Wednesday, August 31, 2016

strictly literary: when in rome...find yourself by lena mae hill

though billed as a new adult romance the main character of when in rome...find yourself is so emotionally and socially stunted she seems like an insecure 16 year old. allegedly she's 21. she does suffer from severe anxiety, but then you spend a whole chapter in her head with her stream of consciousness insecurity and you kind of just want it to end. rory is sweet but so, so insecure.

she's had a bad relationship, bad break up, bad high school experience. her family is overprotective, especially since her older brother passed away when she was younger. she travels to rome with her classmates and every overture they make, rory somehow misinterprets to assume they are put upon or making fun of her. with her house mother, theresa, and housemate, ned, she assumes the same thing. and instead of really exploring rome, we get a lot of anxiety about her every step. this is also billed as a romance, and i guess it is, but it doesn't actually feel all that romantic. there's a happy for now ending, but things are actually pretty uncertain, which made me feel like maybe it would have been better to bill this as something else? more than anything it feels like an issues book, with rory working through her painful anxiety and insecurity.

the other problem is that i don't think the author properly researched italy. because the italian house mother speaks spanish instead of italian. and rory talks about rome having beaches even though there are no beaches in rome. there are beaches within an hour of rome, but not in rome, and those failures of language and geography were very off-putting. actually the worst failure of geography is when the author describes a day-trip to milan. did you all know milan is 6 hours in a car from rome? i did. i've actually been to italy. not only were the descriptions of this trip just flat out wrong, the timing was a mess regardless. pro-tip for authors: if you are going to write about a place, do a little research. make the trip to italy before you describe it. there's a reason people tell you to write what you know.

i was hoping for a book like one paris summer, which was so fantastic, and instead this is not that. it's perfectly okay, but in the end i didn't find rory or her issues all that compelling and i felt like the setting was wasted. also, i don't think ellipses in titles should be a thing. i almost didn't request the book because of it, and i should have gone with my gut.

**when in rome...find yourself will publish on september 6, 2016. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/speak now in exchange for my honest review.

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