introduced in the first chapter and carries through until the very end. For those looking for a contemporary love story with a little more punch, Flirting in Italian is perfect. It provides an intricate, interesting plot and a bevvy of delicious Italian boys. The central mystery surrounding the plot is thoroughly unpredictable. Many questions are left unanswered at the book’s end, but I’m actually kind of excited about this because I want to spend as much time in Violet’s world as possible and I was pleasantly surprised to find Violet’s adventures will continue in the companion, Following in Love in Italian.
The very best thing about this book is the setting. For those who loved living vicariously through Anna in Anna and the French Kiss, Flirting in Italian provides the same sort of experience, though instead of France, we find ourselves in Italy. The only difference is that Violet fully immerses herself in this culture. We get a lot of authentic Italian dialogue and stunning descriptions of landscapes, palaces, and even just people. Violet’s observations are keen and thorough, allowing us to follow right along with her. Henderson truly makes us feel as if we’re vacationing in Italy and every time I put the book down, I had the intense desire to look up plane tickets and flight schedules. And, due to the setting of the summer course, we get to see Italian life compared to both British and American life, which adds dimension to the book and gives many readers something to relate to.
The characters in this book are astoundingly realistic. I think we’ve all met a Kelly, Kendra, Paige, and/or Elisa at some point. Violet is a wonderful protagonist. She’s sympathetic and willing to stick up for others, but she’s not exceedingly brave, especially when it comes to boys. I love her comments on human nature — she makes a lot of interesting observances, ones that further characterize her while the also painting clear pictures of the other characters. My only gripe is that sometimes her inner monologues or thoughts go on a little long, but even that doesn’t happen often. But Violet really does not a lot about other people, as well as herself. She’s a very insightful character and her insights elevate this book from your garden-variety teen romance to an endearing commentary on human nature, one that explores the differences and similarities we recognize in other cultures.
Flirting in Italian is a truly fun read. The descriptions are vibrant and engaging. The dialogue is witty, accessible, and even educational. Plus, there’s Luca. He’s maddeningly frustrating and unbelievably sexy. I’m really rooting for him and Violet even though, like Violet, I can’t get a clear read on him. Of course, there is a bit of a language barrier, which I think Henderson does a great job portraying realistically. Basically, I’m so sad I already finished this book and I can’t wait to read the next. Lauren Henderson, where have you been all my life?
Publication Date: June 2012
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Teaser Quote: “I honestly can’t see much variation between them; they’re both slim, designer-stubbled, in fitted white shirts tucked into their jeans, which no cool English boy would do, but actually looks really sharp.“