A couple of years ago, i completely fell in love with My Heart Goes Bang by Keris Stainton. It’s an absolutely adorable story about your first year at university, and it made me want to read everything else she’s written.
I picked up a copy of One Italian Summer quite a while ago now, and in a moment when i really needed a relaxed read, i picked it up as i remembered how much i enjoyed Keris’ writing previously. I wont lie, i wanted some completely trashy romance to take my mind off things, and i picked this book up not knowing it would be as utterly heartbreaking as it was.
One Italian Summer is about three sisters, obviously spending some of their summer in Italy, as they do every year. This year, they are doing it without their dad who they are still griving the loss of. The death was sudden, so having the three sisters and their mum return to a place with fond memories of him is hard. There is also obviously a little bit of romance.
I didn’t know what to expect with this one. I adored my previous read from Keris, but i wasn’t sure if it was situational. However, i need to say early on that this book is completely perfect. It covers a lot of heavy topics, mainly grief, but does it incredibly well. I’m lucky enough to not have grived too much in my life, but there were other points to this book i found incredibly relatable incorporated with grief.
Milly, our main character, suffers with the loss of her dad and wanting to keep her family together and safe. Obviously, it’s not always possible when your sisters are sixteen and twenty and want to go about their own lives. Milly is incredibly anxious about her sisters being away, or the family being split up. She wants to keep everyone safe. This was something that i massivly related too as i suffer with health anxiety. The need to keep people safe is something that’s not commonly discussed in books, and i really enjoyed that representation.
Some representation that i wasn’t expecting was LGBTQ+. My Heart Goes Bang had some LGBTQ+ representation, but i don’t know why i didn’t then expect all Keris’ books to. I was overjoyed when this was brought up, and dealt with in a very realistic manner. The reaction from Milly’s sister and their mum when talking about this was wonderful. I really enjoyed how LGBTQ+ was discussed and how it wasn’t automatically made a huge deal out of like other stories.
I admit i cried a lot during this book. It felt like a really great balance between a summer romance that i could swoon over, and a book that dealt well with very important topics. The love interest, Luke, was charming, sweet and honestly i did swoon a little bit over him. It was a nice break between the heavier conversations had between the families.
I’ve not heard many people discussing this book, and i think it’s severly underread and underrated (as are all of Keris’ books to be honest). It was the completely perfect escape for me, although it was sad, it took me out of everything and i enjoyed it a lot. As soon as i finished it i went straight to order another book of Keris’.